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Re: [Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org>] Re: Debian & BSD concerns

On Thu, 11 Mar 1999, Stephen J. Carpenter wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 11, 1999 at 01:24:43AM -0700, Bruce Sass wrote:
> > On Wed, 10 Mar 1999, Stephen J. Carpenter wrote:
> > 
> > > You can dissasemble their program and write your own still..not using
> > > any of their code and still not violate their copyright...
> > > However...it is hard, if not impossible to prove that you didn't steal
> > > their code.
> > > 
> > > This is where the "clean room" idea of reverse engineering comes in.
> > > 1 person reverse engineers the code and documents it. They would
> > > extensivly document how the whole thing works. (without code)
> > > Then hands the docs to a second party who then codes it.
> > > 
> > > In this manner the coder has not even seen the copyrighted work and
> > > thus can not possibly copy it
> > 
> > If I was the license holder I would be arguing that the work is a
> > derivative, void of originality... 
> You can CLAIM anything you like...this is how it is actually
> done "properly". Imagine this:

Claiming something is one thing, arguing in court is quite another.

> Person A dissassembles and analzes MS Word and uses it to document all
> of MS Word .doc file format. 
> He then hands a description of MS Word .doc format to person B who
> codes a program to read/write it. 
> The actual codeing is no differnt than reading an RFC. Would you
> say that the linux TCP/IP v4 stack has no originality because
> all they had to do was read the RFC on IPV4?

The IPV4 RFC is not proprietary, so no one would be trying to claim that
their rights were being infringed upon. 

> > or am I thinking more of patent issues...
> > is that why MS would prefer more complex 'net protocols,
> > because they could be patented?
> Patenets are differnt. A patent is publicly available. ANYONE can look
> up the patent and see exactly how it works and how to impliment their
> own. However...the patent prevents anyone from doing it for the length
> of the patent (about 20 years?)

Actually, patents are how an idea gets protected.  No one is prevented
from using information in a patent, as long as you can work out a
licensing agreement with the patent holder; and if you don't, then you
will have a pretty tough time claiming that what you did is original
unless you can come up with proof that the idea was developed
independently or prior to the patent. 

What I was wondering with that last bit is if software code is being
seen as non-intuitive enough to be patentable (obviously some is, RSA),
and perhaps that is MS's goal wrt protocols.

- Bruce

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