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Re: regular (aka bsd) compress distribution?

> I don't want anyone to risk anything, I just don't believe that the
> problem is so serious because nobody else seems to care about it.
> If it is - better move the distribution outside the US now, it only
> gets worse.  Not only something that was in the public domain may be
> patented, you can also get in trouble if there is a four-letter word
> in some package.  It is very unfortunate that most Linux distributions
> come from the US, and users around the world have to live with such
> silly restrictions.  And the free world is only 100ms away...

Whoa, there!  Moving outside the U.S. does _not_ make you immune to
either patents or copyrights!  There are huge international agreements
to stop just this (and rightly so).  Sure, you can find countries that
don't have such an agreement with the USA, but that still doesn't make
it ethical.

Second, LZW was _never_ public domain.  It was "publicly disclosed", as
that is what a patent is (all details released to the public).  Unisys
just never bothered to enforce their rights before.

> they often come without a C compiler.  And it's more than just compress
> - also various programs using the GIF format, which are non-free in
> Debian for just this reason.  Yes, there are better formats than GIF,
> but GIF is unfortunately still the widely used standard.

Actually, only the "Welche (sp?) compression improvement" is patented.
Lempel-Zip is public domain, as are LZ and LZW decompression methods.
GIF has always been copyright by Compuserve, but it isn't patented (it
is, after all, as specific instance as opposed to a specific
implementation).  GIF decoders are not exposed to the patent, though
they can be affected by Compuserve's copyright.

> Proposal: not necessarily before the 1.1 release, but perhaps one of
> the many non-US Debian mirror sites could become the primary site.
> Now we can maintain the full international distribution, and remove
> certain packages (compress, GIF, PGP, ssh, ...) only from CD-ROMs
> sold in the US.  This way we can keep everyone reasonably happy.

You might get away with it, but that doesn't make it right.

Note: I'm not saying that compress should not be distributed; that
depends on the restrictions Unisys puts on it.  All I'm saying is that
trying to bend the rules is wrong.

                               ( bcwhite@verisim.com )

    In theory, theory and practice are the same.  In practice, they're not.

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