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The kernel and BitKeeper part ways

The kernel and BitKeeper part ways

Posted Apr 8, 2005 21:22 UTC (Fri) by Xman (guest, #10620)
In reply to: The kernel and BitKeeper part ways by daniel
Parent article: The kernel and BitKeeper part ways

You are trying to call reverse engineering a) immoral and b) illegal.

Please try not to put words into my mouth. You got this from a quote which didn't mention reverse engineering. Indeed, the implication of what I was saying (and which I've stated more explicitly in other comments on this thread) was that I had no problem with a developer reverse engineering BitKeeper if they didn't accept the license.

I did suggest that accepting a license in bad faith is fraud, and I guess that's where you got the immoral and illegal from. I'm guessing you are throwing in with those who feel anti-reverse engineering license clauses shouldn't be valid, which is how that got in to it. Check the case history. You'll find that reverse engineering is not legal when it involved the breach of an implicit or explicit agreement between the parties involved or if improper means such as deceit are used to obtain the secret. The legal debate is about whether EULA's should be enforceable (UCITA clarifies that they are, but it still needs to be tested more in court), but if you like the GPL, you don't want to go down that path.

Now, if the developer in question accepted the license in bad faith and lied when explicitly asked to comply with the license, then that very strongly qualifies as illegal, and I'd be okay with throwing in immoral. If they didn't, then they aren't the "bad apple" Larry is suggesting they are. If you think it is legal and moral, then it follows that someone who accepted the GPL in bad faith, and lied when explicitly asked to comply with the GPL is also acting legally and morally. I for one, can't abide by that, and I'd be shocked if I was alone on that.

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The kernel and BitKeeper part ways

Posted Apr 14, 2005 11:49 UTC (Thu) by forthy (guest, #1525) [Link]

I did suggest that accepting a license in bad faith is fraud, and I guess that's where you got the immoral and illegal from.

On the other hand, making a license which contains stuff that's not enforcible, is also immoral and illegal. That's why contracts that contain such stuff are not enforcible, and any good contract contains a clause that makes the contract valid even though (removing the "bad apples" in the contract).

Further note that when you get a legal copy of a software without contract/license, you still can legally use, reverse engineer, patch, and resell that software (given that you don't keep a copy - that's basic copyright stuff). If you obtain the software from the copyright holder, it is a "legal copy". That's why any EULA or other license absolutely should contain the phrase that no matter what rubbish there's written in it, the valid clauses still stay valid, because otherwise, the customer has a much better position.

In the end, I'm very happy that this BitKeeper stuff happend as it did. I didn't understand why Linus didn't use any source management at all for a long time (even though in the beginning, CVS would have been completely sufficient), and any free tool he had used long enough would have scaled into what he needs now. Now, we've just 10 years lost (for the first 5 years of Linux), and have to play fast catch-up. The result will probably be two or three free distributed source repository systems which are all capable to do more than we ordinary users ever want. And no one ever again will depend important free software work on a non-free software.

Note: I usually tell people about contract clauses I'm going to ignore (if there's a general "ignore the rubbish" clause), or that signing the contract is a waste of time (when there's not). In the latter case, my response to such a contract will be rather rude.

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