Linked by umad on Thu 25th Aug 2011 22:51 UTC
Apple I thought OSNews would be a good forum to talk about a matter that has been weighing on my mind lately primarily because the site has been so focused on Apple's patents and litigation as of late. The news that HP, the largest PC manufacturer in the world is spinning off or getting out of this business is what really prompted me to write this article.
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RE[7]: Wait a minute...
by atsureki on Tue 30th Aug 2011 22:50 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Wait a minute..."
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I should really let this thread die, but you know, emergency: someone is wrong on the Internet, and in fact I think this is the post I most thoroughly disagree with.

I specifically said they were not legally obligated to give anything back, and I won't even be so silly as to say "morally", but how about just for the sake of being reasonable? As in, "Hey, FreeBSD project, thanks for all the hard work, and thanks for Jordan Hubbard. Howzabout we help you guys out in return just because we do appreciate open source and don't call you a virus like Microsoft?"

Starting with a point of information: Microsoft (and really all commercial tech houses) call the GPL specifically viral, not all open source in general, and they have a point. Depending on various degrees of definition and interpretation, even something as minor as dynamic linking counts as making a derivative work, so you can't redistribute any code you write that depends on anything covered under the GPL unless your entire project is under the GPL. Commercial devs also have to worry that if any of their programmers are dabbling in GPL, they may be accused of incorporating copyrighted GPL code, without having any plausible deniability. So yeah, there are perfectly valid reasons to avoid GPL code as "viral."

And why not call it a moral obligation, if that's what you believe? OSNews comments rarely look at the world as it is so much as how the author thinks it should be, and morals are a fine concept for that kind of discussion.

Anyway, I googled "Apple contributions to BSD" (without quotes), and the first two links were very interesting.

This one rightly points out that Darwin essentially "gives back" everything they took by publicizing Apple's modifications to BSD's code (which they are not legally compelled to do). The second one contends that Apple is responsible for rekindling progress in FreeBSD, though the author's reasoning relies on a lot of undated, unsourced correlation and gut feeling.

The fact that both top results are from 2004 suggests that it's not exactly a heated controversy these days.

As for the copying thing, did you really think that all of these Samsung devices should be banned all across Europe just because the image viewer app looks like Apple's? If they make a device and looks and works exactly like the iPad, then by all means, sue them, but over something small like this? Really?

Why not? It's in violation of a patent that the courts have decided is valid. The alternative is to say "OK, that's decided, now run along and go on being illegal." You could argue that Samsung should have a window to correct the problem before any injunction takes effect, but I could counter that Samsung has already profited from a window of consequence-free sales of an infringing product, so this outcome is perfectly equitable.

This attitude of "we are not legally obligated to give anything to the FreeBSD, but Samsung has legally infringed our IP if ever so slightly" is part of what's wrong with the software industry. Being overly concerned with using the law as a weapon, rather than (godforbid) trying to foster a more relaxed business climate that doesn't make a mockery of the legal system. You speak of anarchy, but it's Apple and Microsoft that have started us down this path unnecessarily.

I think you're confusing anarchy with pandemonium, though the two often hang out. Anarchy is the absence of rule of law, and in tech, it's what gives us mountains of cheap Chinese equipment, because IBM and then Apple and Xerox and now Apple again could not legally protect their inventions from cloning. If I read you correctly, you're specifically promoting anarchy. That's fine; just own it.

Patent trolls are more the pandemonium side of things, and the law will slowly adjust itself to quell it. Yes, Apple and Microsoft bear some responsibility for creating the legal environment opportunists are presently taking advantage of, but they did it to fend off a different kind of opportunist.

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