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TCP-group 1995


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Re: LPF Statement on the GIF controversy (LZW patent)



> What I find interesting, if not puzzling, is the fervor some in this group 
> have over the misuse or infringement over various copyrighted material in 
> xNOS while the infringment or misuse over real legit corporate copyrights in
> xNOS are summarily justified because, 'well, we dont sell xNOS', 'this is 
> just a hobby' etc etc.

Patents are different. With copyrights you actually have to use the original
version or have taken something from it in the infringing work.  With
patents you can't even duplicate the patented item accidentally in
original work.  That isn't exactly the case here but it is why everyone
is so concerned.

> I guess I just dont understand the legal system. A 'poor mans' view would 
> say, if one public domains the source, they are relinquishing copyright 
> status. But, I'm not a laywer and no one put me in charge.

My understanding is that an odd sequence of events led up to the current
situation.  The Compuserve programmers who developed the GIF spec
found LZW in published material with no indication of a patent being
pending at the time.  Compuserve released the GIF spec to the public
at no cost.  Concurrently a similar thing was happening with the
common unix 'compress' program.  Much later, everyone finds out that
Unisys is unhappy (or perhaps just greedy...) and much existing work
done in good faith will have to be re-done.

Les Mikesell
  les@mcs.com




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