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Re: centericq and MSN support

On Thu, Oct 23, 2003 at 04:47:21PM +0200, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 23, 2003 at 10:25:22AM -0400, Brian Ristuccia wrote:
> > On Thu, Oct 23, 2003 at 03:33:24PM +0200, Julien LEMOINE wrote:
> > > Hello,
> > > 
> > > 	I uploaded today a version of centericq with support for last msn protocol 
> > > (MSN9). I received a question from upstream author, he do not want to
> > > include this patch in official release for the moment because he do not
> > > know if this is legal.
> > > 
> > > 	Does someone know if this MSN9 support is legal ?
> > > 
> > > 	A short resume of the problem is given on gaim page [1], microsoft now 
> > > require a licence for connecting on a msn server.

> > For the purposes of Debian, you need to concern yourself only with whether
> > the software itself can be distributed without infringing on any copyright
> > held on the software itself. As of version (4.9.2-5arc), centericq was
> > distributable under the terms of the GNU GPL, which we generally consider to
> > be acceptable. 

> > (The fact that end users might use the software for something illegal is
> > irrelevant to whether or not it can be included in Debian. One can use
> > mixmaster for industrial espionage, john to brute-force UNIX password files
> > for the purpose of making unauthorized use of private computers, some
> > half-dozen or more packet sniffers to run illegal wiretaps, GNU shred to
> > destroy evidence, and xvidtune to commit arson[1]. We still distribute
> > those).

> However, that does not mean the same is true for the upstream author;
> and if he requests that you wait until he's checked with a lawyer, I
> don't think it's unreasonable to do so.

My understanding of the above is that the request is being made by the
upstream author of centericq, who is *not* the author of this patch.

The gaim link referenced from the original post says "If not, people may
find a way to connect anyway, but the legalities of this are pretty
obvious."  In fact, there doesn't seem to be anything obvious at all on
that page; it refers to the DMCA and "intellectual property", but makes
no mention of why reverse-engineering statutes don't protect this
particular protocol deciphering, or how Microsoft expects to "require a
license" for connecting to their network.  There's simply not enough
information here to support an informed decision about the legality of
the code in question.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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