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[5]: Wait a minute...
by atsureki on Sun 28th Aug 2011 00:19 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Wait a minute..."
atsureki
Member since:
2006-03-12

Ah see, but being shafted is all in the eye of the beholder. You don't like people borrowing from Apple's designs, and yet Apple has borrowed quite a bit from PARC, BSD, from the Mach, from KHTML, etc.

Now legally they're not obligated to give things back to these people who did the real work for them, but why after all this borrowing by Apple, do they not have a greater appreciation of the fact that software design has historically been shared amongst many different entities (despite Gates and Jobs claims to the contrary)? Why are they so quick to resort to litigation for even the smallest thing (say like an image viewer on a tablet that looks like their own)? They seem to be operating on the pirate's code:

"Take what you can. Give nothing back." - Jack Sparrow


Ironic invocation of piracy.

I don't know what it is about software that makes people so blasé about the difference between legal and illegal copying. I mean, when an end user breaks an EULA or pirates something they never could have afforded, then yeah, whatever; but there are serious financial and other consequences with this sort of thing on a corporate scale, like Psystar's end run around Apple's R&D budget, which the courts determined to be a counterfeiting operation.

Apple is in compliance with the BSD license, and they were specifically authorized to commercialize PARC's technology, so what do they owe to anyone that they're not giving? I suppose I'd concede that BSD also got "shafted" by Microsoft (allegedly?) lifting their networking code and Apple their entire userspace in order to make products that compete with the original over users, developers, and other mindshare, but it was always BSD's developers' choice to reserve so few rights.

Xerox could be said to have been shafted as well, having all but given away the future of computing, but again, their choice. And as for whether everyone or just Apple should have access to PARC's ideas, I guess that should have been up to Xerox, depending on the letter of their arrangement, but I'd bet money they were against it: they tried to sue Apple over... I'm not really clear on that; I think they wanted to collect back whatever Apple collected from any and all infringers, but in any case it was all dismissed, and anarchy ensued; cheap, ubiquitous anarchy.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: Wait a minute...
by vitae on Sun 28th Aug 2011 18:47 in reply to "RE[5]: Wait a minute..."
vitae Member since:
2006-02-20

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?"

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?

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.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[7]: Wait a minute...
by atsureki on Tue 30th Aug 2011 22:50 in reply to "RE[6]: Wait a minute..."
atsureki Member since:
2006-03-12

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.

http://lists.freebsd.org/pipermail/freebsd-chat/2004-July/002483.ht...

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.

http://www.trollaxor.com/2004/02/thank-apple-for-freebsd.html

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.

Reply Parent Score: 2