[Simh] ka655/ka655x + copyright/licensing issues

Peter Lund firefly at vax64.dk
Wed Aug 29 11:16:55 EDT 2007

On Wed, 2007-08-29 at 09:44 -0500, Vince Mulhollon wrote:

> Oh it'll be solved someday... heres the deal.

Depends on how long Disney exists to pay for lobbyists ;)

> The first vax was released on october 25 1977.
> Worst case is if the microcode we have was a later version after jan 1st

ka655x.bin is not microcode, it is VAX machine code.  It is still
firmware, though.

(simh does not contain an emulator on which the microcode can run -- and
microcode is extremely dependent on the microarchitectural details.  New
CPUs almost always require new microcode.)

> 1978, then as a corporate creation its copyrighted for 95 years from 
> publication or 120 years from creation whichever is shorter.  So, give 
> or take sometime around 2100, we're finally free, kind of like Mickey
> Mouse.
> Best case is if it were an original microcode from the original release
> and it did not have a copyright notice sticker or silk screen or note
> in the docs that it was copyrighted, then it simply isn't copyrighted 
> per the 1909 act and is already in the public domain, kind of like 
> old versions of IBM's MVS.

There was a similar case in the Intel vs. AMD battles, wasn't there?
I believe the situation is somewhat different: you still have (and Intel
still had) copyrights without the notice/silk screen but 1) the rights
they could defend were different and 2) it was judged that the CPU
layout and microcode was more or less covered by preexisting agreements
and licenses between Intel and AMD.

> Would you agree that American copyright law is pretty screwed up?

Absolutely.  They are a far cry from the lines Franklin (as a writer and
former printer's apprentice) got into the constitution:

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for
limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their
respective Writings and Discoveries."

This used to be interpreted as 14 (fourteen) years + a possible 14-year


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