Microsoft tries to sidestep GPL 3

Microsoft says selling Linux coupons doesn't constitute acceptance of the new General Public License, and those coupons won't include support for GPL 3 software.

Microsoft on Thursday began taking evasive action to avoid being pinned down by provisions in the new version 3 of the General Public License (GPL).

The company issued a statement declaring itself not a party to GPL 3. And regarding coupons it sells that entitle customers to , customers won't get support from Novell or anyone else for any GPL 3 software in that package.

"At this point in time, in order to avoid any doubt or legal debate on this issue, Microsoft has decided that the Novell support certificates that we distribute to customers will not entitle the recipient to receive from Novell, or any other party, any subscription for support and updates relating to any code licensed under GPL 3," the company said, though it left the door open to a revision of this policy later.

The GPL 3, issued last week, is a significant update of the most widely used license in the open-source programming realm.

Microsoft's move is a response to a provision in the GPL 3 that, according to the Free Software Foundation, means that patent protections Microsoft extends to Novell's Suse Linux customers are automatically extended to any users of GPL 3 software in that package.

Microsoft disputed this position.

"While there have been some claims that Microsoft's distribution of certificates for Novell support services, under our interoperability collaboration with Novell, constitutes acceptance of the GPL 3 license, we do not believe that such claims have a valid legal basis under contract, intellectual property, or any other law," Microsoft said.

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About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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