Genera and GPL

Byron Davies
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 20:18:23 -0700

>If the copyrights were bought by person X, person X would have the
>legal right to dedicate it to the public domain, or to license anyone
>to use it under, say, the GPL.

With respect to LispM software, there are several entities involved (even
with LMI out of the picture).  Symbolics, now bankrupt again, was until
recently the only company "actively" marketing Lisp machine hardware or
software.  Their main creditor is a bank (ABN AMRO); their main asset is
the Lisp software.  Someone, purportedly a group led by an Andrew Topping,
was/is interested in purchasing that software, presumably with intentions
of commercializing it. A LispOS-based offer would need to beat the Topping
offer or purchase the software from Topping.

If someone did manage to purchase the Symbolics software, there would be
two conceivable barriers to putting the software under GPL or into the
public domain: MIT, since the core of the software is MIT's intellectual
property, and TI, who might argue that the exclusivity of their original
license with MIT would prevent such a broad relicensing.  Frankly, I think
MIT would actively support the GPL move, and TI (or whoever now owns the TI
license) would be unlikely to oppose it (though their IP lawyers would have
to approve the deal).

Another possibility would be to convince TI (or whoever) to put the
Explorer software under GPL.  There are some who sneer at TI's Lisp
software versus Genera, but there were many others -- particularly west of
the Mississippi -- who thought it was better.  The legal fees to find out
who owns it might only amount to a few hundred or a few thousand dollars.
I'd be willing to put up 10 bucks.  How about you?