updated 02:10 pm EDT, Fri June 29, 2007
GPL v3 and Microsoft
The Free Software Foundation's just-posted GPL version 3 license may cause problems for Microsoft, according to clauses added to the agreement. The updated edition of the GNU Public License specifically includes terms that are likely meant to defend against Microsoft's recent practices of signing patent licensing deals with Novell and other firms that offer open-source software, many of which have done so in exchange for protection against lawsuits. Licensees are no longer able to impose license fees to modify or otherwise use the software the way the GPL specifies.
"You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights granted or affirmed under this License," says the agreement. "For example, you may not impose a license fee, royalty, or other charge for exercise of rights granted under this License, and you may not initiate litigation (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that any patent claim is infringed by making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the Program or any portion of it."
Although Linux has not adopted the new GPL and is not set to receive a changed license in the future, an upgraded license could undo many of Microsoft's attempts to collect royalties from Linux distributors, which the company has used to threaten Linux as a whole by raising the possibility of patent infringement lawsuits.
Microsoft has yet to respond to the version 3 license.