|                                                     |
	    |                PROGRAMMING FREEDOM                  |
	    |                                                     |
	    |        August 1992  -==-  Volume I  Number 5        |
	    |                                                     |
	    |           The Electronic Newsletter of              |
	    |        The League for Programming Freedom           |
	    | 1 Kendall Sq #143, POBox #9171, Cambridge MA 02139  |
	    |              league@prep.ai.mit.edu                 |
	    |  Editor: Spike R. MacPhee (spiker@prep.ai.mit.edu)  |
	    |Assistant Editor: Andy Oram (oram@hicomb.hi.com)     |
	    |     Reproduction of Programming Freedom via all     |
	    |            electronic media is encouraged.          |
	    |     To reproduce a signed article individually,     |
	    |       please contact the author for permission.     |

		     <><><><><> TABLE OF CONTENTS <><><><><>
	    Heckel - Gabriel debate report by Richard P. Gabriel
		   News: IBM and Microsoft cross-license
	  Apple and Quorum patents - by Richard M. Stallman (rms)
	     Status of the LPF Apple boycott - Chris Hofstader
	LPF position on latest in Apple vs. Microsoft/HP case - rms
	  LPF publicity: Cons, media mentions, & volunteer efforts
      LPF's position on ATT/BSDI suit - by LPF Pres. Jack Larsen & rms
	       LPF News:  voicemail still down, due back soon
      LPF bibliography and on-line index continues - by Michael Ernst
	   Another way to publicize the LPF -  by Frank P. Bresz
		LPF email lists - who and what they are for
	   Viewpoint: Software Patents - Boom or Bane? -  by rms
	     LPF Boutique: Materials Available from the League


		    <><><>Heckel - Gabriel debate<><><>
	      - by rpg%inferno@lucid.com (Richard P. Gabriel)

   The publicity flyer for my debate with Heckel read:

   "Special Interest Group on Freedom, Privacy and Technology: A public
   forum co-sponsored by BMUG and CPSR/Berkeley, May 31.

   Software patent proponent Paul Heckel goes head to head with Dr.
   Richard P. Gabriel, of the League for Programming Freedom to discuss
   the realities of software patents...

   Paul Heckel, author of the book "The Elements of Friendly Software
   Design" (Sybex books, second edition, 1991) and owner of HyperRacks,
   Inc., pioneered the card and stack computer metaphor. He developed
   Zoomracks, which is recognized as a predecessor to HyperCard by Apple
   Computer (among others), who licensed his patents.

   Dr. Richard P. Gabriel is Chief Technical Officer and principal
   founder of Lucid, Inc, a Unix software company specializing in object
   technology. He is a regular columnist for AI Expert. His research
   accomplishments include the first high-performance supercomputer Lisp
   system, the definition of the Common Lisp language, the Gabriel
   Benchmarks for measuring Lisp system performance, the design and
   implementation of Qlisp (the first compiler-based parallel Lisp
   implementation), assisted with the definition of the Common Lisp
   Object System (CLOS), and the architecture of Lucid's integrated
   programming environment."

   I felt that he self-destructed again, and basically the whole crowd
   (only 20 people) ended up attacking him. He had two questions he
   couldn't respond to, neither of which I had heard before (I'll present
   the second as a statement, but it was in the form of a question at the

       1. what program, system, or technique did we get that we wouldn't
	  have got without patents?

       2. In other areas, the cost of patents is in the cost of parts.
	  So, when I build a computer, I buy a chip and the cost of the
	  licensed patent is included. If I use a lot of chips, then the
	  patent's value is accurately reflected by the cost to me,
	  and if the computer sells well, the added revenue (cost)
	  accurately reflects the value of the patent.
	  This can't happen with software, because if I use a patented 
	  technique for a small purpose and the patent-holder charges a
	  percentage royalty, I get screwed because the cost of the
	  patent to me is inaccurate with regard to its cost. And if the
	  patent-holder charges a fixed price and I sell a lot of
	  product with the patent, the value of the patent to the
	  product with regard to its cost is inaccurate. This is a direct
	  result of software patents being about ideas and not about

   I would say the result of the debate is that Heckel's wild arguments
   convinced the audience that the entire patent system should be

	     <><><>News: IBM and Microsoft cross-license<><><>

   IBM and Microsoft have completed negotiations on royalties for OS/2;
   IBM will pay Microsoft some amount under $30/copy.  But during the
   negotiations, IBM threatened to hit Microsoft with patent suits on a
   thousand software patents.  They ended up cross-licensing all their
   patents, but because IBM had more patents, Microsoft paid between $20M
   and $30M as part of the deal.

