Mueller said that in a bid to appease the FOSS community, "in which there is a widespread belief that the GPL doesn't allow inbound patent licensing, Red Hat emphasized in its announcement that its settlement also covers 'community members' (upstream and downstream) as 'third party beneficiaries'. Indeed, Section 9.12 of the settlement agreement contained some provisions.
"In the press release announcing the deal, Red Hat's patent attorney Richard Fontana said: 'Red Hat's settlement satisfies the most stringent patent provisions in open source licenses, is consistent with the letter and spirit of all versions of the GPL and provides patent safety for developers, distributors and users of open source software'.
He said Eben Moglen of the Software Freedom Law Center reviewed the agreement and concluded that it would also be compatible with GPLv3 (although only GPLv2 was relevant to that particular deal). "He liked the fact that its terms 'provide additional protection to other members of the community upstream and downstream from Red Hat' and welcomed 'Red Hat's efforts on the community's behalf'."
Mueller added: "Considering a $4.2 million payment compatible with the GPL is, however, in contradiction with what Red Hat and its lobbying fronts claim in different political and regulatory contexts.
"For example, when the European Commission was updating its European Interoperability Framework (a set of procurement guidelines), Red Hat and its different lobby groups claimed that only royalty-free standards are compatible with the GPL and other important FOSS licenses (sic).
"I debunked that false claim and instead advocated a proper distinction between patent licensing terms and conditions that work for FOSS from those that don't. That is exactly the approach the EU took in the final version of those guidelines.
"I believe Red Hat should have told European policymakers the truth about its FireStar settlement and unknown number of other patent license (sic) deals in place instead of trying to gain a political advantage with incorrect claims that royalties are inherently GPL-incompatible."
A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.