[TUHS] Why Linux not another PC/UNIX [was Mach for i386 ...]

Paul Ruizendaal pnr at planet.nl
Thu Feb 23 09:51:11 AEST 2017


On 22 Feb 2017, at 19:24 , Larry McVoy wrote:

> So what is written there was not how I felt at all.  I personally felt
> like AT&T had a case, I thought it was copyright not trade secret.

I'm not a lawyer, but wasn't part of the background that prior to 1988
in US law one could not claim both copyright and trade secret protection,
and that for something to be copyrighted it had to expressly claim to
be copyrighted material, and be registered as such?

I have a vague recollection that the AT&T legal department instructed the
Unix team to remove copyright notices from the Unix source (and this seems
supported by code, see for instance:
http://minnie.tuhs.org/cgi-bin/utree.pl?file=V5/usr/sys/ken/sys1.c
and
http://minnie.tuhs.org/cgi-bin/utree.pl?file=V6/usr/sys/ken/sys1.c)
because the legal folks thought that trade secret was a stronger
protection for software?

I also seem to recall that the AT&T code base included original material
from CSRG where the copyright notice had been removed by USL.

All in all, the USL lawyers probably felt that they would lose the case if
fought on the grounds of copyright violations alone.

I wish something like Groklaw had existed during the USL-UCB case: the
legal twists and turns would have been documented a lot better. There is
some material though, see:
http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=legal-docs#bsdi
The amicus brief by the Regents, and the settlement make for interesting
reading. If the position taken by the Regents is correct, all of Unix
up to and including 32V is in the public domain now.

Warren: the links from Groklaw to TUHS are broken, perhaps because of
the recent reorganization of the archive.




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