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Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!snorkelwacker!bloom-beacon!rlcarr
From: rlc...@athena.mit.edu (The Veteran Cosmic Rocker)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.amiga
Subject: thought Dillon and friends would like to know
Summary: Goddamned software patents!
Message-ID: <1990Jul27.204559.26305@athena.mit.edu>
Date: 27 Jul 90 20:45:59 GMT
Sender: dae...@athena.mit.edu (Mr Background)
Organization: Melnibone
Lines: 39
Posted: Fri Jul 27 21:45:59 1990

pass it on...
Grrrrrr!
DAMN software patents!

From: r...@AI.MIT.EDU
Newsgroups: gnu.gcc
Subject: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more
Message-ID: <9007271812.AA09756@sugar-bombs.ai.mit.edu>
It's not imaginary--it's happening.

The people who wrote the compress program and put it in the public
domain had no way of knowing that a patent was pending for the
algorithm.  The patent was later granted, and now Unisys says we're
not allowed to run compress without their permission.

There doesn't seem to be a basis for overturning the patent legally,
so the FSF is going to have to stop using compress.  It's unlikely
that Unisys would sue us--but we would not want to put the users in a
compromised position where they would need permission to use
uncompress.

We're now looking into other data compression algorithms to use
instead of compress.  If we find one, then we will replace all the
compressed files on prep.  If we cannot come up with something
suitable, then we will switch to uncompressed files for distribution
as soon as we come up with the disk space to store them.

This is just the beginning of the shocks that software patents will
cause the user community.  If you want more information on the issue,
send mail to lea...@prep.ai.mit.edu and ask for the position paper on
software patents.
--[0626]-- (nref = [0627])


--
Rich Carreiro                                    The "War on Drugs"
ARPA: rlc...@athena.mit.edu                      is merely a smokescreen for
UUCP: ...!mit-eddie!mit-athena!rlcarr            The War on the Constitution
BITNET: rlc...@athena.mit.edu      JITTLOV FOREVER!

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!sunic!uupsi!rpi!zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!sdd.hp.com!
cs.utexas.edu!mailrus!iuvax!maytag!looking!brad
From: b...@looking.on.ca (Brad Templeton)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <1990Jul28.061540.25261@looking.on.ca>
Date: 28 Jul 90 06:15:40 GMT
References: <1990Jul27.183116.29756@iwarp.intel.com> <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> 
<31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU>
Organization: Looking Glass Software Ltd.
Lines: 36
Posted: Sat Jul 28 07:15:40 1990

I am amazed at the attitudes of people here.  Unisys doesn't owe you or
us anything.  They have been aware of software compressors for a long time --
not just compress, but ARC and others -- and made a decision that they would
not (at this time) complain about non-hardware implementations of LZW.

One of the reasons for this is that LZW was designed for hardware because
it (with the fixed sized word and one-pass approach) can be easily implemented
in hardware, unlike many other algorithms.

They include firmware as hardware, and require licences from makers of
compressing modems that use LZW.  Again, the one-pass high quality compression
makes LZW good for modems.

Unisys has been generous in not persuing software versions.  I'm no lawyer,
so I would await comment from a patent expert on whether such inattention
is harmful to their ownership.

But that really doesn't matter.  Too often on USENET I have heard people
complain when something they got free due to somebody's generousity is taken
away.  I have little tolerance for such complaints.  (If you disagree with
the concept of software patents, discuss that in trial.misc.legal.software)

The only report we have so far is that Randall says that they are looking
into enforcement on software versions -- this is a vague statement, and
we probably shouldn't even get worked up.

So to suggest that they be punished for not giving away their algorithm
is silly.  And to suggest that they can't do anything because it's already
ubiquitous is also silly.  You can find Lotus 1-2-3 everywhere, but that
never stoped 'em from taking step to make sure they're paid.  (Yes that's
copyright rather than patent, but the point's the same.)

If you have such a big problem, write your own program.  There are
algorithms that compress more, you know.  Although few do it as quickly.
-- 
Brad Templeton, ClariNet Communications Corp. -- Waterloo, Ontario 519/884-7473

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!tellab5!news
From: n...@Tellabs.COM (News)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: compress patented 
(was [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <3176@tellab5.tellabs.com>
Date: 29 Jul 90 04:08:55 GMT
References: <1990Jul27.183116.29756@iwarp.intel.com> <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> 
<31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU>
Organization: Tellabs, Inc. Lisle IL
Lines: 5
Posted: Sun Jul 29 05:08:55 1990


Let us hope and pray that cooler and less ill tempered head prevail. Remember
the suid bit is also patented. So far AT&T hasn't sued about minix.

When all else fails quote The Bard: "First we kill all the lawyers..."

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!decwrl!sdd.hp.com!samsung!dali.cs.montana.edu!
milton!uw-beaver!zephyr.ens.tek.com!tektronix!nosun!tessi!onion!jeff
From: j...@onion.pdx.com (Jeff Beadles)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: compress patented 
(was [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <1990Jul31.023532.8075@onion.pdx.com>
Date: 31 Jul 90 02:35:32 GMT
References: <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> <31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> 
<3176@tellab5.tellabs.com>
Organization: Little to none
Lines: 10
Posted: Tue Jul 31 03:35:32 1990

In article <3...@tellab5.tellabs.com> n...@Tellabs.COM (News) writes:

>Let us hope and pray that cooler and less ill tempered head prevail. Remember
>the suid bit is also patented. So far AT&T hasn't sued about minix.

