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[DotGNU]Protection from legal harassment (was Re: DotGNU and business)

From: Norbert Bollow
Subject: [DotGNU]Protection from legal harassment (was Re: DotGNU and business)
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2002 13:10:35 +0200

Timothy Rue <address@hidden> wrote:

>  NB> Things are not as easy as this.  Prior Art is definately a very
>  NB> good and valuable thing.  However in practice, the existence of
>  NB> prior art does not always prevent patent claims from being
>  NB> accepted.  And if then a company with deep pockets sues you, you
>  NB> may still have a serious problem even when from theory we would
>  NB> say that it should be easy to prove the patent to be invalid.
> But all this is really a fear tactic of use by those not really
> supporting freedom but rather one body rule methodologies. So instead,
> lets' focus on using the freedoms we have to improve and expand them,
> instead of extending monopolistic (who's got the most money) fear tactics.
> OK?

Besides hoping to get protection from an organisation with "one
body rule methodology" (yes, one of the things that
FreeDevelopers had promised was to give us is this protection),
there's another way of protecting yourself:

Look at what Rhys has done.

He has set up a company called "Southern Storm Software, Pty
Ltd" which has a single employee (Rhys).  From a legal
perspective, DotGNU Portable.NET is not produced by Rhys, but
rather by this company.  This makes it much more difficult to
personally harass Rhys through lawsuits of any kind.

Only the truly paranoid would think that this kind of protection
is necessary also for small-time contributors to Free Software
projects.  But if you're planning to do something of true
significance (and from your earlier comments about "network
operating system" stuff I think this may be the case) then I'll
strongly recommend that you should set up such a

Greetings, Norbert.

A founder of the project and Steering Committee member
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet   (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59         Fax +41 1 972 20 69
List hosting with GNU Mailman on your own domain name

