TCP/IP's free nature (was Re: [ILUG] Re: ILUG sends s/w patents
briefing document to Irish MEPs)
jm at jmason.org
Tue Mar 22 00:43:30 GMT 2005
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Rick Moen writes:
> Quoting Niall O Broin (niall at linux.ie):
> > Although the original standards were owned (I think DoD money
> > paid for them) they were free for all to use, and so they were very
> > similar in their availability to open source software today, and that
> > freedom was important to their wide adoption.
> I believe the first TCP/IP implementation was developed under DoD ARPA
> grant by BBN. ARPA subsequently (1985) tried to pressure UC Berkeley's
> CSRG (Computer Science Research Group -- the BSD people) into adopting
> BBN's code, which CSRG found ridiculously unstable, into 4.3BSD, so they
> wrote their own much, much better replacement.
> Since the design wasn't patented ("owned"), it was inherently free to
> reimplement as people wished.
I'm not sure about BBN's original work, but it's worth noting that since
the passing of the Bayh-Dole act in 1980
dictated that 'universities may elect to retain title to inventions
developed through government funding' and 'universities must file patents
on inventions they elect to own', it's dubious that any such product of
academia as 4.3BSD, or their TCP/IP stack, would necessarily be open
source these days.
In the 60s and 70s, it was a necessity, since those inventions took
place under government funding, and until Bayh-Dole there was a more
powerful requirement that the results be placed in the public domain,
or under a non-restrictive license (if I recall correctly).
Not that the European academic situation is any better -- as far as I know
European universities are encouraged to assert IP ownership over research
that takes place in those universities too.
> > The only comparable protocol (and in many ways of course it's NOT
> > comparable, but it was also very widely used) that springs to mind was
> > IPX but it was an owned protocol, and was used only by one company, or
> > to interwork with that company's products. I imagine there are many
> > readers of this list don't even know what IPX is.
> Good ol' Internet Packet Exchange and Sequenced Packet Exchange.
> Aren't they fully defined in RFCs 1132, 1234, 1553, 1634, and others?
> I could swear that the entire traditional NCP stack had been publicly
> documented, by now.
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