Re: mono and moonlight distribution method make me worried.
Quoting "Bradley M. Kuhn" <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
Steve Langasek wrote at 19:58 (EDT) on Sunday:
we don't consider the existence of a software patent claim to be a
sufficient reason to remove software from main.
Well said. There are so many USA patents, if you tried to remove every
piece of software from main that might be judged to practice the
teachings of some patent, you'd do a *lot* of removing.
Nevertheless, possible patents on Mono and what Novell/Microsoft's
strategy is with regard to releasing this software is something to watch
and be concerned about.
The Mono Project assures us that Microsoft holds patents that cover
the ECMA 334/335 technology; they even go so far as to identify one of
the inventors. The Mono Project does not state that they practice
those patents, but they also do not suggest in any way that those
patents are either invalid or that their practice is avoided in the
Mono implementation of the ECMA standards.
Instead the Mono Project asserts that a royalty-free, reasonable, and
non-discriminatory patent grant has been provided by Microsoft. Both
Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard have complied with ECMA requirements
in promising to offer their patents covering ECMA 334/335 under RAND
terms; and an archived email from the aforementioned inventor is
cited by the Mono Project as further promising that the RAND licensing
would be offered royalty-free.
However, if one examines the details of the patent declaration,
Microsoft states that the RAND licensing is available "to any party
requesting it". The royalty-free addendum by Jim Miller does not
relieve this requirement to actually request the license from
Microsoft. In addition, the patent declaration ensures its validity
only for the duration of the ECMA standard.
Not to conflate the issues of patent licensing with copyright
licensing, but if it is indeed required that the patent indemnity be
requested then from a patent license perspective, the Mono
implementation should fail Debian Legal's "Desert Island" and
"Dissident" tests for DFSG compliance because upstream must be
contacted and the licensees identified. Furthermore, the limitation of
the validity of the patent declaration to the duration of the ECMA
standard should fail the DFSG's "Tentacles of Evil" test.
Now I would certainly agree that patent claims of persons or companies
not involved in the development of a Free Software project should not
be sufficient cause for exclusion of that software from Debian Main;
however, it seems that when it is the Free Software project itself
asserting the claims, and relies upon the licensing from the patent
holder as justification for practicing those patents, it is
appropriate to consider the actual terms of that licensing.
The core of the .NET Framework, and what has been patented by Microsoft
falls under the ECMA/ISO submission. Jim Miller at Microsoft has made a
statement on the patents covering ISO/ECMA, (he is one of the inventors
listed in the patent): here