Yes, but suid was also released to the public domain.

	-Jeff
-- 
Jeff Beadles	j...@onion.pdx.com	j...@quark.wv.tek.com

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!isis!ico!rcd
From: r...@ico.isc.com (Dick Dunn)
Newsgroups: news.admin,gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more
Message-ID: <1990Jul31.191523.2497@ico.isc.com>
Date: 31 Jul 90 19:15:23 GMT
References: <9007271812.AA09756@sugar-bombs.ai.mit.edu> <104465@convex.convex.com>
Organization: Interactive Systems Corporation, Boulder, CO
Lines: 19
Posted: Tue Jul 31 20:15:23 1990

a couple of recent comments...
> >...and now Unisys says we're
> >not allowed to run compress without their permission.

> It's really rude for Unisys to be doing this...

Although this business of compress bothers me, I think it would bother me
a lot more if I'd seen anything from Unisys about what's really going on.

The best I've been able to track down is a comment that Unisys had made
some rumblings about licensing at a POSIX meeting...but I've also heard
that the compress algorithm and format were being considered for incor-
poration into POSIX, and that sentiment was strongly against including
it if it turned out to require any sort of licensing.

Sure would be nice to have some real info...
-- 
Dick Dunn     r...@ico.isc.com  -or-  ico!rcd          (303)449-2870
   ...Software, not suits.

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!shelby!apple!usc!cs.utexas.edu!
tut.cis.ohio-state.edu!AI.MIT.EDU!tower
From: to...@AI.MIT.EDU (Leonard H. Tower Jr.)
Newsgroups: gnu.announce
Subject: [r...@ai.mit.edu: compress patent]
Message-ID: <9008012311.AA04248@rice-chex>
Date: 1 Aug 90 23:11:21 GMT
Sender: dae...@tut.cis.ohio-state.edu
Reply-To: r...@ai.mit.edu
Distribution: gnu
Organization: GNUs Not Usenet
Lines: 103
Approved: info-...@prep.ai.mit.edu
Posted: Thu Aug  2 00:11:21 1990

Forwarded-For: r...@ai.mit.edu

I've heard that some people disbelieve that compress is patented.  So
I am sending this letter, which reportedly was printed in Dr. Dobbs,
March 1990.

>  Dear DDJ,
>    In the "Letters" column of your December 1989 issue, Mark Nelson
>  discusses U.S. Patent 4,558,302 entitled ``High Speed Data Compression and
>  Decompression Apparatus and Method.''  The patent was developed by Terry
>  Welch, a former Unisys employee, and is owned by Unisys.  According to Mr.
>  Nelson, I have been quoted as saying that Unisys will ``license the
>  algorithm for a one time fee of $20,000.''  As a concession to the modem
>  industry, Unisys has agreed to license the patent to modem manufacturers
>  for use in modems conforming to the V42.bis data compression standard
>  promulgated by CCITT, for a one-time fee of $20,000.  This $20,000 license,
>  however, is not a general license under all applications of our patent but
>  is limited to the specific application discussed above.
>    Responding to the second paragraph of Nelson's remarks, Unisys is
>  actively looking into the possibility that a large number of software
>  developers may be infringing one or more of our data compression patents.
>  We have only recently become aware of these potential infringers and the
>  process of taking action will take some time.
>    Unisys is happy to accept inquiries from persons interested in acquiring
>  a license to U.S. Patent 4,558,302.  If your readers have any further
>  questions, they should contact Mr. Edmund Chung of our licensing office, at
>  [Phone number deleted]
>  					Robert S. Bramson
>  					Unisys

(I did not include the phone number because I would hate to be
responsible for helping them get customers.)

I first found out about the problem in the draft of the POSIX user
portability extension standard (P1003.2a).  They propose to make
compress a requirement for POSIX despite the fact that it might be
covered by this patent.  I have quoted the relevant passage below.
(Note that there are rumours that the POSIX committee is negotiating
for royalty-free use of compress in POSIX systems, but Hal Jesperson,
the chairman of the committee, has told me this is not so.)

There is some disagreement as to whether the patent actually is valid,
and whether it actually covers compress.  Unisys says it does.  The
POSIX committee (in another part of 1003.2a) says the patent "seems
to" apply.  James Wood thinks it does not.  Reportedly some computer
companies think it does not.  I cannot have an opinion--I am not the
right kind of expert.  But even if I were, I couldn't be certain.
There's no certainty in what a judge will rule.

The only thing we can be sure of is that there is a reasonable chance
of being sued and losing.  If Unisys doesn't sue us this year, they
could sue us next year.  And fighting in court would cost hundreds
of thousands, even if we win.

Therefore, I think it is best to kill off compress as a standard (even
a de facto one) as soon as possible, since it will get harder with
time.  The more we become dependent on it, the more we are at a
disadvantage in any negotiation or maneuvering.

To those who argue the invalidity or inapplicability of the Unisys
patent under the current legal system, I wish success.  However, even
supposing we are lucky this time, it is just a taste of what will
happen over and over again.  We have to solve the overall problem of
software patents, or we will have to fight one patent after another,
each at great expense, for the rest of our careers.


