unsettled law

Info-Mac discussion from 1984 - 2002.
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unsettled law

Post by Info-Mac » August 27th, 1984, 11:18 pm

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From: [email protected] (info-mac)
Newsgroups: fa.info-mac
Subject: unsettled law
Date: Tue, 3-Jul-84 19:33:37 EDT
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Posted: Tue Jul 3 19:33:37 1984
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From: "Theodore N. Vail"
'm more concerned with people's attitudes than the exact legal
issues at this moment. If people showed some respect for other
people's works most of these issues wouldn't be so legally "hot"
right now...
Would that it were so simple! Very often the attitude is "I'm big and
you're small -- I'll take legal action and you won't be able to afford a
defense". I have served as a consultant to defense lawyers on more than
one such case. Usually the big guy was correct.

Another problem is charging for things that should be free or nearly
free -- there are companies charging high fees for unix products
developed at UC Berkeley and which are [effectively] in the public
domain -- e.g. the c-shell, the vi editor, Berkeley pascal, etc. We can
all cite numerous examples of this phenomenon.

A third problem is the protection given to the rom operating systems
in micros -- while the law provides for this, such protection may be
(probably already is) in conflict with anti-trust laws. It's not hard
to cite numerous examples where major companies were forced to put many
of their patents in the public domain (or license them at court-imposed
low fees) -- examples include RCA, IBM, AT&T, etc. This may happen in
the not too far future to the rom systems, etc.

Finally, there is a "public-be-damned" attitude among many software
houses. They specifically disclaim any responsibility for their
software. If it doesn't work as claimed, they charge you for fixing
it (maintenance and updates) and they certainly claim they have no
consequential responsibility. Laws protect the consumer for many other
products -- e.g. automobiles, airplanes, etc.

Both the software user and the producer are going to have to change
their attitudes before the existing chaotic situation ends.