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Code of (still) uncertain origin

Code of (still) uncertain origin

Posted Aug 17, 2006 4:02 UTC (Thu) by shemminger (subscriber, #5739)
Parent article: Code of (still) uncertain origin

Sorry, the days of anonymous hackers are over. The Linux community is grown up now and the legal stuff is important. I still wonder why IBM would resist giving out specs?

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Code of (still) uncertain origin

Posted Aug 17, 2006 13:47 UTC (Thu) by pointwood (guest, #2814) [Link]

That is what I'm wondering about as well. IBM claims they are huge open source and especially Linux supporters, why can't they provide the specs for this? I don't see why it would be a huge asset to hide that information.

Code of (still) uncertain origin

Posted Aug 17, 2006 17:16 UTC (Thu) by JoeBuck (guest, #2330) [Link]

If the contributor reveals himself/herself to Linus, and Linus is satisfied that there isn't a legal problem, I see no reason why it couldn't go in.

However, Linus should find out the reason why the person wants to be anonymous, and if the reason is that the person's employer would object, this is a major red flag. In the US at least, many employment contracts pretty much give the employer ownership rights, or at least right of first refusal, on any code that the employee produces that is in any way work-relevant.

So it's not just a matter of trade secrets. The risk that an employer could take legal action against a free software project based on an employee contribution is why the FSF requires employer disclaimers for contributions to software that it owns.

But if the contributor is a self-employed person who can convince Linus that s/he didn't base the driver on stolen trade secrets, then the contribution should be allowed.

Code of (still) uncertain origin

Posted Aug 17, 2006 22:12 UTC (Thu) by jsarets (guest, #39560) [Link]

I think that the kernel community should reach out to IBM and/or Lenovo and ask them what they think of the code. Tell them we got this from an unknown contributor that has signed-off that the code was developed using legitimate procedures, but we want to double-check with them, just to make sure.

One can only speculate as to why Mr. "Multinymous" is operating under a pseudonym, but regardless, we can't mess this up. This could very well be a test or a malicious attempt to torpedo the kernel. If that's the case, we need to be sure that we exercised due diligence in verifying the legitimacy of the code.

The tricky thing with software patents is that it's not easy to tell whether you're infringing on someone's patent. There's only so much we can do, but engaging IBM/Lenovo in this matter is a good step. Does anyone disagree?

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