   <><><>Apple and Quorum patents - by Richard M. Stallman (rms)<><><>

   The Macintosh system uses a simple compressed representation for
   regions (two-dimensional shapes).  Fundamentally, a region is
   represented by a bitmap; the compression technique consists of
   run-length encoding first in the x-direction and then in the
   y-direction.  It is possible to do boolean operations on compressed
   regions operating directly on the compressed form; this is faster than
   generating the full bitmap.

   This representation is patented by Apple; the patent number is

   The result is to cause a problem for any Macintosh-compatible system.
   Applications contain actual regions represented in this format, and
   any method of executing the application correctly must infringe the

   So what have emulator-writers done?  One company, Quorum, decided to
   handle stored regions in applications only approximately; they expand
   the region to a rectangle, ignoring its detailed shape.  This seems to
   work well enough in practice--apparently most applications make little
   use of saved constant regions.

   But this approximation method brings a vulnerability: Apple can
   develop applications that explicitly refuse to work if the system
   handles regions approximately.  If important applications don't work
   at all, the emulator will be useless.  Apple could even pressure other
   developers into doing this.  Apple is known for placing obnoxious
   restrictions on its approved developers, and this particular
   imposition would not be out of character.

   Meanwhile, Quorum uses another representation for regions, and another
   method for doing boolean operations.  And Quorum is patenting this
   technique.  Yesterday's underdog has become tomorrow's bully.

   Because Quorum is a small company, it may respond to public
   disapproval.  Two years ago a few LPF members convinced Solbourne to
   back down on an interface copyright claim.  We may be able to convince
   Quorum to back down if we give them a response that is surprisingly

   So please write letters to the president of Quorum, deploring this
   patent and saying that if they sink to Apple's level then you will say
   the same bad things about them that you do about Apple.

       Sheldon Breiner, President
       Quorum Software Systems, Inc.
       4700 Bohannon Drive, Suite 125
       Menlo Park, CA  94025

   Urge Quorum to give the patent to the public, or to adopt a
   non-aggression policy for it.  (A non-aggression policy means they
   won't use the patent against you unless you use patents against them.)

   Send a copy of your letter to a magazine that Quorum might advertise
   in, and mark this fact on the letter.


    <><>Status of the LPF Apple boycott - by Christian D. Hofstader<><>

       One of our members asked: Now that Apple is no longer pursuing a
       look-and-feel lawsuit, is the boycott over?
	- David J. Camp (campfire!david@wupost.wustl.edu)

   I am not certain that Apple is no longer pursuing lnf suits.  All that
   I've heard is that a judge has thrown most of their case out.  We will
   drop our boycott when and if Apple announces publicly that they will
   no longer use such tactics in the future.  If this has already
   happened I have not heard about it.

	     - cdh@prep.ai.mit.edu, LPF Secretary and Director


    <><>LPF position on latest in Apple vs. Microsoft/HP case - rms<><>

   Recently, Judge Walker threw out most of Apple's complaints against
   Microsoft and HP.  He cited concerns about overbroad monopoly as part
   of the reason.

   This is definitely a step in the right direction, and a win for
   programmers' freedom, but it does not completely eliminate the danger
   from Apple--for several reasons:

   * Not all of the lawsuit has been thrown out.  A few of Apple's claims
   still remain to be decided.

   * Part of the reason most claims were rejected was that Microsoft had
   signed a contract with Apple, years ago.  In fact, the judge did not
   decide for certain that the features in Apple's list were
   uncopyrightable; he said that *either* they are uncopyrightable *or*
   Microsoft's license covers them.  Only another trial will tell us
   which one it is!

