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Re: LZW patented file left in .orig.tar source package?

On Wed, Oct 23, 2002 at 11:36:12PM -0500, Jeff Licquia wrote:
> I don't mean to say that removing the LZW code is a bad idea; I think
> it's the safest route.  But I am very nervous about the implication that
> uncompiled source code, by itself, can infringe on a patent.  It seems
> to imply that I cannot learn about the patent without infringing on it,
> which violates the basic idea of patents: public disclosure in return
> for a temporary monopoly.

I think you're missing the point.

Debian should not be shipping -- in source or binary form -- anything in
"main" that isn't DFSG-free, because unless we make a good-faith effort
to ensure that everyting in main is DFSG-free, our users cannot make a
good-faith assumption that they can exercise certain freedoms with the
software on their Debian systems without reading every word of every
copyright license.

I share your concerns, but I don't think they are relevant to the
specific question we're being asked to address.

The code has got to come out of the package.  Or the package could move
to non-free.  I haven't thought deeply about it yet, but I suspect if
this package were *already* in non-free, and someone was telling us we
had to yank out patented uncompiled source code, I'd take your side in
the argument, and insist that we must have the right under patent law to
leave the source code available for public inspection.

I have, however, educated myself on patent law to far lesser degree than
I have on copyright law.

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |         Ab abusu ad usum non valet
branden@debian.org                 |         consequentia.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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