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Old 22nd April 2011
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Default Google, Linux, and Patent Infringement...

This has been all over various news sites as a judge in East Texas ruled against Google for patent infringement and has deemed Google responsible for a $5 Million USD fine. Although never a good thing when patent lawsuits start being thrown around, my take is this actually might be a good situation for BSD due to it's licensing model. It's in its history that BSD went through a lot of legal problems of its own with AT&T, which resulted i(as I recall) in the rewrite of the Unix system to 4.4 BSD-Lite. Thoughts?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04..._linux_patent/
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Old 22nd April 2011
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Don't see how that helps BSD. The USL/BSDi/Berkeley case didn't involve patents. If I get what you're saying, then by that line of thought Google shouldn't have had a problem since Linux had lots of legal problems with SCO. But no, that didn't involve patents either and even if it had there's nothing to say changes since might have used patents.

The only way I could think this sort of thing is good for BSD is if it gets users from Linux because they see it as a lower profile free Unix and hope not to be noticed by patent trolls. This seems a pretty cynical kind of hope. Perhaps we should hope Linus Torvalds gets hit by a truck while we're at it.
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Old 22nd April 2011
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Okay. I think I get it now. Company A bases product around OpenBSD, say. They add code violating various patents and distribute binaries. Because the license isn't copyleft this is fine and they're safer since patent trolls wouldn't have the option of reading their source to detect violations. They commit back to the project bug fixes and other changes their lawyers deem safe and their strategists deem not competitive edge. Sure, makes sense. Companies using Linux see this case and realize company A is really on to something. BSD wins.

I still hold with the cynical comment though.

Last edited by thirdm; 22nd April 2011 at 05:18 PM. Reason: grammar less bad make
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Old 22nd April 2011
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Hi,

I think the cynicism is pretty valid and okay too, but I was speaking more generally about the actual legal specifics. Maybe what I was really talking about was intellectual property.

I do think if this sets a precedent for companies having to fork over licensing fees, it will cause business entities to seriously reconsider their investment in Linux which in some cases might result in switching to a BSD-based solution.

I would certainly hope that companies would not switch to BSD simply because they see it as being a lower-profile-therefore-safer option, as I think most of us would agree they are serious platforms/workhorses up to the most demanding of tasks.

As a side note, Linux certainly has made inroads through--what some would say-- is a chaotic committal process. However, when you compare that with what model the BSD systems have had in terms of release engineering/long lineage/stability etc (not to mention the fact they are complete operating systems in and of themselves and not just a kernel +packages), I would hope that companies would take note of these 'strengths' in addition to the good licensing model. I should mention that I am also speaking very 'generally' about Linux as well: there are of course some great, stable, distributions like Gentoo or even RHEL etc even though, yes I am biased to BSD : P

But yes, I think the licensing model would present some serious obstacles to patent trolls for example, but maybe I am wrong. I suppose we would only be able to find out if BSD somehow exploded onto the scene as Linux has, thereby attracting the vultures (read: Lawyers).
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Old 22nd April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilsgecko View Post
Hi,
...
But yes, I think the licensing model would present some serious obstacles to patent trolls for example, but maybe I am wrong. I suppose we would only be able to find out if BSD somehow exploded onto the scene as Linux has, thereby attracting the vultures (read: Lawyers).
Only in as much as it allows users not to release their software as free software while using other people's software without paying for it (not even paying a measly $50 Canadian for a cdrom in many cases, apparently). As a human consuming products and services that's to my advantage I suppose -- the cheaper products, the companies that succeed and offer competition to the market. As a programmer and hobbiest greedy for free code to look at and use it's of little interest.

The license does nothing to protect BSD programmers distributing their work freely. If a company like this wanted to shutdown any of the BSDs, they could easily probe their publicly available source for a patent in use, then slap an injunction on them and go after whatever little money there's to be had. If they're looking for money they'd go after the Junipers and NetApps of the world. But maybe they just don't want to be undercut by free software. Then they might choose to go after the projects themselves. Probably wouldn't be particularly difficult, these projects not having ready access to skilled Berkeley lawyers like in the past unless perhaps Marshal McKusick could drum up a favor from an old friend.

So I'm going off to renew my FSF membership. Maybe I'm the only OpenBSD user contributing to them, but whatever.
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Old 22nd April 2011
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In the US software patents are approved far too easily, and there are so many of them, it's safe to say every open source project violates a handful of them.

It is a an unfortunate situation, but luckily software patents aren't universally legal.. some countries don't acknowledge them.

Live in one of those countries and remain blissfully ignorant, that's what I do.
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Old 22nd April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilsgecko View Post
It's in its history that BSD went through a lot of legal problems of its own with AT&T, which resulted i(as I recall) in the rewrite of the Unix system to 4.4 BSD-Lite.
This was a copyright issue, not a patent issue. Although they both deal with intellectual property, these are very different concepts.

