Subject: Re: README: -current broken for a while
To: Ted Lemon <>
From: Chris G. Demetriou <>
List: current-users
Date: 09/03/1997 11:43:33
> But this is precisely why we are where we are, Chris.  You keep making
> statements that we have to take seriously.  Sure, you didn't
> *literally* threaten to sue me, and maybe you didn't even intend the
> veiled threat in your message, but it was there just the same.  You'd
> threatened another NetBSD contributor with legal action just the day
> before.  What was I to think?

I'd sort-of threatened that "NetBSD contributor" with legal action (I
_did not_ threaten legal action, to be precise!) because he (more or
less; the system he was administering was providing a service with his
consent, and he did not respond to reasonable, "normal" channels of
communication over a period of a month) was distributing code that I
and others wrote, with no copyright notices whatsoever.

If you were planning to do the same thing, or planning to take code of
mine which was removed, drop it right into the NetBSD source tree
minus copyright notices, and commit it, then you probably did (and
do!) have reason to be concerned.

FWIW, that has nothing to do with my license.  Indeed, the NetBSD
Foundation should have taken action to deal with the problem, in my
opinion, because their copyright, as well as the copyright of many of
their contributors was being violated.  When people put code into the
NetBSD source tree, there is some trust that TNF will attempt in at
least minimal ways to make sure that people aren't violating the
copyrights and license terms on that code, or will at least inform the
developers of possible/probable violations if they are known to TNF.
TNF probably has no legal requirement to do that, but they do have an
responsibility to do so; "NetBSD, the organization" doesn't take care
of "NetBSD, the contributors," the contributors will go away.
"NetBSD, the organization" was making no attempt to act even
reasonably in that regard (indeed, on at least one instance
disclaiming all such resonsibility), and in my opinion is deserving of
no trust or confidence from users or developers.

> As it is, you shouldn't be surprised when people start having paranoid
> fantasies about you - this is real life, not a game.  We're hacking on
> NetBSD for fun, not to get sued.

Actually, I'd argue that it's a lot more than "for fun."  People are
depending on NetBSD for various things.  Over time, I've done a lot of
un-fun things to help support them.

For a long time, I "had fun" hacking on NetBSD, but a large part of
that "fun" required getting credit for code that I wrote.  A small
group of people more or less ruined that, and my new license ended up
being created.  'Core' approved that new license, then changed their
mind on it.  You can't blame me for _that_.

On a slightly different note, there are lots of things which are "fun"
that are legally or morally wrong (at least for most moral standards
8-).  Just because something is "fun" doesn't mean that it's "right"
or "good."  If your contributions to NetBSD violate somebody's
copyright or other intellectual property concerns, it doesn't matter
to the person or organization that you've screwed that your actions
were only "for fun."

> It really sucks that as a result of
> this schism, my job at Vixie Enterprises (no, I am not logically a
> consultant right now) is in jeopardy, and if I keep it, I will no
> longer be getting paid to hack on NetBSD.

That does suck, but I don't consider it my fault or problem.  (It's
also not clear that your complaint here can be consistent with your
"for fun" comment above, but that's another issue.)

First of all, I'm not the one who changed their mind about what was
acceptable for inclusion in the NetBSD source tree.  If 'core' hadn't
agreed in the first place to my license, something else would have
been worked out way back when (or, I would have walked away then, with
whatever consequences for you).  As it is, with my code backed out,
the situation is as if i walked away then (except there's other code
in the tree which I wrote and distributed under either my old license
or gave to TNF, in that time).

Second, I'm not the one who started removing code (or did any of the
other things that 'core' did in this episode).  The fact that 'core'
started removing the code in question without as much as sending me
any e-mail first caused me to take the position of "OK, if you're
going to remove it, get rid of it all and there's no bloody way i'll
change the terms on it for you now."  As far as I'm concerned, that's
perfectly reasonable; if you're going to kick somebody in the teeth,
you can't expect them to just pose and smile for you.

Third, you can't lay the actions or statements of your employer, if
any, that indicate that your NetBSD-hacking job is in jeopardy, on me.
If you or they were depending on me to continue doing NetBSD/alpha
hacking, then by all means I should have been on somebody's payroll to
do so (or, hell, even informed that _my_ NetBSD/alpha hacking was
critical).  (On the other hand, if they were depending on the code
which was removed to remain in the NetBSD source tree, they should
have indicated that to somebody else, probably 'core.')

Personally, I care.  I think that your predicament unfortunate.
However, just because I care doesn't mean that I think that you can
reasonably lay the blame for your problem on me, or that you can
attempt to badger me into doing something that I have no interest in