>From POSIX 1003.2a:

5.5 compress -- Compress data

Editor's Note:  There are patent issues associated with
@code{compress}, @code{uncompress}, and @code{zcat}.  The
Lempel-Ziv-Welch algorithm described here may be covered by US patent
4 558 302, assigned to Unisys Corporation.  We are in the process of
obtaining a letter from the Unisys legal department that acknowledges
POSIX.2's reference to the patented algorithm and commits to license
the use of the algorithm to all POSIX.2a system providers on an
unrestricted, equal-access basis for a "reasonable" fee.  Such a
letter would meet the IEEE's requirements for specifying patented
technology in a standard.  If this letter cannot be obtained, these
three utilities will be dropped from the next draft.

It is not possible for the P1003 group or the IEEE to negotiate with
the patent holder on the specific terms of the license agreement or on
the size of the reasonable fee; this might be considered a violation
of US antitrust laws.  It will be the responsibility of those
providing POSIX.2a systems to deal directly with the patent holder.

The IEEE allows reference to patented items if it is the consensus of
the developers of a standards project to require those items for
technical purposes within a standard.  The IEEE Standards Manual
states, in Section 7, that "there is no objection in principle to
drafting a proposed IEEE standard in terms that include the use of a
patented item, if it is considered that technical reasons justify this
approach."

The technical experts of the P1003.2a balloting group are asked to
evaluate this technology on its technical suitability alone--does it
properly fit within the scope of the proposed standard and meet all
technical objectives?  Since all issues concerning patent licensing
are being resolved to the IEEE's satisfaction, ballot objections
outside the technical domain will not be considered responsive

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!shelby!apple!usc!cs.utexas.edu!
tut.cis.ohio-state.edu!AI.MIT.EDU!tower
From: to...@AI.MIT.EDU (Leonard H. Tower Jr.)
Newsgroups: gnu.announce
Subject: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more
Message-ID: <9008012337.AA04395@rice-chex>
Date: 1 Aug 90 23:37:16 GMT
Sender: dae...@tut.cis.ohio-state.edu
Reply-To: r...@ai.mit.edu
Distribution: gnu
Organization: GNUs Not Usenet
Lines: 26
Approved: info-...@prep.ai.mit.edu
Posted: Thu Aug  2 00:37:16 1990

Forwarded-For: r...@ai.mit.edu
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 90 14:12:26 EDT

It's not imaginary--it's happening.

The people who wrote the compress program and put it in the public
domain had no way of knowing that a patent was pending for the
algorithm.  The patent was later granted, and now Unisys says we're
not allowed to run compress without their permission.

There doesn't seem to be a basis for overturning the patent legally,
so the FSF is going to have to stop using compress.  It's unlikely
that Unisys would sue us--but we would not want to put the users in a
compromised position where they would need permission to use
uncompress.

We're now looking into other data compression algorithms to use
instead of compress.  If we find one, then we will replace all the
compressed files on prep.  If we cannot come up with something
suitable, then we will switch to uncompressed files for distribution
as soon as we come up with the disk space to store them.

This is just the beginning of the shocks that software patents will
cause the user community.  If you want more information on the issue,
send mail to lea...@prep.ai.mit.edu and ask for the position paper on
software patents.

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!jarthur!usc!zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!
math.lsa.umich.edu!math.lsa.umich.edu!emv
From: e...@math.lsa.umich.edu (Edward Vielmetti)
Newsgroups: news.admin,gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more
Message-ID: <EMV.90Jul31184440@urania.math.lsa.umich.edu>
Date: 1 Aug 90 01:44:40 GMT
References: <9007271812.AA09756@sugar-bombs.ai.mit.edu>
	<104465@convex.convex.com> <1990Jul31.191523.2497@ico.isc.com>
Sender: use...@math.lsa.umich.edu
Organization: University of Michigan Math Dept., Ann Arbor MI.
Lines: 91
Posted: Wed Aug  1 02:44:40 1990
In-Reply-To: rcd@ico.isc.com's message of 31 Jul 90 19:15:23 GMT

In article <1990Jul31.191523.2...@ico.isc.com> r...@ico.isc.com (Dick Dunn) writes:

   > It's really rude for Unisys to be doing this...

   Although this business of compress bothers me, I think it would bother me
   a lot more if I'd seen anything from Unisys about what's really going on.

I tried to get some real info.

The person I talked to was Tom Baumgarten, 1-313-972-7718.  He called
me back after I addressed a question to Edmund Chung, 1-313-972-7714.
Tom is a high-priced corporate lawyer from the sounds of it, and he
called me back, so I figure whatever I learned was on Unisys' dime.

Some selected quotes will give you the flavor of the conversation.  He
was pleasant enough and fairly talkative (must have been a slow day).
It was apparent that he wasn't too terribly aware of the prevelance of
compress(1), nor that companies like Sun and Dec ship it with their
systems; the focus of their awareness apparently is limited to modem
manufacturers and other hardware implementations.  It almost sounded
like he really didn't want to hear from me; more than once he
suggested that if I just kept my use of compress to non-commercial
uses, or at least nothing that made big bucks, that no one was going
to hassle me.

