Re: Bitkeeper

From: Adrian Bunk (
Date: Sat Jul 19 2003 - 18:45:19 EST

On Sat, Jul 19, 2003 at 03:39:56PM -0700, Larry McVoy wrote:
> On Sun, Jul 20, 2003 at 12:28:38AM +0200, Adrian Bunk wrote:
> > > product for *money*. If you paid us money, you'd have a point. But
> > > you didn't. You get to use the product for free and until there is
> > > some case law which says otherwise, we get to make any rules we like.
> > > And our rules say you can't reverse engineer. Too bad for you if you
> > > don't like it, I'm not exactly overflowing with sympathy for someone
> > > who paid nothing and is now complaining that they aren't allowed to
> > > reverse engineer and steal what they didn't pay for.
> >
> > The current German copyright law doesn't talk about money. If you allow
> > someone to use a copy the law explicitely states that some kind of
> > contract clauses (e.g. a complete prohibition of disassembling) are
> > simply void.
> Alan pointed out to me that the EU rules are for interoperability and they
> do not allow reverse engineering for the purposes of learning how a product
> works.
> Since BK can export any and *all* data and metadata from a one line command,
> it's awfully hard to make the argument that you are reverse engineering
> for interoperability. You can get your data as flat files, diffs, unified
> diffs, context diffs. You can get your checkin comments in any format you
> want. It's trivial to get data in and out of BK.
> You can even get all of that from a web server so you don't have to sully
> your hands with evil BK software.
> So where is the law that says it is OK to reverse engineer when the product
> already provides everything you could possibly want for interoperability?

Current German copyright law says things like that clauses that forbit
to gather information about the ideas behind a program through normal
program usage are void.

IANAL, and we are entering an area where you need a lawyer that reads
both your licensing terms and the copyright law to tell exactly what is
allowed and what isn't allowed.

My main point is:
There are countries that have laws that are different from US laws (yes,
there's a world outside the USA...). If I download software from your
server it is possible that my local law is the one that is valid for the
contract between us (independent of whether I pay for the software or
whether you give it for free) and my local laws might be different from
the jurisdiction in the USA.

> Larry McVoy lm at



"Is there not promise of rain?" Ling Tan asked suddenly out of the darkness. There had been need of rain for many days. "Only a promise," Lao Er said. Pearl S. Buck - Dragon Seed

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