[TUHS] unix non disclosure clauses

martin hardie martin.hardie at gmail.com
Wed Apr 20 18:55:39 AEST 2005

Hi i joined this list as I found some intersting stuff in its archives
and I am working on my Phd in law concerning the logic and rhetoric of
FOSS and i thought maybe the list would be a good source of
knowledgable information.

I am currently  proofing a draft thesis chapter I have put together on
the early history of Unix and have a question or two arising from text
of the early  licences.

The 1974 licence to the Catholic University in Holland (I guess this
was to Andy Tanenbaum) has a confidentiality clause in it. I presume
this was a standard clause.

That is interesting from lots of perspectives - the myth of a unix
commons, which we both know  is a myth in the GNUish sense although
people like Lessig still say it in their tomes; and from the
perspective that copyright or patents where not used to cover the code
but confidential inofrmation - this resonates with my work with
Aboriginal  artists in Australia and their communal system of
knowledge production and with the notion of trust and equity which I
am building towards in this research.

But right now what interests me is a bit more in the context of
contemporary "licence fetishism" or the way licences and IP were
viewed back then. I am sort of trying to deal with the way that many
commentators (like Lessig, Wayner and even Raymond) credit changes in
unix and linux to legal command. I just don't buy that but position
them more in the context of the globalisation of production.

Anyway, the question -  the licences prohibited dissemination of Unix
to third parties - eg in the case of universities the system could
only  be given/shown to students and employees.

How then was the question of bugs, fixes and updates dealt with? Did
everything come back to Bell and then get dealt with from there.  IE
the question of who controllled "R&D"? Did universities talk directly
to each other? And if so when did this become a problem for AT&T? If
at all? If they did was there any conception that they  were breaking
the licence conditions?

I am also intrigued about Raymond's comment that Ken quietly shipped
out copies of the program with a note "love Ken". Is this based in
fact? was it a covert operation? And is it tied into the matter of
turning a blind eye to licence conditions eg the unis talking to each
other directly?

Is that clear? If the uni's were talking to each other and Ken was
sending out gift wrapped parcels ......... maybe there was a commons
but not one annointed by law.....



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