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Charles Curley charlescurley at
Wed Apr 6 15:23:41 MDT 2005

On Wed, Apr 06, 2005 at 03:01:21PM -0600, Roberto Mello wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 06, 2005 at 02:14:50PM -0600, Josh Coates wrote:
> > 
> > what i got out of the article was something a little different.
> > 
> > i read "open source zealots ripped off (ie. stole) bitkeeper by illegally
> > reverse engineering it, which resulted in bitmover killing their free
> > version of the product."
> Ignoring the opensource-versus-proprietary debate here, if people can't
> study current technology (which usually means reverse engineering it), how 
> can people come up with new technology?

Since RMS often makes exactly this point about people studying current
technology in support of the GPL, you are not ignoring the open source
vs. proprietary debate.

To answer your question, by thinking of new ways to do things? Often
people reverse engineer products in order to swipe the product's
technology, not in order to come up with new technology.

> Only people that currently possess some technology is supposed to be able
> to improve on it?

That is the theory behind proprietary secrets and other ways of
protecting your IP.

> History has shown that this doesn't work very well. Of course we
> must respect licenses and do things the legal way. Some laws are
> just bad and should not exist in the first place.

Many firms try to protect their trade secrets by not revealing
them. This is not the exercise of a law, but simply a precautionary
step in production.


Charles Curley                  /"\    ASCII Ribbon Campaign
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