Unisys apparently believes that this patent is to be treated as
property, no more no less.  It is a device to generate a stream of
revenue.  Given the high cost of a patent infringement lawsuit (est.
$2M), it's probably not going to pay to sue anyone and win unless you
the patent-infringer has "deep pockets".  Regarding licensing, it
didn't sound hopeful that I as an individual user could buy the right
to use that patent.  So far sounds pretty grim.

On the other hand, there is a hopeful light.  It seems as though IBM
has a cross license agreement with Unisys.  Thus it would seem to me
that if you got your copy of compress(1) from IBM that it would be
legal.  Would it be legal to run those sources on a Sun?  I dunno.
"Seek advice of counsel."  

Unisys, at least in the persona of Tom Baumgarten, has no idea of the
size of the Unix market.  Any time I brought up Unix, the next
paragraph out of his mouth talked about "hackers".  I don't think he
knows much about networks -- when I told him that I got my copy of
compress over the NSFnet, he said "we'll have to sue them"....

There was no sympathy registered with the fact that compress has been
thought to be in the public domain for years.  "It's our property
people are using... It's something that we want a piece of."  And
given the spectre of thousands of irate people on the net harboring
bad feelings about Unisys, he just said "Ill will isn't a problem."

The value of the Unisys patent depends on several factors: the
availability, quality, and license cost (if any) of alternative
compression algorithms; the willingness of corporations to license
their patent; and the probable cost to a firm of being successfully
sued for patent infringement.  If comparable technology can be created
under some other reasonable licensing restriction (like the Berkeley
license or the GNU Public License), and if it is substantially
equivalent in function and value to compress, then the Unisys patent
will be worth less.  Perhaps much less (how much would you pay for the
right to use Huffman encoding, not much huh?)

There are several ways that I can see to fight this bit of corporate
greed.  

Continue to openly use compress(1), in open infringement of U.S.
Patent 4,558,302; this incurs some small (or possibly large) chance of
being tapped on the shoulder by a Unisys lawyer.  I'm not a lawyer
(chorus: But I Play One On The Net!), you may be risking civil or
criminal penalties every time you uncompress a file.  You can feel
self-righteous about that.

The Free Software Foundation should pursue an alternative to
compress(1), having all of its desirable qualities and none of its
entanglements.  A survey of compression methods was recently put on
comp.archives, perhaps that would be a good start at seeing what's out
there.  This compression method would be used to distribute all FSF
releases.

Call Unisys (or their lawyers) and ask about licensing costs, patents,
and such like.  Try to nail them down on what it would cost you to use
one copy of compress at home for personal use.  I doubt that you'll
get a reasonable answer, but it's worth a try.

Join the League for Programming Freedom.  (note: I haven't done so
yet, but I think it's a good idea.)

--Ed

Edward Vielmetti, U of Michigan math dept <e...@math.lsa.umich.edu>
"Ill will is not a problem."

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!clyde.concordia.ca!news-server.csri.toronto.edu!
utgpu!utzoo!henry
From: he...@zoo.toronto.edu (Henry Spencer)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more
Message-ID: <1990Aug1.164242.21065@zoo.toronto.edu>
Date: 1 Aug 90 16:42:42 GMT
References: <9007271812.AA09756@sugar-bombs.ai.mit.edu> <104465@convex.convex.com> 
<1990Jul31.191523.2497@ico.isc.com> <EMV.90Jul31184440@urania.math.lsa.umich.edu>
Organization: U of Toronto Zoology
Lines: 9
Posted: Wed Aug  1 17:42:42 1990

In article <EMV.90Jul31184...@urania.math.lsa.umich.edu> e...@math.lsa.umich.edu 
(Edward Vielmetti) writes:
>The Free Software Foundation should pursue an alternative to
>compress(1)...

It would be better if it were done at (or for) Berkeley, given their less
restrictive licensing policies.
-- 
The 486 is to a modern CPU as a Jules  | Henry Spencer at U of Toronto Zoology
Verne reprint is to a modern SF novel. |  he...@zoo.toronto.edu   utzoo!henry

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!cs.utexas.edu!uwm.edu!bbn.com!drilex!dricejb
From: dric...@drilex.UUCP (Craig Jackson drilex1)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: compress patented 
(was [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <14212@drilex.UUCP>
Date: 2 Aug 90 15:42:29 GMT
References: <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> <31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> 
<3176@tellab5.tellabs.com> <1990Jul31.023532.8075@onion.pdx.com>
Organization: DRI/McGraw-Hill, Lexington, MA
Lines: 18
Posted: Thu Aug  2 16:42:29 1990

In article <1990Jul31.023532.8...@onion.pdx.com> j...@onion.pdx.com (Jeff Beadles) 
writes:
>In article <3...@tellab5.tellabs.com> n...@Tellabs.COM (News) writes:
>
>Somebody else wrote:
>>Let us hope and pray that cooler and less ill tempered head prevail. Remember
>>the suid bit is also patented. So far AT&T hasn't sued about minix.
>
>Yes, but suid was also released to the public domain.

Another note: I don't think the release of suid was out of Dennis's big
heart, but part of one of the anti-trust consent decrees over the years.
An earlier (and even more significant) release was that of the patent
on the junction transistor ...

