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LCA: The state of the Nouveau project

LCA: The state of the Nouveau project

Posted Jan 17, 2007 11:15 UTC (Wed) by johoho (subscriber, #2773)
Parent article: LCA: The state of the Nouveau project

this sounds like very interesting stuff.

However, I wonder if there's a risk that at some point in time NVidia - or a another copyright holder for that matter - might sue the project for using non-reverseengineered information. After all, it just *might* be possible that the information from the russian websites was obtained illegally.

let's hope the project will be able to proof that they wrote it by using only "real" reverse-engineering techniques.


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LCA: The state of the Nouveau project

Posted Jan 17, 2007 12:25 UTC (Wed) by ibukanov (subscriber, #3942) [Link]

In ancient Rome there was a law about a buyer who bought a stolen thing. The law stated that the buyer is innocent and can keep the thing if during the purchase he made reasonable efforts to check that the thing was obtained by legal means. Effectively the original owner can only sue the seller, not its customers.

This law survived pretty much through out the history. So if Nouveau team was made enough efforts that the information they use was obtained legally and does not include in the sources a code of unknown origin to avoid copyright violation allegations, then NVidea can not sue them and should go for the Russian web site operators instead.

This is, of cause, a theory, and courts especially in US may disagree, but even in SCO vs IBM case SCO tries to bring copyright charges against IBM, not the contract breach, so they can sue later the people who used IBM's code.

LCA: The state of the Nouveau project

Posted Jan 18, 2007 2:22 UTC (Thu) by DonDiego (guest, #24141) [Link]

Nowadays the law is different: You cannot aquire property of a stolen good. It remains the property of the original owner. You are free to sue the person that sold it to you for damages, though. This is valid at least for German law.

LCA: The state of the Nouveau project

Posted Jan 18, 2007 14:48 UTC (Thu) by ibukanov (subscriber, #3942) [Link]

Well, that rule AFAIK is applicable to contracts between business parties in most western countries. I.e. if one party while providing a service to its customers breaches the contract, then the other party can only sue the first party, not its customers.

But even with real stolen goods it would be interesting to know what police in Germany would do in the following case. Suppose a shop owner picked 20 identical TV sets, not 10 as stated in the contract, from distributor's warehouse. Then he sold all 20 TVs with normal marked prices before the theft was discovered. Will the law enforcement confiscate 10 TVs from people who bought? If so how they decide which ones?

Ownership of stolen property

Posted Jan 19, 2007 17:12 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

The law of who owns something after it gets stolen and eventually passed to an innocent buyer is just a matter of policy. Neither rule is more moral than the other; it's just a question of which rule reduces theft most efficiently. So it's likely to vary a lot between jurisdictions and over time.

But throughout modern times, English/American law has been that the theft victim remains the owner. There are various exceptions. One is where there is a recorded title, such as with a car or land.

The TV picking case is complicated and the answer depends on the exact facts of the case. It could be that there was no theft -- the TV shop took title to all 20 TVs and thus was able to pass it on to the consumers and the distributor has only the contract dispute. This would be similar to the case where the TV shop takes only the 10 TVs agreed upon, but then doesn't pay for them. Not a theft.

If the facts are such that the TVs were stolen, then the consumers do have to return them to the distributor. The police wouldn't confiscate them, because 1) it's not their job and 2) civil cases like this are normally resolved with money.

LCA: The state of the Nouveau project

Posted Jan 17, 2007 13:17 UTC (Wed) by sanjoy (subscriber, #5026) [Link]

Copyright covers the expression (e.g. the code), not the ideas (e.g. not the register information or algorithms). So even if trade secrets were obtained in dubious ways (who might themselves face civil or criminal penalties), others can use this information.

If the information in question were source code, then others have to be very careful to show that they did not look at the code, otherwise they risk copyright infringment suits, which can be ruinous even if you are totally in the clear.

Patents are also another story, but by definition their information is already made public in the patent filing, so it's not a question of how the information was obtained (but whether you can use it).

Usual disclaimers that I'm not a lawyer, so this for sure ain't legal advice.

LCA: The state of the Nouveau project

Posted Jan 17, 2007 14:35 UTC (Wed) by mattdm (subscriber, #18) [Link]

I'm not a lawyer either, but this actually doesn't work with trade secrets, which are a separate area of intellectual property law from copyright. If you know something was only available wrongly, you can't use it.

LCA: The state of the Nouveau project

Posted Jan 17, 2007 15:47 UTC (Wed) by emk (subscriber, #1128) [Link]

If you know something was only available wrongly, you can't use it.

Well, if you're responsible for the wrong-doing, then you're liable. But as far as I know, once the information becomes public, then the trade secret is pretty much moot, at least as far as innocent third-parties are concerned. (I'd check with a lawyer before acting on that assumption, though. And rules are presumably different in different jurisdictions.)

Trade non-secrets

Posted Jan 23, 2007 0:16 UTC (Tue) by Max.Hyre (guest, #1054) [Link]

Back in college (a few decades ago), I actually took a course in copyright, patent, trade secret, &c. (And, boy, do they have roughly nothing in common.)

The law said if you've been granted access to a trade secret under an NDA, you can be held accountable (like, sued), if you disclose said secret. The law, however, also recognized the impossibility of putting the toothpaste back in the tube—once the information is out, it isn't a secret, and can no longer be treated as such.

(So why would anyone use secrecy instead of patent? Because there's no time limit. So long as you can keep it secret, even beyond the twenty years allotted to patents, it's yours alone. That's why Coca-Cola hasn't patented its recipe.)

Nouveau copyright defense

Posted Jan 19, 2007 17:23 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Has there ever been a case where original code accidentally looked enough like other code that a court found it was more likely than not that it was copied?

I don't think so. I don't think Nouveau has anything to worry about.

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