Subject: Re: JBoss aquired by Red Hat
From: Thomas Lord <>
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2006 19:23:39 -0700

As a personal note, I will admit that years ago I worked
for an employer that used *exactly* the kind of NDA
agreement we are talking about.

One day, an innocent third party wrote to me and asked
for a gratis copy of some of the GPL derived works we
were working on.   He didn't want support.  He didn't
want our fancy manuals.   He just had a need for the

It would be just a minute or two work for me to throw
a tar bundle at him and, just out of collegiality I thought
I should help him out.

I was also very junior at this company and had signed
a bunch of employment agreement forms I barely understood
so at least I had the good sense to ask someone first.

I was told it was OK to send him some of our derived
works but not all of them.  Not even all of those we had
already distributed to our customers, even though those
already distributed parts were GPL.  To send even
those already distributed bits to this guy would violate
NDAs that my company had signed.

Now, conveniently, the issue quickly became moot.
My employer had a shell script or something that would
sterilize the source of problematic material and the guy
requesting this was content with the sterilized source.
So it took may 20 minutes instead of 2 or three plus
a few minutes of someone else's time to answer my
question.   But it might have been different.

The incident never sat quite well with me, not that
I was in a position to do much about it.

Now, many years later, I better understand the issues.
My employer wasn't just spiritually wrong.  In my
opinion, they were legally wrong.  They're business
relied on violating the GPL, as far as I'm concerned.