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Re: ms-sys contains MBRs which are copyrighted by Microsoft

I fully agree with the argument for the package removal (though nobody
should believe that the copyright holder would ever take any
copyright-enforcement action, which is irrelevant here).

It is however very reasonable to believe that the user who wants to
_restore_ such code to the MBR indeed has the rights to use this code.

I mean the user has the licence to use one of the operating systems
that come with this code.

In the case the user wants to _restore_ this code but does not have
such rights, it is anyway the case that the user was already using
this code before, and all that ms-sys is doing for the user is to
bring his system back to the state it was before a linux install,
which cannot be reasonably considered as assisting the user in the
copyright infringement. I may be wrong at this point, please feel free
to disagree.

So the main legal problem is that ms-sys *contains* copyrighted code.

There may be other solutions to this rather than removing ms-sys from
the repositories.

It definitely would not be copyright infringement to ask the user to
grab these 446 bytes from a previous backup of their system, or from
another PC where the user has a legal copy of such MBR code.

For security reasons it could perform a checksum verification to
protect the user from a corrupt or virus-infected backup file.

So the simple changes in the source would be:
* remove the problematic file from the source code
* change the source code to
-look for a 446-byte file with a specific filename
-if absent, produce error message explaining what the user is supposed
to do and exit
-perform the checksum verification
-if fails, produce appropriate error message and exit
-copy the file to the mbr

(Is it also be copyright violation to distribute checksums along with
the program? In this case, add "look for the presence of a checksum
file with a given name etc; if absent, produce an error message
telling the user to copy it from a trusted source etc and exit".)

Don Armstrong wrote:
> severity 425943 serious
> retitle 425943 ms-sys contains MBRs which are copyrighted by Microsoft
> thanks
> ms-sys contains verbatim copies of the master boot records of windows
> 2000 and windows 95B et al. While it would be valid to reimplement an
> MBR in such a way that it was functionally similar to an MBR that
> boots these MS operating systems, the length and expressive content of
> the MBR makes it rather likely that it is copyrightable, and that we
> have not been granted the right to distribute, nor is the assembly in
> question licensed in accordance with the DFSG (nor is the assembly
> even actually present, which falls afoul of DFSG §2).
> Finally, debian/copyright does not properly discuss this problem at
> all, nor does it mention the copyrights on syslinux's mbr or any of
> the other mbrs which are present.
> Possible solutions to the problem are:
> 1) Re-implement any MBRs for which the source/copyright is not
> available.
> 2) Get permission to distribute and modify the MBR from MS and
> distribute a disassembled and commented version; if distribution only,
> move ms-sys to non-free.
> 3) Remove ms-sys from the archive
> I strongly suggest if #1 or #2 doesn't occur relatively rapidly that
> #3 is taken as an interim measure until it can be rectified.
> Don Armstrong
> -- 
> I shall require that [a scientific system's] logical form shall be
> such that it can be singled out, by means of emperical tests, in a
> negative sense: it must be possible for an emperical scientific system
> to be refuted by experience.
>  -- Sir Karl Popper _Logic of Scientific Discovery_ §6
> http://www.donarmstrong.com              http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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