[Asterisk-Dev] OT: Raging Argument about the GPL/Patents/SCO

Jayson Vantuyl kagato at chaosium.net
Thu Jul 29 14:37:14 MST 2004

On Thu, Jul 29, 2004 at 12:19:54PM -0700, dking at pimpsoft.com wrote:
> > G.729 is patented. You cannot write your own G.729 codec
> No it doesn't. It does not forbid clean room implementations from
> being created from reverse engineered sources or from plain english
> notes. All that would be required to make a gpl stack for it would be
> for one person to take the specs and convert them to plain english and
> for another to read it and code it from english. The right to free
> speech provides for this and the gpl supports clean room
> implementations of anything proprietary, after all that is what LINUX
> started out as , a clean room implementation of a proprietary Unix
> clone, that base for the parent it self begin proprietary in nature.
> Dont give me that crap, you sound like SCO.
Sorry to cry foul, but patents don't give a damn about whether or not
you made a clean-room implementation.  Part of the suck of patents is
that they prevent other people from subsequently making the same
discovery and capitalizing off of it.  If Leibnitz had patented
Calculus, Newton couldn't have sold his books (I know you can't patent
mathematics, but you get the point).

Put simply, patents apply regardless of a clean-room.  Prior art is
another matter.

As for your licensing mumbo jumbo, it's just that.  IF you make a
derivative work of GPL'd software, you can't get the GPL off of it.
That's true, well, and good.

However, Digium owned the copyright on Asterisk before it was GPL'd.  As
such, they can offer it to you under the GPL, but still license it
later.  As for your changes, they never accept them unless you give them
the copyright or a license to it.  As such, you give them proprietary
rights over your change to source they already have a proprietary right
to.  They have the original rights, they have been given rights to all
modifications incorporated into it, the GPL isn't involved.  The GPL
binds people who recieve the software under it, not those who release
it.  Look at the GPL and you'll see that there are very few restrictions
on the author.

Again, Digium gave it to you under the GPL.  They did not give it to
themselves under the GPL.  Additionally, they don't take GPL'd changes,
only proprietary changes with a rights transfer and an agreement that
those changes will later be released under the GPL (although not ONLY
under the GPL).

Digium is not the only people who do this and they are NOT in violation
of the GPL.  Dual-licensing under the GPL is a very important feature
right now.  Look at MySQL or Qt--they're both dual licensed.

You should probably spend some time learning about law (if you can keep
your mouth shut long enough).

Jayson Vantuyl

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