   Thus, if Apple were to sue someone else in the exact same way--someone
   who did not sign such a license with them years ago--it is not clear
   that the outcome would be the same.

   * Apple may appeal the decision; we cannot regard any of it as final.


      <><>LPF publicity: Cons, media mentions, & volunteer efforts<><>

      Send in any LPF mentions or volunteer efforts and we'll list it.

   May 31	Berkeley  Richard P. Garbriel debates Paul Heckel
	   Report by Gabriel in this issue.
   June 1 Computerworld Viewpoint column by rms (reprinted here).

   karl@cs.umb.edu (Karl Berry) reports:

   "Here's a small (tiny) thing I did.  I got a typical questionnaire
   from Dartmouth, my alma mater, asking their alumni about directions
   for the future.  I suggested they support the LPF's boycott of Apple,
   and join the LPF as an institutional member.  (Since Dartmouth
   essentially requires each student buy a PC or Mac, and many buy Macs,
   their supporting the boycott might actually make Apple pay attention.)
   I also sent them the LPF position papers."


    <>LPF's position on ATT/BSDI suit - by LPF Pres Jack Larsen & rms<>

   People have asked why the LPF hasn't said anything about the lawsuit
   by USL (a subsidiary of AT&T) against the University of California at
   Berkeley and against BSDI.

   The reason is because we don't yet know whether this lawsuit falls
   within the scope of concern of the LPF.  This is because the USL
   allegations are vague.  The crucial claim is that

	  27. This statement is likewise materially false and misleading 
       in that, to the extent the BSDI "LICENSED PROGRAM" is (as BSDI 
       claims) based upon Berkeley's Networking Release 2, it is in fact 
       based upon, copied from or derived from AT&T's code, such that 
       users of the BSDI program require a license from AT&T or its 
       successor, USL. 

   and it is not clear what sort of illegality is charged.

   This could be an allegation that actual code was copied, in which case
   the issue is not one of concern to the LPF.  The LPF stands for the
   freedom to write software, but it is not opposed to owning individual
   programs that one has written, and this includes USL.

   On the other hand, perhaps an interface copyright claim is lurking
   within "otherwise derived".  Or USL could interpret it this way if
   other interpretations prove unfavorable.  This would bring the case
   directly within the LPF's area of concern.

   However, the case may fall into the area of programming freedom in a
   wider sense, as an example of using the power of money to harass.  For
   several reasons, the actions of USL would be an abuse even if the
   allegation were true:

       NET2 is a collection of many different programs and parts of
       programs written by different people and institutions.  While
       they work together, they are unrelated as regards authorship.  To
       charge that NET2 as a single entity infringes some (unspecified)
       right is like pointing at a bookstore and saying that its entire
       contents are illegal because of unidentified books.

       USL has not even specified what sort of illegality they allege;
       they want BSDI to be judged as vaguely in the wrong, disregarding
       what sort of copying and distribution the law permits.

       USL originally sued BSDI, alleging misconduct by UCB, not by
       BSDI.  At the time, UCB had received no word of complaint from
       USL about the releases of free software, which had begun in 1988.
       The release of NET2 took place about a year before the lawsuit
       against BSDI.

       UCB made assiduous efforts to avoid including any AT&T code in
       the NET2 release, and this included several attempts over a
       period of years to ask USL whether they regarded certain programs
       as in any way violating their copyrights or trade secrets.  USL
       refused to answer.

       USL has sued the lawyers of BSDI and UCB, merely for raising
       objections to the questions that USL wanted Mike Karels to

   Perhaps these issues should be a matter of concern to the LPF, even
   though the legality of copying code is not one.  However, the problems
   of our legal system exposed here have nothing specifically to do with
   software; the ability of the wealthy to deny others their legal rights
   is a general phenomenon.

   Also, the main focus of the LPF is on changing the legal system for
   software, not on individual cases, and it is not clear what change in
   the system we should advocate to solve these problems.  This case does
   not suggest a need for changes in copyright or trade secret law for
   software because the defendants will probably win under existing
   law--provided they can manage to last until the case is decided.


