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Re: Bug#501190: ITP: moonlight -- open source implementation of Microsoft Silverlight

On Mon, Oct 06, 2008 at 11:08:38PM +0100, Jo Shields wrote:
> You're absolutely right, it's a clone, albeit one officially endorsed by
> those being cloned. My package description is sourced from a
> debian-multimedia package, I'll post a replacement to the ITP shortly.


> However, one
> observation - official Silverlight *does* run on multiple platforms
> (Windows or Mac), just not on Linux or other *nixes. Moonlight is
> officially endorsed & help given to Moonlight developers to help get
> more platforms supported.

Right, and Moonlight is not Silverlight, and since Silverlight is a moving
target it won't be fully compatible with it anytime soon.  Being endorsed
hasn't changed that so far.

> >   - If you want to use ffmpeg, please clarify the legal situation wrt license
> >     incompatibility mentioned by Moonlight's authors in:
> > 
> >       http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2007/Sep-05.html
> > 
> >     which appears to have prevented them from using ffmpeg, and forced them
> >     into licensing blobs from Microsoft.  Unfortunately they aren't very
> >     explicit about what the problem is, but it is certain there is one, so
> >     please find that out, and have it discussed in debian-legal.
> Novell don't want to distribute a Moonlight linked against FFmpeg, and
> make themselves targets for patent trolls like the MPEG-LA. That's fair
> enough really

It is (IMO).  But their statement doesn't seem to speak about patents:

  "We are unable to redistribute this code commercially due to licensing conflicts."

Though, this ITP is not the best place to discuss legal issues.  I'm just
pointing out possible sources of trouble.  Please, bring this up in
debian-legal, and have the discussion referred to from here.

> > [1] In
> > http://groups.google.com/group/tiraniaorg-blog-comments/browse_thread/thread/2a07b8b50038d8c8/d582162af2d63d57
> > de Icaza states that you need to "get/download Moonlight from Novell
> > which will include patent coverage"
> > [2] http://www.microsoft.com/interop/msnovellcollab/moonlight.mspx
> I don't see how possible but unclaimed patents would make moonlight in
> Debian more dangerous than any software such as wine, linux, samba, OOo,
> ntfs-3g, etc.

Unclaimed patents are precisely the reason we don't have any MPEG encoders
in Debian (see http://techliberation.com/2006/05/11/mpeg-patent-thicket/).

Besides, I don't recall OOo authors saying you must download OOo from Sun
or otherwise you will be endangered, like de Icaza asserted [1].

And I don't recall Microsoft having a web page where it regulates what you
can and can't do explicitly with OOo.

To summarize:

  - $author claims you should download the software from them in order to
    enjoy "protection" from patents owned by $this_troll.
  - $this_troll has a web page explicitly dictating what you can and can't
    do with $this_software.
  - You want Debian to dismiss all claims because you believe they're not
    "more dangerous" than those in wine, linux, samba, OOo or ntfs-3g.

It doesn't sound convincing to me.  And apparently it didn't sound convincing
to others either (e.g. http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/ForbiddenItems#Moonlight).

Would you please bring this up in debian-legal so a proper discussion can be

[1] http://groups.google.com/group/tiraniaorg-blog-comments/browse_thread/thread/2a07b8b50038d8c8/d582162af2d63d57

> Upstream are also aware of any concerns we have, and 
> are trying to clear things up where possible.

(offtopic) If I may make a suggestion, tell them to use GPLv3.  It was
purposely designed to solve this kind of problem.

> ** Note, apologies to debian-devel@ for the offtopic nature of these
> messages, my reply is aimed at debian-devel only for mailing list
> archive purposes **

It is standard practice to CC debian-devel in new ITPs.  Though, as I said
for legal discussions please use debian-legal, and afterwards link to the
discussion from here.  You can start a discussion there by pointing to
this ITP.


Robert Millan

  The DRM opt-in fallacy: "Your data belongs to us. We will decide when (and
  how) you may access your data; but nobody's threatening your freedom: we
  still allow you to remove your data and not access it at all."

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