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Code of uncertain origin

Code of uncertain origin

Posted Aug 10, 2006 2:57 UTC (Thu) by jsarets (guest, #39560)
Parent article: Code of uncertain origin

I'm not an expert kernel hacker, but from briefly scanning the patches, I see plenty of evidence that the firmware interfaces was reverse engineered, and no evidence that the code was based on proprietary code. The coding style is distinctively that of a long-time Linux kernel hacker. The pseudonym might cloud the issue, but the code certainly looks pure to me.

If the RIAA can go after an name-less IP address, can the kernel community hold a name-less email address accountable? We can archive the email wherein the contributor swore that the code was legit, and if we ever need to track him down, perhaps Google could help us resolve that GMail account?

Better yet, Lenovo wants to put Linux on Thinkpads these days, so why don't we take this issue to them? If we can get their permission to merge the code, I can't imagine we have anything to worry about. They might even offer to help maintain it!

The problem with these issues is that the kernel developers aren't lawyers. They shouldn't be the ones making these decisions. This is where the OSDL should be more involved in the process, so that the kernel developers can focus on the technical merit of the patches.


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Code of uncertain origin

Posted Aug 10, 2006 5:11 UTC (Thu) by sitaram (guest, #5959) [Link]

> perhaps Google could help us resolve that GMail account?

I'm sorry, but I honestly doubt if that is possible. Absolutely no personal information of any kind required to obtain an account. The invitation scheme also does not require me to know you to invite you -- this isn't like the "web of trust" model :-) Apart from the IP address used to post, Google can't really tell you anything more.

Code of uncertain origin

Posted Aug 10, 2006 6:19 UTC (Thu) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

True. But Google can easily map a gmail-account to a set of ip-adresses and timestamps. It is then possible to figure out the names behind those ip-adresses as per the usual routes. Some of the time anyway.

People who want to avoid this are free to use Tor offcourse.

Code of uncertain origin

Posted Aug 10, 2006 16:41 UTC (Thu) by emkey (guest, #144) [Link]

There is also potentially a lot of information contained in messages received by a particular mail account. How long google keeps "deleted" messages around is anyones guess of course.

Code of uncertain origin

Posted Aug 12, 2006 9:47 UTC (Sat) by hingo (guest, #14792) [Link]

Oh my. I'm really shocked to see 4 LWN readers (I would have understood one, but anything more than two is shocking) sincerely debating this with the assumption that Google employees would obviously have no problems whatsoever to go and look in this persons mailbox and then reveal his identity on lkml. Surely, this must be some kind of joke I'm not getting?

Code of Uncertain Origin - Google's morals

Posted Aug 12, 2006 18:00 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Yeah, morality aside, I would expect Google to have serious enough fears of bad publicity from privacy advocates, not to mention legal liability, that pigs would fly before Google would do that.

So I figured we were probably talking about a subpoena situation.

While I doubt Google maintains enough information to comply with such a subpoena, I'm not at all surprised that lots of LWN readers think it secretly does. People suspicious of big organizations seem to be very well represented here.

Code of Uncertain Origin - Google's morals

Posted Aug 12, 2006 19:37 UTC (Sat) by hingo (guest, #14792) [Link]

Paranoid people yes, but I got the impression these people were thinking it would actually be a good idea. I was kind of reacting to it in a "are you even worthy of being here" kind of way. On the other hand, LWN is certainly a good place for such people to be. And in any case, I probably misunderstood something from the very beginning.

Code of Uncertain Origin - Google's morals

Posted Aug 21, 2006 2:07 UTC (Mon) by Baylink (guest, #755) [Link]

I believe Pascal's Wager suggests that's the position to take.

Code of Uncertain Origin - Google's morals

Posted Aug 21, 2006 3:02 UTC (Mon) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Actually, Pascal's Wager suggests that it's something that should be believed, which is something different from just taking the position (i.e. assuming it's true). Pascal's Wager is bunk because of its assumption that belief is a matter of will.

But the expected value analysis at the heart of Pascal's Wager definitely applies, and probably makes it wise to assume the worst of Google, even while not actually believing it.

Code of uncertain origin

Posted Aug 16, 2006 22:21 UTC (Wed) by fergal (guest, #602) [Link]

Lets say that somehow, Google is forced by a court to reveal the IPs and this guy is tracked down. He turns out to have written this in some way that was totally illegal. Then what? That still leaves the entire Linux community in receipt of stolen goods. Best case scenario everyone distributing the code has to stop. That's an enormous mess even without taking into account boxed CDs of Linux distributions.

That's just the best case.

Code of uncertain origin

Posted Aug 17, 2006 2:35 UTC (Thu) by Mithrandir (subscriber, #3031) [Link]

Except that code isn't "property", any more than Intellectual Property is "property".

Just a nit pick! :)

Code of uncertain origin

Posted Aug 17, 2006 17:28 UTC (Thu) by fergal (guest, #602) [Link]

Nit: I didn't use the word "property".

But even if I had, the basic point is the same. If you don't have permission to use it, you shouldn't depend on it. Good faith will only get you so far and will not get you very far if you knowingly put your faith in the modern day euivalent of some bloke in the darkest, smokiest corner of a dogy pub.


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