-- 
Craig Jackson
dric...@drilex.dri.mgh.com
{bbn,axiom,redsox,atexnet,ka3ovk}!drilex!{dricej,dricejb}

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!snorkelwacker!apple!chuq
From: c...@Apple.COM (Smile when you say that)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: compress patented 
(was [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <43572@apple.Apple.COM>
Date: 3 Aug 90 00:20:08 GMT
References: <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> <31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> 
<3176@tellab5.tellabs.com> <1990Jul31.023532.8075@onion.pdx.com> <14212@drilex.UUCP>
Organization: Out in Left Field
Lines: 16
Posted: Fri Aug  3 01:20:08 1990

dric...@drilex.UUCP (Craig Jackson drilex1) writes:

>Another note: I don't think the release of suid was out of Dennis's big
>heart, but part of one of the anti-trust consent decrees over the years.
>An earlier (and even more significant) release was that of the patent
>on the junction transistor ...

Actually, according to someone I know working with Posix, it was because
Posix told them if it wasn't released they'd simply remove the concept of
setuid from Posix. Think of THOSE implications.

-- 
Chuq Von Rospach   <+>   c...@apple.com   <+>   [This is myself speaking]

We tend to idealize tolerance, then wonder why we find ourselves infested 
with losers and nut cases -- Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!isis!ico!rcd
From: r...@ico.isc.com (Dick Dunn)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: compress patented (and POSIX)
Summary: why can't they do it again?
Message-ID: <1990Aug3.213954.20396@ico.isc.com>
Date: 3 Aug 90 21:39:54 GMT
References: <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> <31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> 
<43572@apple.Apple.COM>
Organization: Interactive Systems Corporation, Boulder, CO
Lines: 15
Posted: Fri Aug  3 22:39:54 1990

c...@Apple.COM (Smile when you say that) writes:

[note on releasing the setuid patent]
> Actually, according to someone I know working with Posix, it was because
> Posix told them if it wasn't released they'd simply remove the concept of
> setuid from Posix. Think of THOSE implications.

OK, so why can't it be done again?  I've seen the statements attributed to
the POSIX committee on the matter of compress, and I don't understand why
they don't quite care.  ("Reasonable terms" is quite different from
"released"...and anyway, who defines what's "reasonable"?)  Why should a
standard contain a requirement for a piece of patented technology?
-- 
Dick Dunn     r...@ico.isc.com -or- ico!rcd       Boulder, CO   (303)449-2870
   ...Are you making this up as you go along?

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!jarthur!bridge2!3comvax!tymix!cirrusl!sunstorm!dhesi
From: dhesi%cirr...@oliveb.ATC.olivetti.com (Rahul Dhesi)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <2132@cirrusl.UUCP>
Date: 4 Aug 90 04:02:37 GMT
References: <1990Jul27.183116.29756@iwarp.intel.com> <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> 
<31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> <1990Jul28.061540.25261@looking.on.ca>
Sender: n...@cirrusl.UUCP
Organization: Cirrus Logic Inc.
Lines: 36
Posted: Sat Aug  4 05:02:37 1990

In <1990Jul28.061540.25...@looking.on.ca> b...@looking.on.ca (Brad
Templeton) writes:

>I am amazed at the attitudes of people here.  Unisys doesn't owe you or
>us anything.  They have been aware of software compressors for a long time --
>not just compress, but ARC and others...

It's generally considered unsporting to allow the public to use private
property (intellectual or physical) for an extended period of time and
make no effect to enforce one's property rights, and then suddenly --
*after* the public is dependent on access to this property -- begin
enforcing such rights.

Had Unisys/UNIVAC/Burroughs (whoever) been up-front at the very
beginning and made it clear that it intended to enforce its
intellectual property rights, users would either have negotiated
licensing agreements, or used other techniques.  To wait until the
world is dependent on LZ, and THEN suddenly begin trying to extract
money, is nasty.

I'm presenting a moral concept, but I believe that in specific cases at
least (e.g. right to passage) this is a legal concept too.  If you give
something away and the public becomes dependent upon it, you might not
be allowed to take it back later.

Actually I may being a little harsh here.  The most likely scenario is
that in the confusion of the merger of UNIVAC and Burroughs, the LZ
patent fell through the cracks, and only recently did some smart
attorney realize that there was money to be made.  In other words,
confusion, not malice, probably explains why Unisys didn't take any
steps to enforce its patents until now.  It doesn't affect my final
conclusion, though:  that an attempt to enforce the patent at this late
stage in the game is unsporting, and deserves to be censured.
--
Rahul Dhesi <dhesi%cirr...@oliveb.ATC.olivetti.com>
UUCP:  oliveb!cirrusl!dhesi

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!aplcen!uakari.primate.wisc.edu!
dali.cs.montana.edu!rpi!uwm.edu!zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!brutus.cs.uiuc.edu!
ux1.cso.uiuc.edu!iuvax!maytag!looking!brad
From: b...@looking.on.ca (Brad Templeton)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <1990Aug04.081316.25754@looking.on.ca>
Date: 4 Aug 90 08:13:16 GMT
References: <1990Jul27.183116.29756@iwarp.intel.com> <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> 
<31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> <1990Jul28.061540.25261@looking.on.ca> 
<2132@cirrusl.UUCP>
Organization: Looking Glass Software Ltd.
Lines: 54
Posted: Sat Aug  4 09:13:16 1990

In article <2...@cirrusl.UUCP> dhesi%cirr...@oliveb.ATC.olivetti.com (Rahul Dhesi) 
writes:
>It's generally considered unsporting to allow the public to use private
>property (intellectual or physical) for an extended period of time and
>make no effect to enforce one's property rights, and then suddenly --
>*after* the public is dependent on access to this property -- begin
>enforcing such rights.