       <><><>LPF News:  voicemail still down, due back soon<><><>

   Our voicemail number is temporarily down.  The voicemail subcontractor
   to our snailmail mailbox company abruptly went bankrupt; we are
   attempting to recover the number from them and provide more reliable
   service to you without obsoleting our stocks of LPF materials with the
   voicemail number on them.

   Chris Hofstader adds: "...I finally heard from ... Dictronics ...  who
   purchased MessageNet.  Previously MessageNet purchased VoiceTek.  I,
   with the cooperative and patient assistance of Bill at Mail Boxes
   Etc., have spent much of the summer chasing corporate ownership of our
   phone number.  We finally found a person with the authority to release
   the number to us.

   NETel is setting up a system for us that will at first forward our
   calls to a different rented number.  We will in the coming weeks
   purchase an answering system and put it in a stable home with a very
   inexpensive "incoming" only line attached.

   This problem is finally solved...  Bankruptcy and
   corporate takeovers are a complete hassle to trace through."

   The number was and will be 617-243-4091.  It is a voice-mail phone, so
   please leave your name and phone number or address, and your question
   or request, and our person will get back to you.

   <><>LPF bibliography & on-line index continues - by Michael Ernst<><>

   [Two people have since volunteered to maintain this important
   resource.  I included all of Mike's description to show how much work
   he has done on the index for the LPF.  We thank you for your efforts,

   For the past few year and a half I have been maintaining two files for
   the League for Programming Freedom: a partial list of software patents
   and an online index to the League's hardcopy files.  Other commitments
   (and the possibility that I will soon leave the Boston area) force me
   to delegate these tasks to someone else, and I am looking for
   volunteers to take over responsibility for one or both of the files.
   (One person doesn't necessarily have to manage both of them.)

   I spend several hours every month going through new acquisitions which
   are placed in a file in 545 Technology Square (the FSF headquarters),
   deciding in which physical file folder to store them, and indexing
   them electronically.  When I come across references to, or articles
   about, software patents or user interface copyrights, I place them in
   the electronic index as well and hunt them down if it's convenient.  I
   often read or skim articles and patents so that I can provide a precis
   along with information about the title, author, and date of
   publication; this makes the index much more useful.  When I update the
   files, I send diffs of the changes to a set of interested people.

   I hope that someone will be willing to take over this responsibility,
   for at least two reasons.  First, it is essential to keeping the
   League's extensive set of hardcopy files in order; without some
   organization and an index, they would be nearly useless (as they were
   before I started).  Second, I would hate to see my significant
   investment of time go to waste if the present organization was allowed
   to fall before entropy.

   If you'd like to look at the files, either to use them or because you
   are interested in possibly taking them over, you can find them for
   anonymous ftp in the directory mintaka.lcs.mit.edu:/mitlpf/ai, files
   index and patent-list.
					   -Michael Ernst


	 <><>Another way to publicize the LPF -  Frank P. Bresz<><>

	   WOW what a response.... using a question instead of
      just a signature works far better for recruiting purposes.  I have
      had this signature : 

   Frank P. Bresz  |PCD Simulators Department, Westinghouse Electric Corporation
   fpb@ittc.wec.com|My opinions are mine, WEC pays big money for official opinions
   uunet!ittc!fpb  |Member: League for Programming Freedom (LPF) | STOP Software |
   +1 412 733 6749 |For more information on the 'LPF' send mail  |  Patents Now  |

      For about a month (perhaps longer).  In the past week I have
      started (as suggested in the 'recruiting' document) just posing the
      question to mail contacts from usenet and the like.  I take the
      time to remove my affiliation so as to not 'lead' the person into
       anything they might not want to say/think.

      I have already received 2 or 3 responses and at least 1 'Yep, looks
      like I better join', after sending the papers.

      Just thought I would let the folks know that it really works and it
      is worth the few minutes it takes to do it.

