June 24, 2003
Getting access to a trade secret can not be an offence if it happens passively: imagine that you receive a letter in the mail containing a CD with the latest UnixWare source code. It can't be an offence to bcc ESR on your e-mail to Caldera on how they want to have the CD returned.
June 24, 2003
Yes, there are certainly circumstances where no problems would ensue. But there are others where it could. My point was and remains: don't step into a legal arena without checking with a lawyer and ideally having one to represent your interests. This isn't an area for amateurs.
The law is a difficult and very complex field. It is deceptively understandable, as SCO is demonstrating. You can think you are on solid ground, only to find out you are sinking in quicksand. So, to give legal advice when you aren't a lawyer is hazardous to those who follow your advice. Partly that is because it's not like math, where one and one is reliably two. In the law, it's more like chess. There are definite rules, but you still can't predict the outcome in every instance, because there are humans in the picture. Also, although lawyers speak English (in the US), the words don't always mean what they do in a nonlegal context. This can lead to real misundertandings. It's a kind of code. I personally would never sign anything that put me in the middle of a lawsuit without first speaking to my own lawyer, someone representing my interests. And I hope no one else does either.
Eric S. Raymond
July 22, 2003
Unless I completely misundestand the law, simply having had access to someone else's trade secret is never actionable. You have to have *conveyed access to someone else* before you're exposed. And yes, I checked with a lawyer.
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