Unsporting?  Would it have been "sporting" if they had sued ruthlessly
at the start?  Oh yeah, you would have all loved them for it.  "Thanks for
suing Mr. Sperry.  Because it would be really nasty of you not to sue and
to let us get complacent."  I'm sure everybody would have said that.

And people are not, except through laziness or cheapness, dependent on
it.  There *are* other compression programs.  And changing your compress
program for netnews takes about ten minutes time per link with most news
software.

>
>Had Unisys/UNIVAC/Burroughs (whoever) been up-front at the very
>beginning and made it clear that it intended to enforce its
>intellectual property rights, users would either have negotiated
>licensing agreements, or used other techniques. 

I doubt it.  What do you want them to do, take out ads?  Sue? So you're
damned if you sue and damned if you don't.

This is hardly some conspiracy of Unisys' to the best of my knowledge.
One of their guys developed a good fast compression variant.  They patented
it, and saw the commercial application primarily in hardware -- disk
controllers, etc.  So they persued it.  They didn't worry about the software
compressor end -- the obviously didn't think it was as viable.  Some some
other people, without bothering to ask, made a software version and started
using it.  It became popular, largely because it was 'free.'

Now that it's getting popular, Unisys (it is reported) finally sees the
potential to make a buck in that end.  So, it is hypothesized, they may
start charging.

And this is a great crime?  Just what do you expect?  It seems that some
people here feel that the only moral thing to do is to give it away forever.
(And some consider algorithm patent wrong -- that thread's in
trial.misc.legal.software right now.)

If people get this sort of ill will for not being viscious law sharks,
for being lax in protecting property until its value is discovered -- what
sort of message do you send out to people?

It seems that the message is "never give anything away unless you plan to
give it away forever" and "sue everybody in sight even if it doesn't
seem viable at this time."

Are these the messages you wish to send, Rahul?
-- 
Brad Templeton, ClariNet Communications Corp. -- Waterloo, Ontario 519/884-7473

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!clyde.concordia.ca!news-server.csri.toronto.edu!
utgpu!utzoo!henry
From: he...@zoo.toronto.edu (Henry Spencer)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: compress patented (and POSIX)
Message-ID: <1990Aug4.212431.28490@zoo.toronto.edu>
Date: 4 Aug 90 21:24:31 GMT
References: <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> <31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> 
<43572@apple.Apple.COM> <1990Aug3.213954.20396@ico.isc.com>
Organization: U of Toronto Zoology
Lines: 25
Posted: Sat Aug  4 22:24:31 1990

In article <1990Aug3.213954.20...@ico.isc.com> r...@ico.isc.com (Dick Dunn) writes:
>c...@Apple.COM (Smile when you say that) writes:
>[note on releasing the setuid patent]
>> Actually, according to someone I know working with Posix, it was because
>> Posix told them if it wasn't released they'd simply remove the concept of
>> setuid from Posix. Think of THOSE implications.
>
>OK, so why can't it be done again?  I've seen the statements attributed to
>the POSIX committee on the matter of compress, and I don't understand why
>they don't quite care.  ("Reasonable terms" is quite different from
>"released"...and anyway, who defines what's "reasonable"?)  Why should a
>standard contain a requirement for a piece of patented technology?

Because the patented technology does the job better than anything else.
In case you haven't noticed, Ethernet is patented too, and that didn't
stop IEEE from standardizing it.

Also, I suggest taking Chuq's report with a grain of salt.  I can't turn
up specific dates, but my recollection is that the change of status for
the setuid patent occurred well before POSIX got underway.  Certainly
AT&T stopped charging royalties on the patent in 1981, although my notes
don't make it clear whether they actually turned it loose then or later.
-- 
The 486 is to a modern CPU as a Jules  | Henry Spencer at U of Toronto Zoology
Verne reprint is to a modern SF novel. |  he...@zoo.toronto.edu   utzoo!henry

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!tut.cis.ohio-state.edu!mesquite.charcoal.com!
charcoal.com!karl_kleinpaste
From: karl_kleinpa...@charcoal.com
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <KARL.90Aug4185858@mesquite.charcoal.com>
Date: 4 Aug 90 22:58:58 GMT
References: <1990Aug04.081316.25754@looking.on.ca>
Sender: karl_kleinpa...@mesquite.charcoal.com
Organization: Charcoal Communicators
Lines: 72
Posted: Sat Aug  4 23:58:58 1990

b...@looking.on.ca writes:
   Unsporting?  Would it have been "sporting" if they had sued ruthlessly
   at the start?

A little hyperbole goes a long, long way, Brad.  There is a huge gray
area between the pearl white and coal black ends of "give it away" and
"sue everyone in sight."

