By webmink on Sep 05, 2007
I see Miguel is expecting flak for his initiative to implement Silverlight on GNU/Linux, and I'm sure he'll get it. The thing that caught my eye, however, was what terms I was asked to agree to if I as much as give Silverlight a try on any other platform in the ecosystem Miguel is helping create. Just take a look at the license agreement you're assumed to agree to if you so much as click the "Get Silverlight" button (yes, your acceptance is there in 4-point text in the Get... graphic). You will be agreeing you will not:
- work around any technical limitations in the software;
- reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the software, except and only to the extent that applicable law expressly permits, despite this limitation;
- publish the software for others to copy;
- rent, lease or lend the software; or
- transfer the software or this agreement to any third party.
In addition to that, you are agreeing:
- that the limit of Microsoft's liability in any matter (including "internet services") is $5;
- that Microsoft can gather information about your computer and internet connection;
- that they can automatically modify the software.
Update:As Miguel repeatedly points out, if you're smart enough to actually read the license you'll discover you can opt out of these last two defaults. Most people won't.
If you're a business, you're also not covered by the MPEG patent licenses, and you may be agreeing to waive some of your other contract terms if you're a Microsoft competitor.
Now, I'm not a lawyer but to my eyes, all those are terms that are incredibly hostile to the spirit and practice of Free software. Miguel is encouraging you to surrender your freedoms if you're using the technology he promotes anywhere but the operating system he is working on. He's the lure for someone else's trap.
That's also why I don't yet share Tim O'Reilly's enthusiasm for Microsoft's apparent epiphany. I realise it will take them a long time to modify their historic behaviours, and I would welcome their decision to promote software freedom. Their new projects, however, should not be actively undermining our freedoms like this, and I can only conclude that regardless of any lip-service to "open source", software freedom is not yet their goal. That's the issue, Tim.
Update: Luis has a great photo and also a great point about patent protection. Also, to be clear, Moonlight is under a Free license, not under the EULA I'm commenting on above. My issue is rather that it acts a the lure to an architecture designed at best with no regard to software freedom and at worst withthe intent of removing it.