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Re: Regarding BitKeeper and its price list

On Mon, Oct 07, 2002 at 11:08:34AM -0600, Jason Gunthorpe wrote:
> What bothers me is that you used the phrase 'on behalf of the debian
> project' when asking someone who appears to have done something legally
> questionable

Let's please not slanderously speculate as to what Zac Hansen may or
may not have done.

> to disclose a private email conversation. 

He was perfectly free to refuse.  I see nothing wrong with *asking*, if
it's done politely, which I think I did.

Or is it your position that the only things we don't know aren't worth

> You could have said that you were leading a discussion within Debian on
> the merits of BK and would like Mr. Hansen to publish his conversation.
> That would have at least made it quite clear Debian has nothing to do with
> this request.

Yes, that would have been a better way to put it.  I'll keep it in mind
for future reference.  In any case, Zac has since sent me a private mail
that made it clear that he didn't misunderstand my meaning as you feared
he might have.

Is my word good enough, or would you like me to ask him to mail you or
this list expressing the same thing?  Or ask him personally, if you
like.  His email address is no secret, and is readily available in this

> I mean really, what if Larry's Laywer gets upset that Mr Hansen's
> conversation has been make public? He sent it to you, someone who claims
> to be representing Debian _and you published it_.

You're making a few reckless assumptions here, so let's try and
distinguish what is known from what isn't.

1) We are given to understand that Larry McVoy has asserted copyright
   protection on a file sent to Zac Hansen that contained a price quote;
2) Apparently, Larry threatened a copyright infringement suit, not a
   tort for breach of contract, which is likely what one would do someone
   violated an NDA;
3) Zac Hansen did not indicate to me that he was under any sort of
   non-disclosure agreement with Larry regarding the belittling and
   threatening emails Larry sent to him;
4) Larry appears to have made disparaging remarks about people on the
   linux-kernel mailing list, which he presumably knows is publicly
   archived, so it's not like the emails Zac sent us -- assuming they're
   authentic -- expose a side of Larry's personality that isn't already
   on public view;
5) I didn't publish the materials which were allegedly under NDA or over
   which Larry threatened a copyright infringment suit.
6) Copyright does not cover facts or ideas, but just specific
   expressions of facts or ideas that contain some element of
   originality.  A copyright infringement threat is therefore
   insufficient to prevent Zac Hansen or anyone else from making public
   a BK price quote that they have received.  Assuming people understand
   the law, that is.

> Debian is now involved in this dispute, and I think that is entirely
> inappropriate. 

Debian's only "involved" if Larry wants to involve us.  Given that he
seems to think the publicity is good for business, I don't think we have
anything to worry about.  Neither I nor Debian qua Debian[1] have
breached any sort of agreement with Larry.  Do you fear that we are
under legal threat from Larry McVoy just because we're talking about
something that is also being discussed in linux-kernel?  Do you fear
that speaking the name of the Devil will cause him to appear?

Please leave the armchair lawyering to the armchair lawyers.

[1] Did "Debian" breach the BitKeeper gratis license when Ben Collins did?
Does that depend on whether Ben used any Debian machines -- or used
machines which are also used for Debian purposes -- to do the Linux 1394
work in question?  If you're going to get censure-happy, Jason, I
suggest you start with the people who've admitted "wrongdoing".
Personally, though, I stand prepared to defend Ben's actions and his
honor in this matter.  He cured the "breach" as soon as he was made
aware of it.  I'm not aware of committing any "breach" of anything,
except possibly that of a sane and reasonable length for an email
footnote.  :-)

G. Branden Robinson                |      The National Security Agency is
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      working on the Fourth Amendment
branden@debian.org                 |      thing.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |      -- Phil Lago, Deputy XD, CIA

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