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Is the Microsoft-Novell deal dead on arrival?

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SUSE

The potentially historic Microsoft-Novell pact announced last week, whereby Microsoft would grant patent peace to users of Novell's Suse Linux software in exchange for royalty payments paid by Novell to Microsoft, will be dead by mid-March, promises Eben Moglen, the general counsel of the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The FSF controls the license that governs the distribution of Linux and many other key forms of free and open-source software.

The license, known as the GNU General Public License (GPL), had already been in the process of revision. In an interview with me this morning, Moglen promised that the foundation will now make "further changes" to the GPL that will make crystal clear that the Novell-Microsoft pact, or any similar pact, will violate it.

"It will surely violate GPL version 3," said Moglen, referring to the forthcoming version. Version 3 had been expected to be in place no later than March 15, 2007, though Moglen said he was uncertain whether the new circumstances would affect that schedule. "GPL version 3 will be adjusted so the effect of the current deal is that Microsoft will by giving away access to the very patents Microsoft is trying to assert."

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