   [the signature publicity is also expanding; we now get 10 to 20
   requests for info in a week stating that they "saw us in a .sig." -


	  <><><>LPF email lists - who and what they are for<><><>

   These lists are for LPF members only, although you may, of course,
   redistribute postings to your friends in the hopes of getting them to
   actively support the LPF by joining.

   This moderated mailing list:

   and its two sub-lists:
   and    league-activists-remote@prep.ai.mit.edu should be used only

   for members' requests for assistance in league projects, local or
   nationally, or for announcements from LPF.

   These lists are filtered by a moderator to:
	  - insure this use;
	  - minimize the number of messages;
	  - remove items meant for the list's -request address;
	  - forward items that should have been sent to another list.

   There may be a delay of up to 3 days for your message to be sent on
   L-act, so plan ahead for volunteer requests.

   League-tactics@prep.ai.mit.edu is for discussion of LPF directions and
   is not moderated.

   If you want to subscribe, change your eddress (email address), or be
   removed from either list, please use:

   or      league-tactics-request@prep.ai.mit.edu


	   Viewpoint: Software Patents - Boom or Bane? -  by rms
	      (Appeared in June 1, 1992 Computerworld, p. 33)

   If you develop software, or even if you use software, software patents
   are a threat to your work.

   Patents in software provide little benefit to society: past experience
   shows that many new algorithms were published and many new features
   tried out, in the absence of patents.  The burden they impose is
   immense: every design decision now carries the risk of being sued for
   infringing a patent; most new techniques and features are off-limits
   for seventeen years.  As Bank of America has learned, even the users
   of popular software packages can be sued.

   When people first learn about the problem of software patents, their
   attention is often drawn to the absurd patents that cover techniques
   already widely known---such as ``natural order recalculation'' in

   Focusing on these examples can lead some people to ignore the rest of
   the problem.  They are attracted to the position that the patent
   system is basically correct and needs only ``reforms'' to carry out
   its own rules properly.  For example, they propose a data base of
   prior art for patent examiners to study.  But how much good would this
   do?  Let's consider an example.

   In April 1991, software developer Ross Williams began publishing a
   series of data compression programs using new algorithms of his own
   devising.  Their superior speed and compression quality soon attracted

   The following September, use of these programs in the United States
   was halted by a newly issued patent, number 5,049,881.  Dean Gibson
   and Mark Graybill had applied for the patent on June 18, 1990.

   Under the current patent rules, the validity of the patent depends on
   whether there is ``prior art'': whether the basic idea was published
   before that date in 1990.  Williams's publication in April 1991 came
   after that date, so it does not count.

   Ghiora Drori, a student at the University of San Francisco, described
   a similar algorithm in 1988/9 in a class paper, but it was not
   published.  This doesn't count either.

   Reforms to make the patent system work ``properly'' would be no help
   here---because the patent would still exist.  There is no prior art
   for it.  It is not close to obvious, as the patent system interprets
   the term.  (Like most patents, it is neither revolutionary nor
   trivial, but somewhere in between.)  The fault is in the rules
   themselves, not their execution.

   Between this and other data compression patents, it is now difficult
   to design any high-quality compression program that is unambiguously
   lawful---because it is not easy to tell just how far a given patent

   In the US legal system, patents are intended as a bargain between
   society and individuals; society is supposed to gain through the
   disclosure of techniques that would otherwise never be available.  It
   is clear that society has gained nothing by issuing patent number

   Under current rules, our ability to use Williams's programs depends on
   whether anyone happened to publish the same idea before April 1991.
   More fundamentally, it depends on when various people happened to have
   this idea.  That is to say, it depends on luck.  This system is good
   for promoting the practice of law rather than that of software.

