Windows source leaked?

Major Variola (ret) mv at
Fri Feb 13 15:13:43 PST 2004

At 02:08 PM 2/13/04 -0800, Eric Murray wrote:
>On Fri, Feb 13, 2004 at 11:45:34AM -0800, Major Variola (ret) wrote:
>(in reply to someone else)
>> >Lots has been said about OSS developers not wanting to look at this
>> >for fear that they will be "tainted."  While it is true that simply
>> >the act of looking at the code is unauthorized and illegal,
>> If you didn't steal it, its not your problem if you read it.

>I disagree.

I meant there is no crime in reading anyone elses (lost) trade secrets.

I don't have time to look up the cases now
>but there have been a number of cases of companies being sued for
>(effectively) their programmers having SEEN some other code.
>The theory being that they are somehow contaminated with
>the valuable ideas embodied within and are helpless to resist
>implementing them.  This has resulted in
>many companies having "chinese walls" between some programming
>groups who are working on a version of a competitors product that
>the company has the code for.

Yes I know about this.  The solution was that the engineers
worked from specs only and had never seen the code.  It was OK
if the specs were derived from reverse engineering, or in M$'s case,
a source leak.  So a cleanroom use of leaked code (Alice extracts specs,

Bob who doesn't look at the code writes to them.) would be OK.

How are you going to show that Bob read the leaked code?
There simply won't be enough similarity *even if* (I'll assert)
Bob does take a peak.  Unless he's got photographic memory in
which case he should be in Vegas.

>This may not be "right", but it was extremely common in the early 90s.
>It's very expensive so I would be quite suprised if there was not
>strong case law on this.

Its mostly about employee-grabbing being bad, and writing to specs to
being ok.

>> I wonder
>> >if there is any truth to the claim that a developer who looked at
>> >Windows source would endanger future projects (assuming, of course,
>> >that simple copying---which is clearly illegal---doesn't happen).
>> How would M$ show that you had in fact read the code?
>They'd just alledge that you had, and then have "discovery"
>all through your files.

An abuse perhaps, perhaps it would be noticed after the first few
uses... And one would hide or wipe or shred such files after use anyway,

good hygiene.

Essentially any program could look
>like an "infriging work" to some judge somewhere.

Yes but what to do?  Perhaps organizations will help the sued with legal
precedents will get established that protect folks in the future.

..and goofball judges will be collected on wheelbarrows, bulldozed into
the flaming ovens..
sorry..... channelling you know who...

>If I were a conspiracy theorist I'd say tha MS released the code
>themselves just for this reason.

And surely this list is thirsty for conspiracy theories.


If someone spills the trade secret recipe for Coca Cola, its not the
case that
no one else can ever make a soda closer to Coca Cola than before.

You can sue a ham sandwich.  Sucks to be that ham sandwich though.


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