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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Continuation of Doug's Colloquium

Peter P. Yim wrote:
 > To help refresh everyone's memory, ...
 >   http://www.cim3.org/tmp/unrev-II_colloquium/    (01)

Thanks for posting the links and pages. Note that permission to use
includes the word "subsequent" as well as "extended" -- and the web page 
just references "extended". If permission to use only used "extended" 
then I might agree with you that it covered work done during the time of 
the ten lectures or so, and did not cover subsequent activities happenng 
after the colloquium ended. But is says "subsequent". It also says 
"related". So then the question is, is a BI or BA sponsored development 
a "related" activity?    (02)

Peter P. Yim wrote:
> Based on the above descriptions, developing the OHS or any other system,
> obviously does not fall within the scope of this Stanford course. I,
> therefore, suggest that we stop talking about system development as if it
> were a colloquium activity, and even less so, an extended activity (because
> it is out of scope.)    (03)

 From an email from Doug on 3/20/2000 entitled "Organizing OHS/DKR teams":
 > Greetings: I want to start having regular meetings among
 > interested parties, about Open Hyperdocument System evolution,
 > Open-Source pursuit thereof,  etc.
[Granted that was posted to individuals and not the mailing list...]    (04)

It would seem from that and related discussions of design on the list 
and even the title of this thread ("Continuation of Doug's Coloquium") 
to me that such pursuit can clearly be detemined as a subsequent related 
activity of the colloquium if pursued under the name OHS, BI, etc. 
Clearly not everything can because Vannevar Bush's Memex predates Doug's 
OHS, and many people are doing similar things nowadays and earlier as 
the list shows.    (05)

It seems to me it is shaky ground to read a legal document based on what 
one feels the intent was irrespective of how the words can easily be 
construed in a worst case. If BI was the only one involved, maybe I 
could rely on good will, but Stanford is party to this and like most 
other public and private universities today they are increasingly 
pursuing copyrights and patents as a way to maximize their revenue streams.    (06)

Besides, if subsequent software development is out of scope as not 
"related", then why is there any problem getting BI and Stanford to 
agree to that in writing?    (07)

Peter P. Yim wrote:
> (ii) The intent of putting a "permission to use" statement in place was to
> facilitate the boradcast, webcast, taping and the subsequent publication of
> the colloquium content into courseware, a book or something in that vein.
> The indemnification clause (which, actually is fairly standard) is there to
> make sure that participants are responsible for their own acts.
> If someone had spoken during the colloquium (since dialog was a feature)
> and, either intentionally or unintentionally, divulged his/her employer's
> trade secrets, and the employer sues -- neither Bootstrap Institute nor
> Stanford University would want to be (nor should they be) involved. This is
> the type of situation the indemnity clause was there for. It does take a
> long stretch to get from this to interpreting it as being akin to "asking
> volunteers to absorb liability."    (08)

I disagree because as I read Doug's intent from the beginning given the 
history of BI and so on -- it was to have volunteers make significant 
contributions in an extended activity to build OHS software and populate 
it with information. That was why I participated at all from the start 
-- because I am an open source and free software developer interested in 
this area and thought there was value in participating in a community 
OHS project started by Doug and directly informed by his vision. I think 
our basic disagreement stems from whether permission to use (whatever 
the intent) covers this. You say it doesn't. To be conservative, I fear 
it does.    (09)

Yes, it is common for publishers to try to get writers nowadays to agree 
to such indeminfication things. That doesn't make them fair (and note 
even then those authors are usually paid and attributed). As far as 
accidentally divulging trade secrets, a proper agreement would at least 
give the divulger the right to ask the information not be further 
distributed by Stanford or BI (to contain the damage) and give them an 
opportunity to control the legal defense and so forth -- but this one 
does not. See: "The 'Standard' Book Contract: An Antitrust Lawsuit 
Waiting To Happen"
   http://www.mediachannel.org/views/oped/bookcontract.shtml    (010)

Under permsision to use, I could post something I think is fair use or 
describe a algorithm I thought up which someone else later patents, 
Stanford could be sued, and they could settle for a million dollars 
without even a court battle (in which I might have prevailed if I picked 
my own attourney and fought to the bitter end), and I'd be stuck with 
the bill.    (011)

Peter P. Yim wrote:
> 2. All this discussion is interesting, but the real issue is -- is there a
> real and appreciable risk and threat, to the extent that we should stop
> certain pursuits because of it. I guess each of us will have to answer that
> for himself or herself. I don't believe a legal professional, that we pay
> some money to, could do it for us.    (012)

In general I agree with the sentiment we all have to make our own 
decisions or where we stand on risk vs. reward.    (013)

A legal professional (or several) could outline the risks of how the 
agreement would be interpreted, and could construct sign off documents 
to mitigate those risks. However, since you think the risk is minimal to 
nonexistent, I can appreciate your position that that is not something 
worth pursuing.    (014)

I've tried to resolve this issue on numerous occasions, even offering to 
contribute my own money, offering rewards, pointing out how others also 
aren't contributing because of it, how it violates open source or free 
software community norms by being one sided, etc. I just seem to keep 
repeating myself to no avail. The people who agree with me on this 
generally have already drifted off the list or not joined it. The people 
who remain on the list for the most part then are a self-selected group 
who don't think this is a major problem as far as the level of 
participation they plan. We don't seem to be able to reach agreement on 
whether or not this is even a problem or what permission to use covers. 
  To the extent an OHS effort led by Doug is going to be made by 
volunteers (as opposed to paid staff) I think my request for signed 
statements from BI and Stanford limiting the scope of "permission to 
use" is reasonable given how broadly that agreement is worded 
(especially the use of "subsequent"). On the possibilty that I may be 
completely wrong on this, especially since there aren't many others on 
this list who post vocal agreement with my concerns, I'm willing to say 
I won't bring it up again. However, it has also not been resolved 
anywhere near my satisfaction, and as I have said before, while it 
saddens me, given the risk of software patents and claims of 
contributory copyright infringement I can't in prudence contribute 
significantly to the effort until this indemnification matter is 
resolved to my satisfaction, given the alternative (often similar) 
projects in need of assistance without such indemnification issues and 
with clearer and fairer copyright licensing approaches.    (015)

However, as I have said before, even given "permission to use", the 
mailing lists have proven to be very valuable in terms of being pointers 
to other ongoing efforts and continue to be so. For that and other 
reasons, I think the colloquium has been a big success.    (016)

-Paul Fernhout
http://www.pointrel.org    (017)