[MUD-Dev] Libs for 3D Client/Servers

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 5 22:01:28 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On Thursday July 05, 2001 21:33, J C Lawrence wrote:
> On Thu, 5 Jul 2001 18:17:42 -0400
> Travis Casey <efindel at earthlink.net> wrote:

>> Since the protocol is published under the GPL, any derivative
>> work of it will also have to be GPL.

> No.  This violates the basic rules on the legality of reverse
> engineering and clean room development.

According to the GPL itself, this is the case.  Of course, that part
of the GPL could be (and likely would be) overturned -- but in
theory, until and unless there's a successful legal challenge, this
is the case.

Note that what's a "derivative work" of the protocol is an
interesting question -- if I rewrite the document, that's obviously
a derivative work -- but is a program that uses the protocol?
*That* could be answered either way... most likely a court would
say, "no, it isn't", but intellectual property cases are being
decided in some strange ways these days... see below for more.

>> Your server is not a derivative work, since you wrote it before
>> writing the protocol -- the protocol definition was derived from
>> it, rather than the other way around.  If anyone tries to make a
>> compatible server without using your GPL server, you can argue
>> that their server is required to be GPL anyways, since it is a
>> derivative work of the protocol.

> Per this logic StarOffice, AbiWord, etc are subject to Microsoft's
> licensing for Word due to the fact that they reverse engineered
> and implemented support for Word format files.  Intellectual
> property doesn't work that way (tho it gets close to being as
> stupid as that).

You'll notice that I said, "you can argue" -- I didn't say that
you'd necessarily be successful.  :-) This is the part that's
doubtful -- that a court would hold that a program using the
protocol was a derivative work of the protocol.  Under normal
circumstances, I'd say that idea would get laughed out of court.
These days, though, I'm not so sure any more.

And I'll note that if certain elements of the software industry get
their way, and some of the nastier provisions of UCITA become law,
then such tactics might become much more legally feasible.

>> Any resemblance between this plan and any business plan of Sun or
>> Microsoft is purely coincidental.  :-)

> Heh.  I assume you've noticed the new licenses on beta MS dev
> products:

>   http://www.kanga.nu/archives/Noted-L/2001Q2/msg00058.php

> Methinks I detect King Canute.

I was thinking more of the fact that Sun released a somewhat
"crippled" version of StarOffice under an open source license --
among other things, they removed a lot of the printer support.

       |\      _,,,---,,_     Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-' 
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