You are right that 4.4BSD-Lite was the version without the code that AT&T claimed copyright to, but this was far from a complete rewrite. From memory it was 4 header files or something in that order.
It also wasn't quite “a lot of legal problems”, it was “only” one lawsuit…

Looking back, it was a silly lawsuit where no party actually gained anything and only damaged the reputation and perception of BSD, AT&T, and UNIX in general.
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Old 22nd April 2011
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it was a silly lawsuit where no party actually gained anything and only damaged the reputation and perception of BSD, AT&T, and UNIX in general.
That's the truth. Linux wouldn't be nearly as big as it is now if this lawsuit hadn't occurred.
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Old 23rd April 2011
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so what? freebsd would be the same as what linux is now. don't fool yourself.
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Old 23rd April 2011
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so what? freebsd would be the same as what linux is now. don't fool yourself.
No, it would be much better than Linux. It would be just like Windows!
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Old 23rd April 2011
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No, it would be much better than Linux. It would be just like Windows!
Or OS X. Oh wait.
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Old 23rd April 2011
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Quote:
The license does nothing to protect BSD programmers distributing their work freely. If a company like this wanted to shutdown any of the BSDs, they could easily probe their publicly available source for a patent in use, then slap an injunction on them and go after whatever little money there's to be had.
Sad.

To Carpetsmoker and BSDfan666, Thank you for the insight and viewpoints.
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Old 23rd April 2011
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Quote:
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so what? freebsd would be the same as what linux is now. don't fool yourself.
I said nothing about freebsd. I simply said that linux wouldn't be as big as it is now. No fooling required, just reading and comprehending.
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Old 23rd April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilsgecko View Post
Sad.
This is one of the things I love most about BSD. Its warm and friendly community.

You don't agree with the point? Then I again don't understand how you could ever think the BSD license would offer an advantage over GPL for patents, at least for freely available source. The BSD license says nothing whatever about patents. Obviously there's no advantage there for the projects themselves, only for their users with code to add on that should remain hidden.

I should backtrack and say I'm not aware of patented items used in BSD, but I'd be surprised if there weren't something somewhere. Maybe even a violation of this patent they went after Linux for. It sounded pretty broad, like keeping a linked list, automatically freeing items you notice are unused as you traverse it and using a hash to identify the items unused, or something like that. Might not BSD do something similar somewhere in their file system code?
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Old 23rd April 2011
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Quote:
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This is one of the things I love most about BSD. Its warm and friendly community.
+1 haha

Oh, you forgot to close the tag...</sarcasm>
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Old 23rd April 2011
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Or OS X. Oh wait.
Wait for what? The year of the Linux on desktop? We are waiting for that since 1992 and it is still less than 0.5% of the global market
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Old 23rd April 2011
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This is the year of Linux on the smartphone, though. More than 300K new activations daily, worldwide.
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Old 23rd April 2011
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This is the year of Linux on the smartphone, though. More than 300K new activations daily, worldwide.
Having some experience with Android, iPhones and writing applets for both platforms I can just say that I am very sadden by the fact that technologically superior platform (iPhone) is losing the battle. The whole story reminds me of the loss of Beta in Beta vs VHS wars of early eighties.
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Old 24th April 2011
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Quote:
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Having some experience with Android, iPhones and writing applets for both platforms I can just say that I am very sadden by the fact that technologically superior platform (iPhone) is losing the battle. The whole story reminds me of the loss of Beta in Beta vs VHS wars of early eighties.
I don't think it's as simple as that. iPhone certainly has advantages over Android, but also has a lot of disadvantages.
For starters, you lose a lot of freedom.
An app can't even enter the App store if it's not approved by Apple. And the approval process if far from a walk in the part. Apps have been suddenly pulled from the app store without notice because it incorrectly used some API method... :-/

Android also offers another advantage, it runs on everything. iOS only on one: the iPhone.
If you want a smartphone with a physical keyboard, or a smaller smartphone, or one with a longer battery life, or with some other feature Apple doesn't deem worthy: tough luck.

There's also the issue that iPhones are 3 or 4 times as expensive. If you use your (smart)phone only casually as most people do, the price simply isn't worth it.

This is purely from a "user perspective" by the way, I never did any development on either platforms so I can't compare them on that level.

There's a lot more to be said about this, but it's getting a bit OT...
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Old 24th April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jggimi View Post
This is the year of Linux on the smartphone, though. More than 300K new activations daily, worldwide.
Why? Because of the Linux kernel? The shell is mksh, libc is from NetBSD/OpenBSD, etc.
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