Samba Team Asks Novell to Reconsider

Gerald (Jerry) Carter jerry at
Sun Nov 12 16:27:45 GMT 2006

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The Samba Team disapproves strongly of the actions taken
by Novell on November 2nd.

One of the fundamental differences between the proprietary
software world and the free software world is that the
proprietary software world divides users by forcing them
to agree to coercive licensing agreements which restrict
their rights to share with each other, whereas the free
software world encourages users to unite and share the
benefits of the software.

The patent agreement struck between Novell and Microsoft
is a divisive agreement. It deals with users and creators
of free software differently depending on their "commercial"
versus "non-commercial" status, and deals with them
differently depending on whether they obtained their free
software directly from Novell or from someone else.

The goals of the Free Software community and the GNU GPL
allow for no such distinctions.

Furthermore, the GPL makes it clear that all distributors
of GPL'd software must stand together in the fight against
software patents. Only by standing together do we stand a
chance of defending against the peril represented by software
patents. With this agreement Novell is attempting to destroy
that unified defense, exchanging the long term interests of
the entire Free Software community for a short term advantage
for Novell over their competitors.

For Novell to make this deal shows a profound disregard for
the relationship that they have with the Free Software community.
We are, in essence, their suppliers, and Novell should know
that they have no right to make self serving deals on behalf
of others which run contrary to the goals and ideals of the
Free Software community.

Using patents as competitive tools in the free software
world is not acceptable. Novell, as a participant in numerous
debates, discussions and conferences on the topic knew this
to be the case. We call upon Novell to work with the
Software Freedom Law Center to undo the patent agreement
and acknowledge its obligations as a beneficiary of the
Free Software community.

- -- The Samba Team
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