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Right-to-Use Transfer License Considered Harmful

:>    Date: Wed, 5 Apr 89 11:33 EDT
:>    From: Mike Maione <Maione@PEGASUS.SCRC.Symbolics.COM:>
:>    Subject: [Henry@AI.AI.MIT.EDU: Used Symoblics hardware]
:>    I would like to clarify Symbolic's policy regarding software licensing:
:>    First of all, Symbolics owns its software and never sells it. We license
:>    the right to use, copy, or transfer it to customers when they buy our
:>    hardware. We DO strictly protect and enforce this for many reasons but
:>    mainly because if we do not protect these very valuable assets,
:>    they could fall into the public domain.
:>    You should find this to be an industry standard.

Yes, I find these proprietary interests do be an industry standard.  I don't
think the license transfer policy is industry standard in that it charges
a significant amount for the right to transfer software that has already
been purchased.

:>    This is the official license transfer policy: 
:>    Symbolics Right-to-Use License Transfer is a one-time fee charged for
:>    the transfer of software license rights on a designated CPU. 

If I purchase software from Microsoft and then want to transfer it to
someone else, the purchaser pays me not Microsoft.  What is being
protected by the Symbolics Right-to-Use License Transfer?  The right
to use the software?  Surely, you don't claim that this is industry
standard.  Object code licenses are not generally subject to transfer

Note also that Symbolics is in a better position than other software
companies in that it is not possible to buy a "hardware-only"
configuration and then "pirate" the software by copying it from
someone else who is also using it on a different machine.

Is the Right-to-Use License Transfer protecting the source code?  Ah,
that's a slightly different issue.  The software industry tends to be
much more protective about source code and rightly so.  Once again, if
the original purchaser is giving up the right to use the source code
(by virtue of transferring both hardware and software), I don't see
the justification for the transfer fee.  The only argument I can see
for the transfer fee (besides just wanting to bring in more money) is
that this is the price that Symbolics stipulates for undergoing the
risk that one more (gasp) entity will be looking at the source code
and *might* do something unethical with it.  (Forgive the sarcasm.
I just don't see it happening.  Now if it were written in CLOS ...)

If Symbolics wants to ensure that the second purchaser is bound by the
same restrictions as the original purchaser, there must be some legal
mechanism that Symbolics can use without charging $10,000.

:>    Mike Maione
:>    Northeast Regional Sales Manager
:>    SCRC 
:>Mike can be reached at our Symbolics Corporate Research Center in
:>Burlington, MA at 1-617-221-1000.

Richard Shu

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this message are those of the author
            and do not represent the opinions of his employer.
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