|Grokline's UNIX Ownership History Project
|“If there is any code out there that represents a conceivable risk..., we'd like to identify it and mitigate the litigation risk now.”
This is an open, community-based, collaborative research project, a living history, designed to carefully trace the ownership history of UNIX and UNIX-like code with the goal of reducing, or eliminating, the amount of software subject to superficially plausible but ultimately invalid copyright, patent and trade secret claims against Linux or other free and open source software. If there is any code out there that represents a conceivable risk of that kind, we'd like to identify it and mitigate the litigation risk now. If there isn't any valid claim that can be made, we'd like to be able to prove it.
We intend to collect, study, organize and document the historical origin, subsequent influence and surviving enforceable legal rights, if any, associated with every important feature of the UNIX operating system. Document includes gathering first-person accounts of UNIX development, the code itself, both in source and binary form, and contemporaneous documents, such as manuals, technical papers, textbooks, etc. Your contributions will be vital.
We ask you to help by contributing your knowledge, your memories, code you have legal authorization to contribute, and documents. Most of the programmers who authored UNIX are still alive. Many of you used the software at work. You don't have to read about UNIX in a book. You lived this history. You know where to find proof of pieces in the history of this software. Many of you have old manuals, contemporaneous legal documents, software, both binary and source code, and textbooks. Your collective memory, and proof of what you recall, is a powerful resource. No piece is too small to contribute, because the power is in the aggregate.
|“Most of the programmers who authored UNIX are still alive... You don't have to read about UNIX in a book. You lived this history. You know where to find proof of pieces in the history of this software. ”
We believe such a careful and precise history can provide a solid shield of protection. If we document and provide evidence of the sources, transfer and adoption of ideas and source code, we can discourage or, ideally, deflect future nuisance lawsuits against users or distributors of GNU/Linux software, lawsuits which we believe are intended to slow down or block the growth of the Linux operating system and other free and open source software.
Grokline's research results will be incorporated into a copyright, patent, and trade-secret-enhanced version of Eric Levenez' famous Unix History chart, which will be made available for noncommercial use under a Creative Commons License. Groklaw's Pamela Jones is Director of the Grokline Project. Peter H. Salus, Ph.D., consultant and author of "A Quarter Century of UNIX" serves as technical and historical advisor. Frank Sorenson is Manager of the the UNIX History chart revision.
COPYRIGHTS: First, we want to document how much of the Unix code-base is not copyrightable, by showing that it had its origins in earlier versions that are themselves either no longer copyrighted or never were copyrighted or copyrightable.
TRADE SECRETS: If some piece of code, or piece of related knowledge, can be shown to be well-known by third parties who are not under any contractual non-disclosure obligation, it is no longer a trade secret.
PATENTS: If an idea, method, or function can be proven to be already known, (even if just to the small group of relevant experts "learned in the art") then any patent granted can be invalidated. Grokline, with your help, can document that many "inventions and discoveries" were already known in the field before any patent claim on them was made.
The How to Help page will give you specific directions on where and how to list information you wish to contribute. You can contribute anonymously.