S Tanna

June 26, 2003

I found the 1st part of his article more interesting. Do courts consider societal arguments in a case such as this?

9:10:58 AM


June 26, 2003

Yes. The impact on the public is considered.

9:15:54 AM

Greg T Hill

June 26, 2003

As to the allegation that you never know where open source code comes from, the reverse is true. With an open source project it is usually possible to trace each contribution. With closed source you have no idea where the code originated. I doubt that SCO's (as successor in interest, don't they inherit AT&T's misdeeds as well?) misappropriation of BSD code was a unique occurrence.

2:54:10 PM


June 26, 2003


Are you by any chance a kernel contributor? If so, would you like to write out, with links/proofs, how the process works? I'll post. It doesn't have to be long, just true.

5:24:31 PM

Dr Stupid

June 26, 2003

I'm not Greg, but as I understand it the process has evolved like this: Firstly, patches to the kernel are submitted to the kernel developers' mailing list, either directly or via maintainers. Since the mailing list is publicly archived, there is a record of who submitted each patch and the subsequent discussion. This record extends back before the kernel was put under formal source code revision control with BitKeeper software.

As an example of the value of this archive, when NUMA support was first posted to the list, a developer pointed out NUMA was patented. Then some IBM chaps pointed out that Sequent held the patent, that IBM had bought Sequent, and that it was ok with IBM. This exchange demonstrates that the kernel developers do take IP issues seriously and do not set out to infringe other's rights.

Secondly, contributed code has a copyright notice attached from the original author(s). Thus for any source file in the kernel, one can see the individuals who claim copyright (and who should therefore be sued if they're lying ;)

It is true that those who submit code to the kernel do not sign an affidavit saying "I solemnly swear this is my own IP" each time, but that doesn't happen in any sort of development. The developer, in open and closed source, implicitly attests that he/she is not infringing on anything (to the best of his/her knowledge.)

Thirdly, because the kernel source code is available for public viewing, the developers are making it as easy as possible for others to verify that the kernel is not infringing their IP. Remember that in general it is the IP holder's responsibility to defend his/her IP. This is significant in Chandler's analysis: since SCO can see the kernel code, but refuse to point out the infringing sections so that any infringement can be dealt with, it can be argued that the doctrine of laches applies (I think ;)

10:08:58 AM

Copyright 2003