Over on Safe as Milk, Dave Neary has an interesting piece where he disagrees with rms on mono. Dave is a high muckety-muck in GNOME, and a lot of people, including yours truly, get very alert when “GNOME” and “mono” get used together, so it’s worth a read to see what he says!
Mr. Neary adopts a reasonable enough position: don’t encourage mono, but he disagrees with rms that active discouragement is the proper course. He then rightfully goes on to point out the law is an ass.
The part I take issue with is the suggest that “ignoring the patent system” completely is the right answer, and “let the chips fall where they may”. This sounds nice and idealistic, but let me raise on issue:
Most companies are not going to “let the chips fall where they may”
You may get a brave individual to make a stand for a cause, but you will have a hell of a time finding a for-profit commercial entity to do so. That’s just the nature of things…and it is something that Novell and Microsoft exploit: time and time again, codephrases like “respecting intellectual property” and “piece of mind” waft up from the bowels of PR departments, always inferring (if not flatly stating) that Novell/Microsoft is the only safe choice.
Therefore, I see ignoring patents to develop on mono, but “respecting” them in Novell PR as developers rewarding Novell’s tactics. That just rubs me the wrong way.
You see, I think Novell should be at Microsoft’s door everyday saying, “Listen. You guys have to clear up this issue – it’s too divisive and it’s hurting us all.” But they aren’t. Novell is content – if not downright pleased – to play up their exclusive arrangement with Microsoft and other proprietary sources. In fact, that’s largely the backbone of Novell’s current strategy – and just happens to be the vast majority of the Novell revenue stream as well.
So, it’s a bit strange to suggest that some individual developer or non-Novell project should be the one making the stand. It is Novell that is pushing mono – so it is Novell’s responsibility to make sure everything is clear for everybody. Until they can do that the community has the legal and ethical responsibility to limit the spread of mono.