Re: BK Licence: Protocols and Research

From: Rory Browne (
Date: Thu Jul 17 2003 - 16:01:07 EST

I had hoped to bring this discussion to a more private level between
myself and Larry McVoy.

I am however disgusted to find that he has shared details, which I
explicitly marked as Private, with a third Party, namely One of the
Educational institutes I am involved with.

I find this breach of confidence distrubing.

* Larry McVoy <> [030717 15:55]:
> With apologies to the list for the off topic post (I'm really trying to
> not annoy you guys but some stuff we can't let slide due to legalities).
> On Thu, Jul 17, 2003 at 01:05:05PM +0100, Rory Browne wrote:
> > Would the conduction of research(and publication of results of same) on
> > the bitkeeper formats/protocols, preclude users from using the Free version
> > of Bitkeeper, for the research project?
> Yes, for the research project and/or anything else.
> > Would the carrying out of such research using the free version of
> > Bitkeeper, prevent them from developing a product which contains
> > substantially similar capabilities of the BitKeeper Software in the
> > Future, assuming that all copies of Bitkeeper were destroyed before the
> > development started?
> Yes.
> > Would previous activity in the area of developing a product which
> > contains substantially similary features to Bitkeeper preclude users from
> > using the Free Bitkeeper software?
> Yes.
> Each question above can be restated as "Would it be OK if we used BK
> in violation of its license?". The answer is no and if you did that we
> would be forced to come after you, if we don't and some large company did
> the same thing we would have a much tougher time enforcing the license.
> Trademarks and licenses tend to lose their value if you don't enforce
> them.
> Your questions indicate one of two things: you either have a burning
> desire to work on BK itself or a burning desire to copy BK. If it's
> the former, that's easy, send us a resume and if you are a good engineer
> we'll hire you, we need good engineers with a solid understanding of file
> systems, distributed systems, graphs and sets, and/or human interfaces.
> If you are trying to copy BK, give it up. We'll simply follow in the
> footsteps of every other company faced with this sort of thing and change
> the protocol every 6 months. Since you would be chasing us you can never
> catch up. If you managed to stay close then we'd put digital signatures
> into the protocol to prevent your clone from interoperating with BK.
> Instead of trying to copy our work in violation of our license, you'd be
> far better served by doing some new work. If you like SCM then either
> work here, work on some other SCM unrelated to BK, or expect a costly
> discussion with a lawyer. I realize this is an unpopular position but
> that's tough, it's our code and our license and you obey the rules
> or suffer the consequences. The license is a contract and it's an
> enforceable contract, we have gone up against a company who spends more
> on lawyers in a week than our annual gross revenues and successfully
> enforced it.
> --
> ---
> Larry McVoy lm at
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Jul 23 2003 - 22:00:30 EST