Subject: Re: This whole Apple boycott issue
To: None <>
From: Richard Stallman <>
List: macbsd-general
Date: 09/06/1994 00:54:24
      The issue was
    that Microsoft took Stac to court because Stac's "Stacker" software used
    some DOS routines that Microsoft didn't want anybody but its own
    developers to use.

    Isn't that another form of trying to bully other developers?

    Are these two issues fundamentally different?

They are fundamentally different in two ways.

* It is not a form of bullying, because Microsoft did not start this
war.  STAC bought a patent to sue Microsoft with; they started the
legal fighting.  I don't blame people for fighting fire with fire.

* Microsoft's suit against STAC was based on a nondisclosure agreement
that STAC had signed.  I personally condemn nondisclosure agreements
in general.  I don't approve of Microsoft or other companies for using
them.  But most programmers consider them ok, and they are outside the
concerns of the LPF.

There is a related threat to programming freedom: some companies have
sued people for reverse engineering to find out about undocumented
interfaces.  These suits claim that reverse engineering is copyright
infringement.  If this principle were accepted, then Microsoft would
be in a position to sue anyone who figures out the undocumented calls,
even people who did not sign a nondisclosure agreement about them.

Some appeals courts have agreed that reverse engineering is copyright
infringement; other appeals courts have rejected the idea.  The
general impression I have is that this particular threat is not making
great headway now.  The European Community adopted a law explicitly
permitting reverse engineering for the purpose of making an
interoperable product.  But the US administration has been pushing on
Japan not to allow reverse engineering.  I've made some efforts to
stir up resistance to this in Japan, and will be doing more.

The LPF was considering taking a stand on this issue, but we decided
that our resources are so limited that we shouldn't take on a new
issue now.