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Re: [DotGNU] the .NET API patent issue

From: Norbert Bollow
Subject: Re: [DotGNU] the .NET API patent issue
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 14:37:27 +0200 (CEST)

Hash: SHA1

  you misunderstood what I wrote.  The one piece of work which we will
be able to accept only under the condition that we know that it was
done outside the US is the "design of alternatives to the
US-patent-endangered APIs".  It is of criticial importance for the
future of DotGNU that this part is done in a legally bulletproof way.  
The lawyer said that specifically this part of the work has to be done
outside the US, and that the developer who does this must "never bring
the work with him to the US".  However, in the current situation "he
need not do any more than that" in order to "avoid direct liability".

So, since the laywer said that this particular part of the work needs
to be done outside the US, I'll insist that it must be done outside
the US.

I strongly recommend to US residents who would like to assist the
Portable.NET efforts to either stick to the not-patent-endangered
parts such as e.g.

- - everything that is in the ECMA standards

- - System.Windows.Forms (not affected by the .NET API patent issue
  because there is no non-obvious invention in making thin wrappers
  aournd a w32 API which is too old to be affected by the .NET API
  patent issue)

- - pnetC - porting glibc for use with cscc

- - implementing the "alternatives to the US-patent-endangered APIs"
  once they have been designed.

I'm not saying that code contributions on US-patent-endangered stuff
would be rejected.  The decision on what code is accepted into the
pnet codebase is ultimately made by Rhys, far away from the US in a
nice country where US patents have no legal force.  If something is
good and useful code but doesn't really fit into pnet we can create
another "DotGNU development project" for it (which of course would
also be "not based in the US":).  Just because the US has a broken
legal system in which software patents are accepted, we don't want
to tell the rest of the world to not enjoy freedom rights they can
legally have.

However I will personally very strongly advise US residents to seek
legal advice before contributing to US-patent-endangered code.  It
seems that the FSF lawyers are so busy that I can get gratis legal
advice from them only on matters which are of key importance to the
future of DotGNU.  Finding _some_ way how the DotGNU project can work
around the .NET API patents issue, without personal liability of
contributing developers, and without risk for the long-term future of
DotGNU, that is clearly important enough.  Resolving any reasonable
concerns of possible personal liability from contributing to DotGNU
in ways in which we recommend, that is clearly important enough.
However if a US resident wants to contribute to implementing
US-patent-endangered APIs, that is not something that I recommend,
and I do not think that I'd be able to obtain legal advice from the
FSF lawyers on how to do it safely.

Marcus <address@hidden> wrote:

> So US citizens are not welcome to assist to Pnet?
> On Friday 10 October 2003 5:24 am, Norbert Bollow wrote:
> > Hash: SHA1
> >
> > We have obtained legal advice on how to go about creating legally
> > bulletproof alternatives to the US-patent-endangered APIs.  In a
> > nutshell, the design part has to be outside the US (and whoever
> > does it should never take the fruit of this work with him into the
> > US), however the FSF patent lawyer says that implementing those
> > replacement APIs in terms of already-exiting free libs will be
> > "entirely safe", even for developers in the US.

Greetings, Norbert.

- -- 
Founder & Steering Committee member of
Free Software Business Strategy Guide   --->
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59        Fax +41 1 972 20 69
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