The FSF Wants Microsoft To Do More To Help Fight Software Patents
Written by Michael Larabel in Microsoft on 11 October 2018 at 05:16 AM EDT. 34 Comments
MICROSOFT --
Following yesterday's rather landmark move of Microsoft joining the Open Invention Network and thus allowing much of its vast patent collection now being allowed to help off patent attacks within the Linux/open-source ecosystem, the Free Software Foundation applauded the move but wants Microsoft to do more.

Microsoft joining the Open Invention Network comes a week after the Redmond company joined LOT Network as well to help fight patent trolls. While the FSF welcomed these Microsoft announcements, to little surprise they would like Microsoft to do more. John Sullivan as the Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation is calling on Microsoft to:
1) Make a clear, unambiguous statement that it has ceased all patent infringement claims on the use of Linux in Android.

2) Work within OIN to expand the definition of what it calls the "Linux System" so that the list of packages protected from patents actually includes everything found in a GNU/Linux system. This means, for example, removing the current arbitrary and very intentional exclusions for packages in the area of multimedia -- one of the primary patent minefields for free software. We suggest that this definition include every package in Debian's default public package repository.

3) Use the past patent royalties extorted from free software to fund the effective abolition of all patents covering ideas in software. This can be done by supporting grassroots efforts like the FSF's End Software Patents campaign, or by Microsoft directly urging the US Congress to pass legislation excluding software from the effects of patents, or both. Without this, the threats can come back with a future leadership change at Microsoft, or with changes in OIN's own corporate structure and licensing arrangements. This is also the best way for Microsoft to show that it does not intend to use patents as a weapon against any free software, beyond just that free software which is part of OIN's specific list.
Obviously that would be a tall order for Microsoft... But we'll certainly be on the lookout for any more surprises from the company that has been making interesting Linux/open-source moves under the direction of Satya Nadella.

The Free Software Foundation's statement on Microsoft's recent announcements can be read at FSF.org.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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