It would have been "sporting" of Unisys to have made some sort of
public announcement of the state of things as soon as they realized
what was happening.  I find it impossible to believe that everyone at
Unisys who was aware of the patent status of the LZ algorithm was
completely disconnected from the Usenet, unaware of GIF, and oblivious
to PKZIP and whatever other archivers are out there.  Here's a quick
hack at an imaginary "sporting" announcement:

imaginary: We at Unisys are aware that an implementation of the
imaginary: Lempel-Ziv-Welch data compression algorithm known simply as
imaginary: "compress" (authors Thomas, Wood, et al) is gaining
imaginary: popularity among the Usenet community as a means of
imaginary: reducing data transfer costs.  Please be aware that Unisys
imaginary: owns the rights to this algorithm, having filed patent
imaginary: application against it on DD MMM YYYY.  It may be in our
imaginary: interests in the future to license this algorithm, and
imaginary: hence the "compress" implementation, should our patent
imaginary: application be approved.  Bear this in mind, as it relates
imaginary: to decisions about whether to increase dependency on it.

Think of it as fair warning.  No, we're not truly dependent on it,
even now.  But it'll be mighty inconvenient to switch away from it for
news feeds, as well as the effort to convert huge quantities of
archived materials all over the planet.  Also, the conversion of many
other things which contain LZW (such as GIF) to use some other
compressor will take quite some effort.

Yes, something more "sporting" would have been in order -- assuming
that Unisys decides to go after the matter in the first place.  From
what we've seen so far that's concrete (e.g., Ed's talk with a lawyer
at Unisys), there isn't much really happening.

   What do you want them to do, take out ads?

No.  A single note crossposted to comp.sources.d, comp.sources.wanted,
and news.admin would have been in order (about 5 years ago [heh],
pre-Great Renaming; so it should have been net.sources.d etc), to let
the Usenet house be kept in order.  Announcement on CompuServe a long
time ago would have helped GIF matters.  As for the ARC and PKZIP
contingent, I dunno -- frankly, none of this would have been necessary
if the original IEEE Computer article had mentioned the patent status
in the first place.  Thomas and Wood might not have bothered.

I have no objection, at base principles, to Unisys holding a patent on
the algorithm, and charging a license fee for its use.  I do object
quite strenuously to what appears to be a possible back door entry.

Consider this analogy.  I run this funky mail gateway to CompuServe.
I don't get a nickel for it -- I run it just 'cuz it's fun to run.  My
perception of my own professional integrity would drop substantially
if I decided, now, to try to make a buck off of it.  I can't even if I
wanted to; I did it with OSU hardware.  On the other hand, given the
success of that gateway, if I were to find another entity which wanted
such a connection, I'd rework the concepts from scratch, use my own
hardware, and charge a fee for the service -- I know how valuable it
is.  (If I could charge $0.02/msg, I wouldn't have to worry about my
house payment.  Now _that's_ valuable to me.)  Having discovered the
value, I'd attempt to reap the benefits...NEXT TIME.

Once something is given away, _it's_given_away_.  And I can't help but
believe that Unisys people knew the state of things a long, long time
ago, and by inaction, gave it away.

--karl

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!clyde.concordia.ca!news-server.csri.toronto.edu!
utgpu!utzoo!henry
From: he...@zoo.toronto.edu (Henry Spencer)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <1990Aug5.012317.4034@zoo.toronto.edu>
Date: 5 Aug 90 01:23:17 GMT
References: <1990Aug04.081316.25754@looking.on.ca> 
<KARL.90Aug4185858@mesquite.charcoal.com>
Organization: U of Toronto Zoology
Lines: 10
Posted: Sun Aug  5 02:23:17 1990

In article <KARL.90Aug4185...@mesquite.charcoal.com> karl_kleinpa...@charcoal.com 
writes:
>Once something is given away, _it's_given_away_...

Which is why, with a couple of specific exceptions, gifts are made only
by explicitly expressed intent of the giver.  Tomcats have to piss on
their territory regularly or another cat moves in, but humans usually
adopt a somewhat higher standard of respect for other people's property.
-- 
The 486 is to a modern CPU as a Jules  | Henry Spencer at U of Toronto Zoology
Verne reprint is to a modern SF novel. |  he...@zoo.toronto.edu   utzoo!henry

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!rick
From: r...@uunet.UU.NET (Rick Adams)
Newsgroups: news.admin,gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more
Summary: Read the patent
Message-ID: <100107@uunet.UU.NET>
Date: 5 Aug 90 17:33:44 GMT
References: <NICKSON.90Aug1100332@circa.comp.vuw.ac.nz> 
<1990Aug4.031236.9344@eci386.uucp>
Followup-To: gnu.misc.discuss
Organization: UUNET Communications Services, Falls Church, VA
Lines: 26
Posted: Sun Aug  5 18:33:44 1990

The text for patent "4,558,302 Dec. 10, 1985 Welch" can be ftped from
uunet.uu.net as pub/lzw-patent.Z

It's fun (and virtually indecipherable) reading. For example, they claim

	   10. The compression apparatus of claim 5 further including
	initializing means for storing in the locations of said memory
	means an empty indicia signal representing that the location
	storing said empty indicia signal is empty, said empty
	indicia signal having a value not equal to any compressed code
	signal.

or, as best as I can figure out

	int table[N]

	for(i=0;i<n;i++)
		table[i] = NIL;

is one of their intellectual property claims. (So be careful about
initializing your tables!)

