CyberTech Rambler

May 29, 2008

“Microsoft is not bound by, nor grants any rights under, any third party licenses with respect to the Moonlight Implementation (e.g., any versions of the General Public License).”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:13 pm

Groklaw has an article that says GPL developers cannot use Moonlight, backed by SFLC analysis. You are of course advised to consult your lawyers on what you can and cannot do for ALL third party licenses you plan to use, regardless of whether it is an open or close source license. For joe public like me. This will probably be the only legal analysis I need to stop me from using Moonlight. After all, I cannot afford a lawyer, let alone any lawsuit any company see fit to throw onto me.

What really interest me is of course the disclaimer in the Moonlight covenant, which I had used as the title. It is interesting. Remember that virtually as soon as GPL version 3 were published, Microsoft says it does not believe GPL v3 applies to the MS-Novell interoperability agreement but yet see fit to amend the agreement to include a language to such effect?

I think we might be seeing the start of a  trend, i.e., anything Microsoft associate with the MS-Novell interoperability agreement will carry such  “disclaimer”. It may be a “boilerplate” thing. At the minimum, Microsoft is taking a “defensive” position to allow it to at least make an argument in court later if someone tries to hold them to GPL v3.

Is it effective? In general you cannot disclaim your responsibility for anything you entered into by simply putting out a disclaimer. I am pretty sure some day, some time we will find out, but I do not know when. I for one have not enough money to find out for myself.

One other thing: As we know, the MS-Novell agreement is “grandfathered in” GPL v3. It was controversial. Now, we have a new dimension: How much is grandfathered in?? Moonlight is obviously a new thing. Most people, perhaps excluding lawyers, will agree it is something post “grandfathered in” cut-off date. It appears that MS, with implicit Novell’s agreement, is at least trying to create a defense by tying  the MS-Novell agreement with Moonlight in an effort to “back date” Moonlight Covenant. That’s interesting.

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