Re: SPI Workshop/Brainstorming Session at Debconf

From: Ean Schuessler <ean(at)brainfood(dot)com>
To: Josip Rodin <joy(at)srce(dot)hr>
Cc: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org, spi-board(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: SPI Workshop/Brainstorming Session at Debconf
Date: 2003-07-25 01:12:20
Message-ID: 1059095539.13201.28.camel@sarge
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On Thu, 2003-07-24 at 16:53, Josip Rodin wrote:
> You make the whole thing sound really... wrong. I don't know how else to
> describe this attitude. We can evacuate purcel from Brainfood if you like,
> too. The only reason nobody suggested it before was because it wastes so
> little bandwidth it's not even remotely touching the limits of your T1.
> (FYI there are many places that would be happy to give us lots more bandwidth,
> and places with a much higher threshold of when money is mentioned.)

I have little doubt that MSU, ISC, HP or any number of donors with much
greater capacity than I have are available to help. But they would, as I
do, offer help purely because of SPI's association with Debian. If you
went to any of these donors and explained what you wanted for SPI your
conversation would immediately require that you explain that SPI is
essentially Debian. This, once again, only reinforces the point I am
trying to make but failing to communicate.

> But even if graydon being a Debian developer was the only reason for SPI to
> originally host Berlin (now Fresco), I don't see how this could be construed
> as something that needs the whole project's backing in any way (regardless
> of what you speculate courts will think). Fresco needs some resources, and
> it's SPI that's lending them a hand, not Debian. If it was Debian, it would
> be done on a machine.

Again, please, just because a resource isn't labeled *
doesn't mean that functionally it isn't a debian resource. Fresco is a
bad example because it doesn't pose much risk or draw much power. Here
is the kind of scenerio that needs to be contemplated:

- Among many new projects SPI picks up something peer-to-peer (ie.
Bittorrent) or something media oriented (ie. mplayer).
- Giant RIAA DMCA related legal behemoth decides to target this project.
- Finding no tangible corporation other than SPI associated with the
project the RIAA/DMCA entity files suit against SPI with various
confusing a baseless legal claims.
- We contact Chris Rourk, he agrees that the claims are bullshit and
consults with his superiors about how much he can help us.
- Chris finds that the RIAA/DMCA entity is some consortium of Phillips,
Sony, Time Warner and other similar clients, several of whom are major
cash cow customers of the firm and sadly explains his inability to
participate in our defence.
- Chris provides us with the names of several good lawyers who have low

So, here we have a few choices:

- Abandon the project to the wolves by capitulating the unreasonable
(but legally binding if we settle) terms of the evil consortium.
- Fight in court.

Both options suck. But let's say we stick to our guns and don't abandon
the project we have made commitments to. We must have money so we can:

- Get approval from Debian to spend the money, which would probably take
longer than the court case itself.
- Try to get by on the small amount of money officially assigned to SPI,
which means we would probably lose.
- Ignore the case and cross our fingers which would gaurantee that we

So, what if we lose? Well, the court might decide that we owe damages
and will come looking for money. The fact that some of the money is
"earmarked" for Debian will probably have little impact on what the
court demands that we pay. We will probably have to hand over the Debian
money or face additional charges for failing to comply with the court's
settlement. Does this begin to paint the picture?

Of course, if the settlement was really screwy and out of control then
we might end up owing considerably more money than we actually have. If
that happened then ALL of SPI's assets might be forfiet. Money,
copyrights and even TRADEMARKS and DOMAIN NAMES. Imagine the reaction of
the Debian community when they find that the Debian trademark and
domains have been lost because of some screwy SPI adventure they weren't
even aware of. I, personally, don't want that on my shoulders.

All of this could be painted as mad ravings, but I suggest you take a
look at the current legal climate out there. I don't think I'm off base.
These risks must be controlled or we are totally failing in our due

Ean Schuessler ean(at)brainfood(dot)com
Brainfood, Inc.


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