Subject Intellectual Property and the Architecture List
Author Jim Starkey
Several days ago, Jason posted a message that read (in part):

"Additionally, much of what is in IBO that makes it special will never be in
IBX unless it were to be "intellectually stolen". There are some very unique
and special algorithms that are under copyright protection and I fully
intend to guard them as such."

Ignoring the problem that algorithms are not copyrightable material, this
passage raises a question for this list that must be addressed: Can an
individual claim legal or moral ownership of intellectual property discussed
on this list?

The basis of copyright protection is that an original work is protected
from unauthorized copying, but the protection is limited to expression;
the ideas behind that expression cannot be copyrighted. Patent protection
is given to inventions in exchange for public disclosure of the invention,
but a patent must undergo scrutiny before it is issued; absent a decree by a
governmental patent office, no intellectual property ownership can be
claimed. Intellectual property can also be protected under contract law
as trade secrets, but only among parties to a contract.

The only basis for a claim of intellectual property protection on this
list could be trade secrets transmitted by contract (i.e. license), and
then only if some contract or license can be imputed by membership of
this list.

I have not agreed to any such contract or license. Any work discussed
on this list is automatically subject to copyright protection. A
work discussed can also contain patented material such as the InterBase
event mechanism. But I think we need a clarification from the moderator
on the policy on work presented on this list for which other claims
are made.

One such policy could be that any work discussed on this list is subject
to copyright, patent, and any other intellectual property statutes in
force in the list members country of residence, but that list member
can claim trade secret, license, or contractual protection for any
ideas or algorithms discussed on this list.

An alternative policy is that a list member is free to use whatever
theory he wishes to enforce intellectual property disclosed on this
list; that a list members surrenders no rights, real or imagined, to
work discussed on this list.

We have had a claim of special intellectual property rights to the
internals of a commercial product promoted by a member of this list
and a threat to enforce those rights. Personnally, I do not wish
to be at risk for unsolicated disclosures that appear in my mailbox.
If the policy of this list is that I can be bound to a claim of
intellectual property ownership by receipt of a mail message, I
can not participate on this list.

Jim Starkey