Re: ncurses 4.1

From: Eric S. Raymond <>
Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 14:33:42 -0400 (EDT)

> If I believe that ncurses 4.1 was made illegally, or if I conclude
> that it's not good for the community, I'll stop the FSF's distribution
> of it. But I am going to judge this for myself, after hearing both
> sides.

Thomas Dickey has violated my rights under the Berne Convention, which
has been incorporated into U.S. statute law and affirmed in subsequent
case law. The Berne convention is explicit on the right of copyright-
holding artists to prevent mutilation and defacement of their work,
regardless of explicit licensing terms or even subsequent sale. I consider
that to have been one of the offenses here.

It would certainly not be good for the free-software community to
allow Thomas Dickey to get away with hijacking a project from its
senior maintainers (Zeyd benHalim and myself) as he has done. Custom
in the hacker community grants certain rights of final say to senior
maintainers for a reason -- it's a key part of the non-economic
conditions that make the whole system work.

Hackers tie up their reputations in what they write. If project
founders and their designated successors don't get to keep at least
artistic control and the right to prevent interlopers from making off
with active projects, the whole system of reputation incentives is
seriously threatened. That is the principle I am defending here.

Regardless of what you conclude about the legalities of the issue, be
advised that I would consider further redistribution of Dickey's rogue
"4.1" to be an offense against me, prejudicial to my good name.

Please be reassured that I do not seek selfish control of the ncurses
sources. I have already said in public that I would be willing to
assign my rights in them (both legal and customary) to a third-party
maintainer of good reputation, and would urge Zeyd to do likewise.
If the FSF wishes to propose such a person, my mind is open.

		Eric S. Raymond
Received on Fri May 30 1997 - 14:30:32 EDT

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