Subject: RE: Patent-based dual-licensing open source business model
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <lrosen@rosenlaw.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2006 15:59:22 -0700

Ben Tilly wrote:
> PS Also note that the idea of actively using patents in any way will
> cause many in the free software world to start foaming at the mouth
> and showing other signs of being unreasonable.  But you knew that.

I'm not surprised.... 

It often takes a while to explain new ideas. I'm glad that the people on
this list haven't resorted to foaming yet. I'm dreading getting back to the
Groklaw conversation on this same topic, though, for that very reason, but I
can't avoid it any longer.

"Patents!" There, I've said it. Should I go to free software jail? 

/Larry


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ben Tilly [mailto:btilly@gmail.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, September 13, 2006 3:12 PM
> To: lrosen@rosenlaw.com
> Cc: Free Software for Business
> Subject: Re: Patent-based dual-licensing open source business model
> 
> On 9/13/06, Lawrence Rosen <lrosen@rosenlaw.com> wrote:
> [...]
> > What is the difference between buying a Dell computer and then
> downloading
> > Linux, as opposed to buying a Dell computer preconfigured with Linux?
> The
> > honest answer is: The second alternative offers us an opportunity for a
> > commercial license under patent law, without worrying about bit-for-bit
> > analyses or derivative work complexities. Dell is making money on that
> deal;
> > in our view, so should the author of the software and the inventors of
> its
> > embodied patents. :-)
> [...]
> 
> I've stayed out of this discussion, but that paragraph epitomizes why
> I do not consider this free software, and why I expect projects like
> Debian to actively avoid these patents and any software based on these
> patents.  (Whether or not their guidelines have considered this case.)
> 
> One point of using free software is relative licensing simplicity.  As
> long as you're not trying to become non-free software, you can use a
> bundle of free software in pretty much any reasonable way and not
> worry about any gotchas.  Of course the ideal doesn't quite meet that,
> for instance I can't take Linux code and cut and paste it into BSD
> code, but it is fairly close for practical purposes.
> 
> For instance someone can take a distribution like Debian, make some
> custom modifications, and give it a catchy name like  Linspire.  I am
> then free to pre-install that on computers that are being sold by
> Walmart.  While I have to check that my custom modifications are OK, I
> don't have to go through the entire software base to see if there are
> any hidden gotchas, if Debian has done their job there won't be.  That
> wouldn't be true if Debian included anything covered by this patent.
> 
> Since the Debian project cares about this use case, I'm willing to bet
> that they won't accept any software covered by this patent.  How
> they'll figure it out under their guidelines I don't know, but they
> are sure not to accept it.
> 
> Cheers,
> Ben
> 
> PS Also note that the idea of actively using patents in any way will
> cause many in the free software world to start foaming at the mouth
> and showing other signs of being unreasonable.  But you knew that.