   Teaching the Patent Office to look at more of the existing prior art
   might prevent some outrageous mistakes.  It will not cure the greater
   problem, which is the patenting of every @emph{new} wrinkle in the
   use of computers, like the one that Williams and others independently

   This will turn software into a quagmire.  Even an innovative program
   will use dozens of known techniques and features, and each is likely
   to be off limits if it is less than two decades old.  Our ability to
   use each wrinkle will depend on luck, and if we are unlucky half the
   time, few programs will escape infringing a large number of patents.
   Navigating the maze of patents will be harder than writing software.
   As @cite{The Economist} says, software patents are simply bad for

   A reform substantial enough to solve this problem would have to
   eliminate nearly all software patents.  Since the problem is grave, we
   should not wait to decide which handful do benefit society, if any.
   We should abolish them all without delay, and leave the tuning for

      <><><> LPF Boutique: Materials Available from the League <><><>

       Please send your order to the League address on the first page We
   don't take credit cards yet, but are working on this with our bank.
   We do take Traveler's Checks.
	We have reprinted the famous ``fanged apple'' buttons.  These
   buttons show the symbol of Apple computer with an alien snake's body
   and face.  You can buy buttons by mail from the League, for $2 each,
   in quantities of at least three.  We give out buttons at events, but
   ask for a donation.
	We also have stickers showing Liberty Empowering the Programmer,
   with the League's name and address.  You can order stickers by mail
   from the League at $5 for 10 stickers; for larger orders, phone us to
   discuss a price.  We hand them out free when it is convenient, such as
   at our events, but since mailing packages to individuals costs money,
   we want to make it an opportunity to raise funds.
	Post stickers at eye level and separated from other posted
   articles, to make them easy to see.  The stickers are not made to
   survive rain.
			     Liberty Postcards
	We also have postcards showing Liberty Empowering the Programmer,
   with the League's name and address.  Same terms as the stickers.
			   Large Liberty Posters
	We have a few posters with the same image that is on the
   stickers, approximately 2.5 ft by 1.5 ft.  They are $4 each and $4
   total shipping and handling in the US for the first one to five
   posters, and $2 for each additional five.
				Coffee Mugs
	Our coffee mugs have the Fanged Apple design in full color on one
   side and ``League for Programming Freedom'' on the other.  They hold
   twelve ounces and are microwave safe.  You can order a mug for $15,
   nonmembers $17, plus $3.00 shipping and handling.  They are now in
   stock.  Note the price increase.
	Michael Ernst has produced t-shirts with Liberty and ``League for
   Programming Freedom'' on the front and ``Innovate, Don't Litigate'' on
   the back.  (The back slogan will change from time to time.)  You can
   order shirts by mail from the League for $10, nonmembers $12, plus $2
   for shipping and handling.  Available colors are yellow, blue and
   peach (ecru); if you specify a color, we will assume you would rather
   have another color than no shirt.  If you want a chosen color or
   nothing, say so explicitly.  Please specify the shirt size!  (M, L or
   XL.)  We are sold out of XL shirts, but will be making more new shirts
   with the next version of the back slogan by the end of Sept.
		      Position Papers and Memberships
	We will send anyone a copy of the League position papers.  If you
   want other copies to hand out at an event, we'll send you as many as
   you need.  Please discuss your plans with us.  One-year memberships
   are $42 for professionals, $10.50 for students, and $21 for others.
   The dues are $100 for an institution with up to three employees, $250
   for an institution with four to nine employees, and $500 for an
   institution with ten or more employees. For $5000, an institution can
   be a sponsor rather than a member.  We have 10 inst. members, now.
			    League Papers Online
   You can retrieve LPF written materials in Tekinfo format by anonymous
   ftp from prep.ai.mit.edu in the directory /pub/lpf.  These include the
   position papers, membership form, handouts, friends of the court
   briefs, and articles about the LPF's issues of concern. In addition to
   the above, Joe Wells has PostScript, DVI, plain text, and Info format
   versions of the papers "Against User Interface Copyright"
   (look-and-feel) and "Against Software Patents" (patents) available for
   FTP from this location: cs.bu.edu:pub/jbw/lpf/ 
			   League Video Cassettes 
   We have video tapes of some of Richard Stallman's speeches for the
   LPF.  If you'd like to give LPF speeches, we can send you copies of
   these tapes to give you an example to learn from.  If you'd like
   copies for another purpose, we can send them for $20 each.  They will
   be available in Oct.  <><><>

	  <><><> End of August 1992 Programming Freedom <><><>


      League for Programming Freedom
      1 Kendall Square #143
      P.O.Box 9171
      Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

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