> >> going to the I find a link to
> >> but upon further inspection it appears
> >> that effort has also gotten bogged down almost to a halt
>  NB> This is my impression also.
> >> Seems dotgnu is related, but really a project of it's own.
>  NB> Well, the three founders of the DotGNU project intially met on a
>  NB> mailing list of FreeDevelopers.  At a later time there were
>  NB> ideas to turn the DotGNU project into a business project, and
>  NB> FreeDevelopers played a large role in those ideas, but these
>  NB> ideas are dead now.  Right now it seems that the only
>  NB> practically relevant relationship between FreeDevelopers and the
>  NB> DotGNU project is that Inc. is still domain
>  NB> name holder for the and domain
>  NB> names, (i.e. FreeDeveloper is responsible for paying domain name
>  NB> renewal fees) and also FreeDevelopers may hold a trademark on
>  NB> DotGNU (I don't know anything specific about that, only that
>  NB> there were intentions to register such a trademark.)
> Interesting! Perhaps there should be such a notice of closed doors,
> <shrug> as the signing of the Declaration of Software Freedom continues to
> happen. I don't know, but I don't think it's right in how misleading it
> can be, as it seem to be presenting nothing but a false hope.
> Perhaps there is another perspective. One of taking what is an making it
> better....or worse....instead of starting over, for certainly the US
> president in being elected, can't so easily "start over" the country.
> I've seen way to many things start up and die only to see the same or some
> of the same people repeat this process as many times as it takes to ...
> well I still haven't seen it done right. Honestly.
> >> I suppose that is to be expected when you try and mix politics with
> >> commercial business plans for a Free Software base.
>  NB> I'm now convinced that it's better not to mix them up.
>  NB> However, the events that caused most of the "core group" of
>  NB> FreeDevelopers to become totally and permanently frustrated
>  NB> with the person who made all the decisions in FreeDevelopers,
>  NB> that kind of thing can happen in any kind of organisation.
>  NB> More than anything else, that was a "people" problem.
> Not following the GNU/GPL rule of not allowing collected authority, but
> instead promote decentralization? :)
> >> But then business is the point of dotgnu, right?
>  NB> The point of DotGNU is freedom.
>  NB> The _strategy_ of DotGNU is to compete with a certain proprietary
>  NB> software company in a certain area.
> Please don't take this wrong, but isn't that like kicking the wounded or
> from another perspective, playing a game where there is a chance of
> losing, or from even another perspective isn't that really and honestly a
> rather small target? Does not all you really need to do is just provide a
> more free as in freedom option than "a certain company" does?
> The public and the world has got the message that "one rule" in the
> software industry is not a good thing, and that decentralized authority is
> alot better, more efficent and safer for the dollar and public interest.
> >> Personally I think trying to clone the "enemy" is inherently flawed
> >> at the very core or conception level.
>  NB> It has never been the intention to _clone_ .NET
>  NB> However for strategic reasons we consider it important that .NET
>  NB> programs will run on the DotGNU platform.
> Freedom, to all, even those who want to constrain the freedom of others
> (so long as their freedom does not contridict the freedoms of others,...
> no double standards.) No problem here, everyone has the ability to change,
> but exposure to a better way helps.
> >> I guess the point is to understand the motive, the incentive
> >> of Microsoft to "invent" ".net" to begin with.
>  NB> Some degree of speculation about this may help to predict
>  NB> possible future actions of our competitor.
> Isn't there like a long paragraph in the declaration of software freedom,
> that pretty much says "contridict Freedom in order to unsurp unearned
> value from others"?
>  NB> But the main thing to understand is what motivates
>  NB> decision-makers everywhere to choose .NET, and how we can
>  NB> motivate them to choose DotGNU instead.
> The genuine product of "Freedom" should be able to speak plenty loud on
> it's own and can only be gaged to the degree you design a system to
> contridict such Freedom.
> >> What's the goal?
>  NB> Here are the three main goals of the DotGNU project:
>  NB> The main goal is to prevent .NET, and the webservices wave in
>  NB> general, from destroying the essentially-free-as-in-freedom
>  NB> nature of the internet that we value so much today.
> Consumer choice, the anti-trust Law, should be all you need in supporting
> any genuine option. Perhaps it's just a matter of comming up with a
> genuine and better option?
>  NB> Secondary to this is the goal to create useful software that
>  NB> the contributors to the DotGNU project consider to be valuable.
> That's scary. Remove one rule to replace it with another one rule.
> Shouldn't it be about what is useful to everyone, which includes the
> contributors?
>  NB> Thirdly it is a goal to find ways in which DotGNU project
>  NB> contributors can earn good money through contributing to DotGNU.
> What is "good money?" Some things need to happen before other things can
> be done. For example, the industrial revolution needed to happen before
> the information revolution could happen, otherwise the information
> revolution would be running on what and communicating what?
> In other words, there may be an issue of putting the cart before the horse
> here. I don't know, but what I do know is that for there to be
> Integration Technicans (IT) there has to be data to integrate and map
> (perhaps that should be Integration Mapping Technicians?). But anyway,
> before that can happen the general population of users needs to be able to
> do more for themselves and that includes being able to speak computer
> automation. I think it's pretty clear that "good money" was already made
> in integrating nothing in the dot con era (depending on where you consider
> the money came from. re: trillion dollar bet.)
>  NB> So, for the DotGNU project, freedom is more important than
>  NB> features and both are more important than business interests, but
>  NB> all three are considered important.  (This in contrast to the GNU
>  NB> project and FreeDevelopers, which have both stated that they do
>  NB> not care whether developers get paid.  Actually, when I agreed to
>  NB> DotGNU becoming "a project of FreeDevelopers", I was under the
>  NB> impression that the whole point of FreeDevelopers is to work
>  NB> towards the goal that developers can get paid for working on Free
>  NB> Software.  I have plans for starting an organisation which can
>  NB> replace FreeDevelopers in this respect.)
> In the GNU theme of decentralized authority I think you will have a better
> chance of putting togther a business that bids on GPL projects, and hires
> the help as needed for fullfilling the project. While perhaps also seeking
> sponsorship funds to help finance some (multi-million dollar sponsors are
> not uncommon). I don't know, but with more and more governments adopting
> open source and free software, I have no doubt that one of the project
> requirements you might expect from such governments, is of having some
> sort of assurance of supporting the required license(s) in that of not
> wrongly using what you might learn from the projects (you know, the red
> tape stuff that all is well and fine or you go to jail without passing go.)
> One of the things I seem to be seeing happening today is that of Richard
> Stallman and some others going around the world helping others, like
> governments better accept, understand and use Free.......
> "Freedom Software" as in free from external corporate control.. This has
> got to be helping to generate more jobs for such freedom software
> programmers.
> >> I honestly believe, based on research, that the only way to
> >> really achieve this is thru FreeSoftware and GPL method. But
> >> I'm concerned that trying to clone the "enemy" is perhaps
> >> putting a very big inherently biased dampener on correctly
> >> achieving the goal.
>  NB> I think that your goal, while different from the core goals of
>  NB> DotGNU, is not in conflict with the goals of DotGNU.  So I
>  NB> suggest that you design a software project (or several) which
>  NB> you believe will achieve your goal.  Then, as a second step, we
>  NB> can discuss how those ideas could perhaps be made to fit into
>  NB> the DotGNU framework.
> Above you have more said what DotGNU is not then what it is, and I seem to
> recall a similiar lack of overall definable focus comming from Microsoft.
> As if to present a chalk board and claim their right to control the
> development of anything that gets written and suggested by others outside
> MS employ scribble on that chalk board. Really no different then their
> "Where do you want to go next?" promo theme and method of extracting value
> from others.
> It's obvious the worldwide netwerk is a valuable communication media. The
> fuzzy part is the details, the specifics of how exactly it's going to be
> used. But it's also like a moving target, that damn well doesn't want to
> get shot or trapped and then subjected to the constraints of being bled
> and not permitted to move beyond the cage..... But thanks to anti-trust
> law... some forms of hunting and trapping are illegal and this helps the
> target to keep moving. And I suppose this also helps to make dotGNU to be
> at best an effort to create tools that other will hopefully use enough to
> enable a viable market operating through the tools. <shrug> I don't know.
> But What I do know is that there is more than one way to skin a cat and as
> such, there is no guarantee. I suppose that is why MS is pursuing a
> direction of hardware constraints.
> Then there is me, a consumer who has to also produce in order to exist in
> the economic cycle of living in society. And I know that having such
> autocoding or "automation" tools at my access and freedom to use, would
> certainly allow me to do a hell of a lot more than what I have been
> allowed to do so far by the computer industries higher level of required
> resources than what I have available ..... and it appears to only be
> getting worse. Wanna see my pockets again?
> A Project to get out of this mess? Automation tools, as has been
> defined.....
> Ask me again, And I'll tell you the same.
> no matter, I'm actually toying around with the idea of a bounty or hire to
> produce it .......... IN GPL of course!
> But I really must say thankyou Norbert, for your feedback, as it has most
> certainly helped me to draw a clearer picture of dotGNU, where it stands
> and how I might, or not, benefit from it at this point in time. It's not
> an easy tasks for the user to grasp so quickly a clear view of what's
> happening with the computer industry produced tools the user is being
> presented with today and even harder to grasp now, what is planned for
> tomorrow.
> Where do I want to go today? How about to shell beach? (re: Dark City)
> ---
> Timothy Rue
> Email @ mailto:address@hidden
> Web @

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