From: g...@adagio.UUCP (Greg Lehey)
Subject: AT&T and BSDI -- yet again
Keywords: lawsuit, AT&T, USL, BSDI, new developments
Date: 29 Jul 92 18:29:38 GMT
Organization: LEMIS, W-6324 Feldatal, Germany
I had a phone call from Mitch Wagner of Open Systems Today today, and
he tells me that USL has extended the lawsuit - apparently, UCB is now
included, and there are specific complaints. I didn't get many
details, but they will presumably fill out as time goes on.
Mitch feels that USL is not fighting dirty - in his opinion, they are
genuinely convinced that BSDI is abusing their intellectual property,
that they have worked long and hard to produce an operating system and
that BSDI has now come and is trying to reap the fruits of their
labour in the commercial marketplace.
I should make it clear - as I did to Mitch - that I don't completely
share this viewpoint. I do agree that they probably are not
consciously playing dirty. However, I don't think that USL can have
any unified view of what is theirs and what they got from BSD - how
can they claim to have worked long and hard on an operating system
when significant parts of their own system were written by non-AT&T
employees, including significant contributions by the current
development staff of BSDI?
Now for the real reason for this posting
1: if USL are going to prove that BSDI have abused their intellectual
property, and the source code shows similarities, who is going to
prove where this source came from? As another example of genuine AT&T
code (from System V.3, I am told on good authority), consider:
* Copyright (c) 1982, 1986 Regents of the University of California.
* All rights reserved. The Berkeley software License Agreement
* specifies the terms and conditions for redistribution.
This is an extreme example, of course, but how can AT&T claim
ownership of any source file of theirs which carries such a
2: How much is any residual AT&T code worth? Assuming UCB or BSDI is
found to have used residual AT&T code, might it not really be an
alternative to license it for an appropriate fee (about $0.02 per
3: How much of UNIX is based on original ideas anyway? I was rummaging
in my old documentation (7th edition and earlier) a while back, and
found (page 1928 of the Bell System Technical Journal, July/August
1978), the following conclusion to Ritchie and Thompson's article
on the UNIX Time-Sharing System:
The success of UNIX lies not so much in new inventions but rather
in the full exploitation of a carefully selected set of fertile
The fork operation, essentially as we implemented it, was present
in the GENIE time-sharing system [my note: somewhere I seem to
remember that GENIE was developed at UCB, but I can't find any
reference. Does anybody out there remember?]. On a number of
points we were influenced by Multics... The notion that the shell
should create a process for each command was also suggested to us
by the early design of Multics... A similar scheme is used by
On the next page, we read:
"The contributors to UNIX are, in the traditional but here
especially apposite phrase, too numerous to mention. Certainly,
collective salutes are due to our colleagues in the Computing
Science Research Center. ...."
In general, I can't see that USL can show that what is left of
their 13-year-old 32V/7th edition code is worth the tape it was
written on any more. Does anybody else care to comment?
BTW, I haven't sent this to the alt. newsgroup suggested a while back:
it hasn't made it to Germany, and it doesn't seem to offer the same
coverage. Flame me if you want, I can take it.
Greg Lehey | Tel: +49-6637-1488
LEMIS | Fax: +49-6637-1489
Schellnhausen 2, W-6324 Feldatal, Germany
*** NOTE ***: Headers are mangled - reply to grog%le...@Germany.EU.net
From: wag...@utoday.com (Mitch Wagner)
Subject: Re: AT&T and BSDI -- yet again
Organization: Open Systems Today
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 92 16:43:47 GMT
Keywords: lawsuit, AT&T, USL, BSDI, new developments
In article <1...@adagio.UUCP> g...@adagio.UUCP (Greg Lehey) writes:
#I had a phone call from Mitch Wagner of Open Systems Today today....
#Mitch feels that USL is not fighting dirty - in his opinion, they are
#genuinely convinced that BSDI is abusing their intellectual property,
#that they have worked long and hard to produce an operating system and
#that BSDI has now come and is trying to reap the fruits of their
#labour in the commercial marketplace.
#I should make it clear - as I did to Mitch - that I don't completely
#share this viewpoint. I do agree that they probably are not
#consciously playing dirty. However, I don't think that USL can have
#any unified view of what is theirs and what they got from BSD ...
I'm sure that Greg is reporting accurately what I said. But it doesn't
precisely capture what I meant to say. (This is why I made the
decision to go into print rather than broadcast journalism many years
ago; I can put my views down in writing with great clarity, but I
often find it difficult to SAY exactly what I mean.)
Basically, I agree with everything that Greg says in the first graf,
except for the stuff before the dash. I think he's accurately conveyed
my understanding of USL's position. I *DON'T* think the folks at USL
are saying "the heck with morality, we have to step on these folks at
BSDI." I *DO* think the folks at USL sincerely believe their
intellectual property rights to have been infringed on.
However, now that we've established that both USL and BSDI believe
themselves to be acting from good and just motives, comes the question
of who is actually in the right. And the answer is, as of now: I don't
And whatever my own personal views on this may be, I'm going to do my
damnedest to make sure my reporting---the words under my byline in
OPEN SYSTEMS TODAY---is fair, accurate and unbiased, because that's my job.
Mitch Wagner, senior editor, Open Systems Today
2353 Massachusetts Ave. Suite 47, Cambridge, MA 02140
wag...@utoday.com CIS:70212,51 GEnie:MITCH.WAGNER
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