Subject: Vendors without a clue
From: "Russell Nelson" <nelson@CRYNWR.COM>
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1993 23:52:19 EST

I have a (potential) customer for whom I'm adapting a packet driver.
I'm going to be using some chunk of code that they wrote to read some
configuration data off their board.  That code, being linked into GPL
software, must be published under the GPL.  So far so good.

I got a call from this customer today:

C: "So we have to put this software into the public domain, right?"

Me: Sigh.  I explain "No, the software will say Copyright Customer Inc".

C: "But they can still do anything they want, and they have to get the source."

Me: "Right."

C: "Well, we've put some clever features into the code.  Isn't there a way
    for us to get a packet driver without source?"

Me: "No, the skeleton copyright requires the use of the GPL, and it's
    too late to change it, not that I'd want to anyway."  Classic
    third-partying on my part.

C: "Can't we just publish source for everything but our module, and
    distribute an object file for that?"

Me: "No, that's been tried by Xircom.  It didn't work, and I won't
    try it again."

C: "I wonder why they tried so hard to protect their source."

Me: "Me too.  There is a big problem with trying to protect your
    methods from reverse engineering by refusing to publish source.
    You see, any cloner with the resources to actually clone your
    hardware can certainly afford to reverse engineer your product.
    So it's no real barrier to cloning.  But the programmers you want to
    encourage aren't going to bother reverse engineering it; they're
    just going to support someone else's hardware.  In today's
    marketplace you can't afford that.

    "It's the same reason why you can't get rid of special interests
    in Washington.  For the special interest, the issue is very
    important. But even though it's more important to taxpayers in
    aggregate, it's individually beyond noticing.  So Washington
    greases the squeaky wheel, and everyone suffers in the whole.

C: "Yes, I see your point.  But I'll have to run it past marketing."

Maybe I have him convinced.  Then again, maybe I lost the contract.
I'll keep you posted...

-russ <> What canst *thou* say?
Crynwr Software           Crynwr Software sells packet driver support.
11 Grant St.              315-268-1925 Voice  |  LPF member - ask me about
Potsdam, NY 13676         315-268-9201 FAX    |  the harm software patents do.