[OpenBIOS] New power-up graphics BIOS.

Leighton Haynes dayta at ucc.gu.uwa.edu.au
Mon Aug 20 16:28:08 CEST 2001

On Mon, Aug 20, 2001 at 04:26:43PM +1000, Matthew Sullivan wrote:
> This is going off topic a bit, so appologies to those who don't want the spam -
> hit that delete key now ;-)...
Yeah, what he said :)

> "Gavin R. Brewer" wrote:
> > -----Original Message-----
> > >Maybe it is but there was a lot of dicussion about BIOS's and reverse
> > engineering and
> > >'clean rooming' before on this list and if I remember rightly a list member
> > having
> > >trained/part trained as a lawyer warned us about reverse engineering and
> > copying of
> > >code.
> >
> > Fair play, but when you decompile and reverse engineer, THEN port to another
> > platform, who has the slightest shred of proof?
> The problem is proving you did not just copy it, before porting it...
Most countries still have the innocent until proven guilty thing happening. :)

Of course, most countries also have the 'the man with the biggest lawyers wins'
thing happening too :(

> > >If memory serves me the problem comes down to if you have read the code and
> > any of
> > >the code matches the original it can be deemed that you have copied it...
> >
> > Fair enough, but what if two people from opposite sides of the globe come up
> > with nearly identical designs and thus source code? Then you start having
> > silly competetive ego-battles galore. (I dont think Richard Stallman would
> > approve..)
> Then it's not a problem so long as neither looked at each others source neither
> will be liable for copyright violations (remembering at this point that both
> would have to have copyrighted their software at some point and it is likely
> that they would do so at around the same time)...

An issue with software patents comes from the fact that you now have to start
proving that your software constitutes 'prior art', and you may
have to do this in court. I don't know about anyone else, but my home coding
is not exactly that well documented until after i've completed it, and I 
certainly don't have the money to defend myself in court. Luckily I'm 
in Australia, so I'm relatively safe. (Until of course, I go to the states for a
holiday, and get arrested.))

> > >however if
> > >you have never seen/read the code and write the exact same instructions you
> > can
> > >legally use it....
> >
> > People decompile all the time in firms and such. Why make a secret of it?
> Because if it states in a valid license that the software is not to be reverse
> engineered then that invalidates your right to use/view the software...?
In several countries, reverse engineering comes under the heading of 'fair use'
and is a protected right of the consumer. He is actually right that decompiling
and refverse engineering hapopen in firms all the time, primarily in trying
to work out how the hell something works, when the pathetic documentation fails
them :) 

> >
> > The Law sux in this respect. I get sick of Micro$oft running the US, and the
> > US running the world like the 51st state of America. What happened to the
> > Hacker Ethic?
> The law sux for a lot of things, but unless you want to spend time in jail you
> accept the law as it stands or move to somewhere where the law is different.....

> The M$ argument - well considering my employers you would guess that I,
> personally, agree that M$ pulls the strings in certain places and that is
> wrong.... However there is more than m$ at issue....  Living outside of the USA
> I have found that generally nothing exists outside of the USA - well that's how
> all the head offices/engineers seem to think. (Particually engineers that are
> writing TimeZone code!!! ;-/)

The USA is amazingly USA-centric. It's quite worrying. 
> Hacker ethic is a different matter, and each has a different view about what it
> is...

>From what I've seen of the hacker ethic, it wasn't very ethical ;)

> > Are you telling me that it
> > is *wrong* to look at the executable source, to admire it's wonderful
> > engineering etc. etc.?
> No, however if you intend to write something that will do the same/similar
> things, viewing someone elses source is a bad thing unless you intend licensing
> it as per the writers/copyright owners wish....

Well, from a pragmatic point of view, I agree. But it's important to note
that you're doing it as a path-of-least resistance thing, more than because
it's wrong, or any such thing :)

> > How can you patent Mathematics? After all, is that what design principles,
> > algorithms and data structures come down to in the end anyhow?
> In the literal sense maybe, however another similar example is drugs, they are
> all made up of elements in the purest form, atoms if you want to go further
> etc... yet drugs can be patented, you may as well just levy the same argument
> against the drugs companies....

I don't have an issue so much against the concept of software patents. 
The issues lie more in their definition of 'innovative' and the length that
patents run for. THe concept of a patent was originally to give the
innovater a period of time to exploit his invention before others
could, which seems all well and good. I have no problem with people 
profiting from their ideas. The problems are that the patent offices
are tending to just approve all patents, no matter how obvious, and that the
patents last far too long for an industry such as computers, where new ideas have
a horribly short life.


#0421 113 305 - dayta at ucc.gu.uwa.edu.au
How do you expect?/I will know what to do./When all I know.
Is what you tell me to. - Linkin Park/By Myself

To unsubscribe: send mail to majordomo at freiburg.linux.de
with 'unsubscribe openbios' in the body of the message

More information about the openbios mailing list