Subject: Re: [Freesw] priorart.org
From: "Michael A. Olson" <mao@sleepycat.com>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 19:05:14 -0700

At 06:41 PM 5/15/2001 -0700, Seth David Schoen wrote:

>My point is that although IBM is willing to do free software
>_development_, it doesn't appear to be interested in fighting legal
>battles (in this instance, against the DVD CCA rather than against a
>software patent holder) to protect free software.

I'm not familiar with either LinDVD or LiViD.  I'm willing to
believe that IBM made a decision here on other than technical
grounds.  It's important to be practical, though.

There's no way that IBM is going to open its very deep pockets
to the possibility of a judgment against them.  If there is a
credible threat of litigation against someone who ships a
particular third-party product, then a responsible business
manager is going to look for an alternative every time.  In
this case, there were alternatives.  They may not have been
great, but they're less likely to push the company into the
courtroom.

IBM did the right thing here.  They should do what they can to
avoid being named in an IP suit.  Their shareholders, their
employees, and their customers don't want to see the company
risk a big dollar judgment for no clear business gain.

That's not to say that IBM and other businesses shouldn't promote
the cause of free DVD players in the open source community.  For
example, if some LiViD developers are being sued and need legal
representation, perhaps the community (through the EFF or in some
other way) could aproach IBM for contributions to a defense fund.

The strategy of promoting open source for business reasons is
sound.  Tactically, throwing yourself in front of the MPAA's
litigation train isn't necessarily the best way to achieive your
ends.
                                         mike