On Sun, Jan 29, 2006 at 10:59:10PM -0700, Pat M. wrote:
- I may charge money for people using my code (a la Microsoft), and
having them be able to see the source might compromise my income
Better treated as a contractual issue than a code obfuscation one.
All I know about trade secret issues is the result of a 20 minute
convo in my very first CS class, so take this with a jar of salt
From what I remember, trade secrets are only legally protected if
they’re practically protected first.
Jar taken. “Effectively protected” includes such things as “customer
contract saying ‘this software contains trade secrets and you are
to keep them that way’”. Otherwise, how would you protect your trade
secrets in areas other than software design – there’s no English
Obfuscators (despite the content of most web forums as being apparent
evidence to the contrary ). The rules regarding “effective
protection” are meant to stop people from putting up billboards and then
suing anyone who looks at them.
out clear text source code if you want to protect it. It may not be
possible with Ruby yet, but I’m willing to bet a lot of
unsophisticated arbiters/judges would say, “Okay if you can’t do it in
this language, why’d you write the code in it?”
You may be confusing trade secret law with the TPM provisions in
copyright laws. Part of the problem with the whole lumping together of
several very different areas of law under the banner of “Intellectual
Property” is this confusion that people have when talking about them.
Secrets are a whole world of their own, completely different from
Copyrights, which are totally different to Patents and Trademarks.
are little-to-no commonalities between them.
I know that IP is of course protected under open source licenses.
Perhaps it’s semantics, but I think it’s rather foolhardy to
distribute your source code and expect it to be considered a trade
You’re not putting your source on the Internet for all to download –
distributing it to your paying customers after the execution of a
binding contract – two very, very different things. They can even have
some level of “Open Sourceness” about it, too – a sunset clause that
that, in the event that you go out of business / are unwilling to
further support, the whole thing falls under the GPL for anyone to
Keeps everybody happy.
There’s this widespread confusion that “giving people the source” means
“giving them the source under an Open Source licence”. It isn’t. Way
in the day, that’s how just about all software was provided – you got a
copy of the source on huge tapes, and you compiled it on your machine
was, of course, different to every other machine). You used to get a
of the source for Unix, 6th edition, for instance, for US$140,000 –
entitled you to run it on one machine (but with as many users as you
fit on a PDP-11 – what a bargain!).
Finally, I’m a huge fan of open source, but I completely understand
why many companies/developers choose not to go that route, and have
absolutely no problem with it.
People can try to make money any way they like. I just prefer it when
everyone is honest about the reasons for their business model. (Note:
cheap shot at David, just a general statement of “feh” at the
software companies, which I’m increasingly disgusted at).