Mr. Dickey's playtime is over

From: Eric S. Raymond <>
Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 01:07:54 -0400 (EDT)

Jesse Thilo writes:
> On Thu, May 29, 1997 at 09:18:48PM -0400, T.E.Dickey wrote:
> > > To the terminfo.src maintainer,
> > c'est moi
> Since when? (Seriously)

Mr. Dickey appears to have decided that hijacking one project and screwing over
Zeyd and myself wasn't enough for him. Now he's asserting control of the
terminfo database I maintain, as well.

This is only the latest instance of a pattern of arrogance and treachery.
While Thomas Dickey's technical work on ncurses has undoubted merit,
his behavior towards the two copyright holders and senior maintainers
(Zeyd and myself) has been not only grossly unethical but, under
U.S. copyright law and the Berne Convention, actually unlawful.

I've had enough of this. Repeated attempts by myself and others to
get Thomas Dickey to account for his behavior have failed. He won't
answer my mail. He has repeatedly ignored Zeyd benHalim's protests
about the unauthorized 4.0 and 4.1 releases. He has altered credits
on the ncurses distribution without authority to do so and without
the consent of the persons affected.

As one of the copyright owners of ncurses, I have the legal right to
forbid Thomas Dickey from distributing or modifying the ncurses
sources. I have refrained from exercising it because I felt I had
more important things to do than get in a pissing match with a skunk.
I'm afraid I have allowed disgust at this prospect, and the well-meaning
but misguided advice of others, to paralyze me for six months.

My tolerance, and my paralysis, is ended. Since neither attempts at
negotiation nor the customary norms of cooperative behavior in the
hacker community seem to mean anything to Mr. Dickey, it's time for
force majeure.

Exercising my legal rights, I have just deleted the unauthorized 4.1
release from I now forbid Thomas Dickey from
redistributing, modifying, or otherwise using the ncurses sources
without the explicit permission of Zeyd BenHalim and myself, the
copyright holders. He is enjoined to desist immediately under penalty
of law.

I am copying this note to the administrators of and to the
ncurses lists. All parties should consider themselves notified that
Mr. Dickey and no longer have the copyright holders'
permission to carry ncurses sources and are required to delete them
from's FTP areas and all other file areas of, under
penalty of law.

(Permission for to carry these sources will be granted once
I am satisfied that Mr. Dickey is no longer in a position to use to violate Mr. benHalim's and my rights.)

I ask all members of the ncurses lists to shun Thomas Dickey, beginning
immediately and continuing unless and until he makes a public agreement
to respect the rights and project seniority of Zeyd BenHalim and myself.
Under no circumstances will he be permitted to control future distributions.
I'll see to that if I have to have him sued or thrown in jail to ensure it.

The ncurses sources were written as free software and will so remain;
my exercise of rights is a specific response to Thomas Dickey's
repeated unethical behaviors and his usurpation of the software, and I
have no intention to prevent others from using the sources in all
customary ways. I will open a 4.2 archive hosted at snark by next
Wednesday (it would be sooner but I'm traveling this weekend).

In the interest of neutralizing any possible feeling that I merely wish to
selfishly control the project, I will also accept (and am confident
Zeyd benHalim as senior maintainer will support) self-nomination by any
third parties of good reputation on the ncurses list to take on the
roles of principal maintainers. After a suitable probationary period,
the present copyright holders will assign rights to those maintainers.

If no suitable persons come forward, I will maintain the source tree
myself until such time as I can hand off the job to a competent and
ethical maintainer.

		Eric S. Raymond
Received on Fri May 30 1997 - 01:03:34 EDT

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