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From Phil Steitz <>
Subject Re: [math] matters of copyright
Date Thu, 05 Jun 2003 20:03:15 GMT

--- robert burrell donkin <> wrote:
> On Wednesday, June 4, 2003, at 01:26 AM, Phil Steitz wrote:
> > robert burrell donkin wrote:
> <snip>
> >> the second is that we're going to need to audit our implementations 
> >> against copyrighted ones. (i'm hoping that some better qualified folks 
> >> might volunteer for this.) if we find any that are too similar, then we 
> >> should use apache development resources to create fresh clean room 
> >> implementations.
> >
> > I don't understand exactly what you mean here.  It might be difficult to 
> > find people with the combined legal and math skills to "audit" the code 
> > for copyright infringement. What did you have in mind here?
> i'm not sure that legal skills are actually necessary. i have a couple of 
> reasons for this:
> 1. once we've worked out collectively what we think is right, one of the 
> committers will contact the ASF legal team and ask them to check that what 
> we intend to do will offer sufficient protection to everyone.
> 2. it's not possible to have absolute protection against litigation on the 
> wide world of the world wide web (are there any lawyers who know the law 
> in every jurisdiction?). usually, acting responsibly and with due care is 
> usually good enough.
> what i had in mind was people with knowledge of existing algorithms (like 
> Al Chou and David Neuer) keeping an eye on the source and alerting us to 
> anything that seems too similar to existing implementations. IMHO what 
> would be ideal would be for volunteers to check our implementations 
> against the most common copyrighted implementations to make sure they are 
> not strikingly similar.
OK. I get it.  It may be difficult, however, to decide what qualifies as
"strikingly similar" and when we need to worry. I guess we will cross that
bridge when we come to it and hopefully it won't be too big of a distraction.
Hopefully as well, our reviewers (and ourselves) will also be verifying
correctness and stability -- making the whole thing a value-added activity :-)

> - robert
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