[Mono-devel-list] (Il)legal code check-ins

Ben Maurer bmaurer at users.sourceforge.net
Wed Feb 4 16:49:07 EST 2004

Under this goes looking at the MS documentation and creating an
implementation compliant with theirs. The only information that is
copyrighted in the documentation is the words themselves. So, it is *ok*
to take the *facts* out of a document, but not ok to take the *words*

A real life example of the above is using a newspaper article for a
paper. There are three things you could do:

1) Make a reference to a fact in the article ("50 people were killed by
a bomer attack in Russia on July 15th"). Legally, you do not need to do
anything else. Obviously, good academic standards require that you cite
your source.

2) Take a small quote from the article ("`Officials said that 50 people
were killed in today's attack," said the July 15th edition of the New
York Times). Again, you need to nothing else. This falls under Fair Use.
(google that term).

3) Quoting a large portion of the article. This is not allowed. The text
of the article is likely copyrighted, and you cannot copy it word for

The line between 1 and 2 is pretty clear, but 2 and 3 is fuzzy.

So, some Mono connections. The following would be ok:

// (This comment is OK because of 1 above)
// According to the MS documentation, this foos
void Foo () {
    // `Foo throws an exception if Bar is ture' (although
    // this is a direct quote, it falls under fair use).

    if (bar) throw new Exception ();

However, it would *not* be ok, to copy lots of documentation word for
word. For example, copying the entire `remarks' section for a method
would not be ok.

Testing how a progam works in different conditions is OK. The code in
the MS.net implementation is copyrighted. So, the only restriction is
that you may not copy the *TEXT* of the code (or disassembled code).
Legally, it is ok to look at disassembled code, however we stay away
from it for two reasons: first, it restricts the creativity in our
implementation, secondly by not looking at the code we prevent the
argument that we are infact copying code.

However, testing what a method returns is absolutely OK.

I hope this clears things up.

-- Ben 

On Wed, 2004-02-04 at 14:41, Christian Birkl wrote:
> Hi all,
> when is it "illegal" (sorry, can't find any better word) to check-in
> code to mono? I'm sure about some points, like if i decompile Microsoft
> assemblies and use the generated code as base of the new code, but what
> about using MSDN documentation and such stuff? Or how about testing what
> a method returns and how it behavious with different parameters? When
> will (exactly) i'm not be allowed to contribute code?
> Regards,
> 	Christian
> _______________________________________________
> Mono-devel-list mailing list
> Mono-devel-list at lists.ximian.com
> http://lists.ximian.com/mailman/listinfo/mono-devel-list

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