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    SubjectStatement by SFLC (was Re: Wasting our Freedom)
    On Sunday, 16 September 2007, J.C. Roberts wrote:

    Let's say
    someone took the linux kernel source from the official repository,
    removed the GPL license and dedicated the work to public domain or put
    it under any other license, and for kicks back-dated the files so they
    are older than the originals.

    Now take it one step further. For the sake of example, let's assume all
    of this atheros driver nonsense went to a German court and the
    GNU/FSF/SFLC/Linux or whoever you want to call yourselves lost a
    criminal copyright infringement suit. You have now been legally proven
    to be guilty code theft.

    After such a ruling let's assume some jerk was to do the all the
    horrific stuff mentioned in the first paragraph above to the linux
    source tree, along with a little regex magic to call it something other
    than "linux" and seeded the Internet with countless copies.

    None of this has happened. What has happened is that people who do
    not have full possession of the facts and have no legal expertise--
    people whom from the very beginning we have been trying to help--have
    made irresponsible charges and threatened lawsuits, thus slowing down
    our efforts to help them. It might be useful to recall the first
    stage of this process, when OpenBSD developers were accused of
    misappropriating Atheros code, and SFLC investigated and proved that
    no such misappropriation had occurred? Wild accusations about our
    motives are even more silly than they are false.

    We understand that attribution issues are critically important to free
    software developers; we are accustomed to the strong feelings that are
    involved in such situations. In the fifteen years I have spent giving
    free legal help to developers throughout the community, attribution
    disputes have been, always, the most emotionally charged.

    But making threats of litigation and throwing around words like
    "theft" and "malpractice" was a Really Bad Idea, because once some
    people started using that language--thus making adversaries rather
    than collaborators of themselves--I had no choice but to ask my
    clients and my colleagues to stop communicating with them.

    Let me therefore point out one last time that if the threats of
    litigation and bluster about crime and malpractice--none of which has
    the slightest basis in fact or law--were withdrawn, we would be able
    to resume detailed communication with everyone who has a stake in the

    Also, and again for the last time, let me state that SFLC's
    instructions from its clients are to establish all the facts
    concerning the development of the current relevant code (which means
    the painstaking reconstruction of several independent and overlapping
    lines of development, including forensic reconstruction through
    line-by-line code reviews where version control system information is
    not available), as well as to resolve all outstanding legal issues,
    and to make policy recommendations, if possible, that would result in
    all projects, under both GPL and ISC, having full access to all code
    on their preferred terms, on an *ongoing* basis, with full respect for
    everyone's legal rights. We continue to believe those policy goals
    are achievable in this situation. The required work has been made
    more arduous because some people have chosen not to cooperate in good
    faith. But we will complete the work as soon as we can, and we will,
    as Mr Garvik says, follow the community's practice of complete
    publication, so everyone can see all the evidence.

    We will make no more public statements until the work is complete, and
    we will be neither hurried nor intimidated by people who shout at us
    instead of helping.

    Eben Moglen v: 212-461-1901
    Professor of Law, Columbia Law School f: 212-580-0898 moglen@
    Founding Director, Software Freedom Law Center
    1995 Broadway (68th Street), fl #17, NYC 10023

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