Re: ncurses 4.1

From: Eric S. Raymond <>
Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 14:12:00 -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 is in violation of my Berne Convention rights with
respect to software issued under my copyright. The Berne Convention
(which was incorporated into U.S. law by statute and is recognized by
subsequent case law) is very specific on the right of artists to
prevent mutilation or defacement of their works (regardless of any
explicit terms of license invoked by the offending party) and I
consider that to have been one of the offences here.

It is certainly not good for the community to allow Thomas Dickey to
hijack a project from its senior maintainers (Zeyd benHalim and
myself) against our protests, and jeopardize our good names. The
free-software culture depends on reputation incentives, and therefore
on the right of free-software authors not to have their work abused and
misrepresented by others, or their names removed from it in violation of
customary norms.

Whatever you decide on the legal issue, be advised that I would
certainly consider further distribution of Dickey's rogue "4.1" to be
a personal offense against me, in violation of my customary rights and
prejudicial to my good name.

It was I who originally added Thomas Dickey to the ncurses developer
list. Now I intend to force him off it, because he has demonstrated
that he cannot be trusted. The trigger of my action was his attempt
to claim control of yet *another* project of mine!

I do not take this action lightly. I have been involved in more than
forty successful free-software projects and have never before felt
pushed to such an extreme. My ultimatum follows many months of fruitless
efforts to negotiate or find some other solution.

Nor do I seek selfish control of the ncurses sources. One such
solution acceptable to me might be for the FSF to designate some
person of good reputation to maintain the source tree. I can't speak
for Zeyd, but I would be willing to assign copyright (and would urge
him to do likewise) to an acceptable third-party maintainer.

		Eric S. Raymond
Received on Fri May 30 1997 - 14:07:22 EDT

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