There are 181 claims, many as specious as this (and many probably legitimate
"invention").

--rick

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!mailrus!ncar!ico!rcd
From: r...@ico.isc.com (Dick Dunn)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: compress patented (and POSIX)
Summary: still, why?
Message-ID: <1990Aug7.005329.21643@ico.isc.com>
Date: 7 Aug 90 00:53:29 GMT
References: <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> <31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> 
<1990Aug4.212431.28490@zoo.toronto.edu>
Organization: Interactive Systems Corporation, Boulder, CO
Lines: 41
Posted: Tue Aug  7 01:53:29 1990

he...@zoo.toronto.edu (Henry Spencer) writes:
> [I wrote]
> >OK, so why can't it be done again?
["it" being the possibly-incorrectly-related story of the release of the
setuid patent...]
> >...I've seen the statements attributed to
> >the POSIX committee on the matter of compress, and I don't understand why
> >they don't quite care.  ("Reasonable terms" is quite different from
> >"released"...and anyway, who defines what's "reasonable"?)  Why should a
> >standard contain a requirement for a piece of patented technology?

And here I should have said something like "if it need not" or "if one can
negotiate around it..."

> Because the patented technology does the job better than anything else.

Possibly so...at least, for what we've got available right now.  However, I
might guess that if it had been generally known to be patented, it (a)
might not be the only common approach and (b) there might be an unpatented
compression algorithm.

> In case you haven't noticed, Ethernet is patented too, and that didn't
> stop IEEE from standardizing it.

True, but that's not entirely relevant to what I was asking; it's also a
bit of an apples/oranges comparison.

I was trying to get at the point of why it needed to be included.  Sure, if
a patented technology is all you've got, go with it...but I'd think there
are reasons which argue for looking around a fair bit to see if you can get
a non-patented technology.

Ethernet differs in a couple of ways.  First, it's the bulk of one par-
ticular standard; it's not one little corner.  Compress is bothersome
because I'm thinking ahead to having a standard with dozens of these little
corners that have to be licensed in order to conform to an overall
standard.  Second, Ethernet has alternatives; it's one way to meet one
level of networking.
-- 
Dick Dunn     r...@ico.isc.com -or- ico!rcd       Boulder, CO   (303)449-2870
   ...Are you making this up as you go along?

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!wuarchive!zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!usc!
apple!olivea!oliveb!tymix!cirrusl!sunstorm!dhesi
From: dhesi%cirr...@oliveb.ATC.olivetti.com (Rahul Dhesi)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <2195@cirrusl.UUCP>
Date: 10 Aug 90 18:54:49 GMT
References: <1990Jul27.183116.29756@iwarp.intel.com> <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> 
<31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> <1990Jul28.061540.25261@looking.on.ca> 
<2132@cirrusl.UUCP> <1990Aug04.081316.25754@looking.on.ca>
Sender: n...@cirrusl.UUCP
Organization: Cirrus Logic Inc.
Lines: 6
Posted: Fri Aug 10 19:54:49 1990

It's a time-honored tradition in the research world that information
published in a professional journal, unless otherwise clearly stated,
is intended to be freely used by all.
--
Rahul Dhesi <dhesi%cirr...@oliveb.ATC.olivetti.com>
UUCP:  oliveb!cirrusl!dhesi

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!aplcen!uakari.primate.wisc.edu!
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utgpu!utzoo!henry
From: he...@zoo.toronto.edu (Henry Spencer)
Newsgroups: news.admin
Subject: Re: [from comp.emacs: Imagine if you couldn't use compress any more]
Message-ID: <1990Aug11.034912.12077@zoo.toronto.edu>
Date: 11 Aug 90 03:49:12 GMT
References: <1990Jul27.183116.29756@iwarp.intel.com> <a5LZm2w162w@cybrspc> 
<31666@eerie.acsu.Buffalo.EDU> <1990Jul28.061540.25261@looking.on.ca> 
<2132@cirrusl.UUCP> <1990Aug04.081316.25754@looking.on.ca> <2195@cirrusl.UUCP>
Organization: U of Toronto Zoology
Lines: 19
Posted: Sat Aug 11 04:49:12 1990

In article <2...@cirrusl.UUCP> dhesi%cirr...@oliveb.ATC.olivetti.com (Rahul Dhesi) 
writes:
>It's a time-honored tradition in the research world that information
>published in a professional journal, unless otherwise clearly stated,
>is intended to be freely used by all.

Which research world?  In software, yes -- because until very recently,
there has been no way of doing otherwise -- but in other research fields,
it is not unusual to publish something that is being patented without
making a big fuss about the imminent patent.  This is the case even in
computer hardware; the original Ethernet paper makes no mention of the
then-pending patent application.  One simply does not assume that other
people's ideas are free for commercial exploitation without checking
into the details first.

The *software* research world has some painful learning experiences
ahead, but there is no such "tradition" in the research world as a whole.
-- 
It is not possible to both understand  | Henry Spencer at U of Toronto Zoology
and appreciate Intel CPUs. -D.Wolfskill|  he...@zoo.toronto.edu   utzoo!henry

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