[linux-elitists] (forw) Clarification about Tripwire copyright, please

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Wed Sep 6 23:07:30 PDT 2000

Round n+1.

----- Forwarded message from rick -----

Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2000 23:02:40 -0700
To: cperez@tripwire.com
Subject: Clarification about Tripwire copyright, please

Dear Mr. Perez:

Thank you for your ongoing help in representing Tripwire, Inc., and 
my congratulations to Tripwire on its progress in moving the release
program forward.  I still have a question for you.

Some months back, I wrote you to ask whether Tripwire, Inc. had acquired
copyright title to the Tripwire source codebase, given that every
on-line information source findable states that (1) Purdue Research 
Foundation holds the basic copyright, and (2) Tripwire, Inc. makes its
versions available through "exclusive license" from Purdue Research
Foundation.  At the time, you said (approximately) "Yes", without 

In the current Tripwire ASR (v. 1.3.1), the "NEWS" file includes a
12/1997 letter from Gene Spafford, writing on behalf of COAST (at
Purdue), saying that "Tripwire Security Systems acquired the license for
our Tripwire change/intrusion detection system....  Please also note
that Tripwire is a registered trademark of the Purdue Research
Foundation, and it is also licensed to TSS."  Note:  licence, not 
copyright transfer.

The same file includes a 3/1998 letter from Spafford, saying on behalf of
COAST that "As you may know, Purdue University has elected to transfer
management and product responsibility for the Tripwire security system
to its co-developer Mr.  Gene Kim and his firm Tripwire Security
Systems."  Accompanying this and referencing it is a 3/1998 letter from
W. Wyatt Starnes, President of TSS (which is now Tripwire, Inc., and was
previously Visual Computing Corp.) stating "As President of Tripwire
Security Systems, I am pleased to announce our acquisition of exclusive
worldwide rights of Tripwire...."

I note two points:

(1) Nowhere have I found any reference to a transfer of copyright.
_Every_ reference mentions Visual Computing / TSS / Tripwire, Inc.
acquiring a commercial-usage _licence_ from Purdue Research Foundation,
with the latter continuing to hold copyright title.

(2) Mr. Starnes's assertion about "exclusive worldwide rights" is 
strongly at odds with Spafford's characterisation.

Thus, one strongly suspects that Purdue Research Foundation still owns  
Tripwire's basic copyright, and that various people have simply mistaken
the 12/1997 licence or 3/1998 agency relationship for a copyright
transfer.  Would you please re-verify your earlier assertion?  Your
quoting any letter or other document from Purdue Research Foundation
that mentions Tripwire copyright transfer (or citing such a document's
URL) would do nicely.

I am not asking out of idle curiosity, much less to cause any trouble to 
Tripwire, Inc.:  The point is that _only_ a codebase's copyright holder
can legally re-licence it, and that the old licence terms are not
GPL-compatible.  I believe it's in Tripwire, Inc.'s interest to verify
its copyright title, and reasonable for the open source community to
request that precaution before they participate.

Thank you for your time and trouble.

Best Regards,
Rick Moen

----- End forwarded message -----

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