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SubjectRe: I2O, free software
On Tue, 22 Jul 1997, Theodore Y. Ts'o wrote:

> Anyone can join --- as long as they pay $5000, and sign an NDA which
> says that you will never release the specs, OR source code. There's
> another clause in the agreement which says that if the (heavily
> Microsoft dominated) I2O sig kicks you out, or you withdraw, you are no
> longer allowed to sell or distribute hardware or software that makes use
> of the I2O design.
> The above might sound like opinions. They are not. I am just trying to
> understand this thread and figure out what is the threat so many on the
> list seem to be concerned about.
> Now do you get it? :-)

If they demand to keep rights to kick out a member on their will (if
75% of companies that directly depends on MS will vote on very vaguely
defined conditions), thus potentially causing to that member (of whatever
kind) significant losses, it can be a cause for a lawsuit. It looks like
if any free software was designed and distributed, termination of
membership will not affect it unless author will want to have their
"certification" (AFAIK, no free software developers ever participated in
any certification except commercial vendors of freeware-based systems).
However the problem may be caused by the requirements of NDA -- if it only
disallows distribution of documentation it can be easily circumvented by
participating in non-profit organization that can be a member (still a
problem with membership cost), but if it will disallow publishing sources,
it will make any development impossible. If documentation is just
_copyrighted_ by i20sig, but sources that are based on it, are not, and
NDA does not restrict sources distribution, it's still possible to develop
free software. For example, I have developed a driver for Connectix
Quickcam that is based on the documentation with all those "CONFIDENTIAL"
notes on every page, signed NDA, etc, but Connectix explicitly said that
it doesn't restrict the distribution of software sources (even though they
basically contain the same information plus bugfixes for it). It all
depends on what actually is in the NDA and other documents that i2osig
requires -- I haven't seen them, and if they require only non-republishing
their specs documents, they are not much worse than ISO that requires the
same thing, and if otherwise, please, everyone who has a cause, sue them.


P.S. Even if they require to stop development/deistribution sources, etc,
it still can be ignored by non-members that gained access to their
documents (for example, by downloading pdf file from anonymous ftp site)
or based their software on reverse-engineering the hardware (which is not
disallowed as opposed to reverse-engineering the software). No agreement
that is valid for members may have any effect on anyone who didn't sign
it, and definitely their certification deserves as much respect as one of
POSIX-OSF-X/Open-OpenGroup (people who think that ownership of the
trademark "UNIX" automatically gives all of them them a clue what it is
and a right to "certify" what can be called by that word).

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