RE: Binary Drivers
From: David Schwartz
Date: Sun Dec 24 2006 - 12:47:06 EST
> On Fri, 22 Dec 2006 23:19:09 PST, David Schwartz said:
> > You can't sell something that doesn't exist. If you sell a car
> > even though
> > you can't explain how anyone could drive it, that's fraud.
> Are they allowed to sell a car that incorporates a computer that uses a
> trade-secret algorithm for controlling the fuel injection to get 20 more
> horsepower and 5% better mileage?
I assume that's a rhetorical question. Of course they are.
Now, let's try it another way: Are they allowed to sell a car that
incorporates a computer that uses a trade-secret algorithm for controlling
the fuel injection to get 20 more horsepower and 5% better mileage if it's
impossible to *start* the car without knowing that algorithm?
Then, I think it's obvious the answer is, of course, no. If you buy the car,
they have to tell you the algorithm.
If knowledge of the algorithm is required to use the car in a reasonable
way, even if it's not the normal expected way, then they can't keep it
secret. They can't sell something while keeping secret how to *use* it. And
that doesn't just mean the normal expected use. Buying something free and
clear allows you to use it even in unusual ways.
Perhaps that wasn't the best example. Let's try another one. You buy a car,
and then discover that the car computer has a lockout and a code needs to be
entered on the alarm panel to start the car between 4 AM and 4:15 AM on
Tuesdays. You ask the manufacturer for that code, since you would like to
start your car between 4 AM and 4:15 AM on Tuesdays even though many people
How many of the following answers would you consider fair:
1) We never wrote the code down. We knew it, but we didn't put it in a form
in which we can give it to you. Most people don't need it anyway. Sorry.
2) We're sorry. We know the code, but our contract with another company
prohibits us from disclosing it.
And so on.
Buying the car includes the right to start it between 4 AM and 4:15 AM on
Tuesdays if that's what you want to do. If the manufacturer couldn't sell
you the right or ability to do that, it couldn't sell you the car.
Owning a video card includes the right to make it work with Linux if that's
what you want to do. If the manufacturer couldn't sell you the right or
ability to do that, it couldn't sell you the video card.
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