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Re: fedora official ntfs support



On Thu, 2004-01-15 at 10:50, Szakacsits Szabolcs wrote:
> On Thu, 15 Jan 2004, Marc Schwartz wrote:
> 
> > My perspective on this is that Red Hat, and by association Fedora,
> 
> Your perspective is very reasonable but do you represent Red Hat or
> Fedora? Honestly, I really don't know. 

No, I do not represent nor am I associated with RH or Fedora in any
fashion, other than as a user. I am a small business owner who over the
years has spent a fair amount of time with lawyers negotiating
contracts, joint ventures and other such things. You gain some insight
into how lawyers think when doing such things....

> > represents a potential target for litigation regarding the inclusion of
> > non-FOSS components (ie. NTFS, MP3, etc). 
> 
> MP3 is patented, NTFS is unknown.

NTFS whether patented or not is proprietary. When one patents something,
it must be documented. 

If MS wishes to keep the inner workings of NTFS proprietary AND secret,
they don't patent it. Folks can elect to reverse engineer something, but
since the Windows license prohibits such activity (at least in the
U.S.), MS could elect to sue you under applicable laws. 

As an individual, you may say "so sue me". A publicly held company like
RH cannot take such a flippant position.

The likelihood of such a suit might depend upon how much damage MS might
believe it has suffered and whether or not the target of the suit has
any assets that could be seized to recover some or all of the losses
(versus simply be driven into bankruptcy). MS may also look to recover
its legal fees in such a scenario. 

That is why MS tends to go after folks who engage in large quantities of
software piracy for profit and not individual folks. There is more to
recover in the former case. In the latter case, they simply make
assumptions as to revenue losses due to piracy and increase their
pricing accordingly (just like retail stores inflate their pricing to
cover losses due to shoplifting).

If you patent something, your general intent is to protect your
investment in the R&D in the face of possible competition, but you may
also have visions of generating revenue via the licensing of the
technology during the duration of the patent protection and/or
preventing competition from duplicating your technology during that time
frame by demonstrating ownership.

You can do that with a non-patented technology (like NTFS) such as
licensing the technology to a third party (ie. disk defrag software) and
putting a restrictive non-disclosure agreement in place.

The choice of which path to take may depend upon a variety of factors.


> > That litigation could be based upon patent/intellectual property
> > issues and/or data loss/integrity issues, since the NTFS drivers are
> > considered "experimental".
> 
> Please read the url I've sent or see the maintained driver documentation.
> The old driver write support isn't "experimental", it's _broken_.
> The new driver is ... quoting from the 2.6.1 kernel source [or
> 2.4 backported driver],
> 
>     "we have so far not received a single report where the driver would 
>     have damaged someones data so we assume it is perfectly safe to use.
> 
>     Note:  While write support is safe in this version (a rewrite from
>     scratch of the NTFS support), it should be noted that the old NTFS
>     write support, included in Linux 2.5.10 and before (since 1997),
>     is not safe."


Being a professional in the field of data analysis, unfortunately, one
cannot prove a negative. The fact that an adverse event has not yet
occurred does not mean that it will not at some point in the future. 

It may also mean that any actual damage was subtle enough to not stand
out against the noise of other problems that were observed.

It is against that backdrop that RH must make cautious decisions about
including anything in the distro that **could** result in future
litigation. The only certain way to avoid a speeding ticket is to not
speed.


> > Get over it and move on.
> 
> I'm afraid Red Hat, Fedora users won't get it over until an official
> statement is made.


Well, since RH has not yet made such a statement and this has been an
issue, at least within the user community for some time, I would guess
that it is unlikely that RH will issue such a statement. 

At this point, we are to some extent treading in a legal grey area.
Putting an official statement out that might contain legal assumptions
without precedent and not based upon known fact may simply cause more
confusion.

RH's legal counsel has most likely rendered internal legal opinions that
would caution RH's management against such an action.

The bottom line is that it is not there.

Base your operational decisions and distro choices on known facts.

If you raise Mandrake and other distros that have included such things,
especially community based distros, you are comparing apples to oranges.

Marc





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