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View Full Version : Why not open source Tapcis?


Ernsagala
June 10th, 2005, 03:51 PM
Theres nothing to lose since the CS doesnt seem to support Tapcis any longer. This might even allow open source developers to build a server to support Tapcis once agian.

Judy G. Russell
June 10th, 2005, 04:15 PM
I'll pass this on to the folks who own the property rights in Tapcis.

Lindsey
June 10th, 2005, 07:22 PM
Theres nothing to lose since the CS doesnt seem to support Tapcis any longer.
CompuServe never supported TAPCIS in the first place. It was always an independent product.

--Lindsey

davidh
June 12th, 2005, 08:52 AM
allow open source developers to build a server to support Tapcis once agian.

As I understand it, the ASCII and HMI protocols used on the server side belong to Compuserve. The chance that CS or whoever owns CS would ever allow anybody to use those protocols is vanishingly small, even if and when Classic CS finally closes down.

There are at least two excellent OLR's that I know of that have gone open source, namely Crosspoint and Virtual Access. These programs support offline reading of email and newsgroups (and various other protocols, depending...).

Unfortunately I suspect that further development of these programs is stagnating. One possible factor in this slowdown is probably the development of Mozilla and Thunderbird and other powerful email and newsreader programs, that are free, open source, and cross platform.

And also unfortunately, the newest programs seem to become ever fatter and fatter, need more memory and horsepower, need newer OS's, and become more complicated and easier to screw up :-(

David H.

Ernsagala
June 13th, 2005, 06:40 PM
It is generally accepted that formats, protocols or languages cannot be copyrighted. Only information, data communicated over languages can be copyrighted. For instance, if you invented a language, something like English, and then wrote a book in it, you could copyright the book, but you could not copyright the language and tell other people that they cannot write their own books in that language. There is a strong precedence of protocols being legally implemented open source by third parties, hence, Gaim which implements several proprietary communications protocols open source, including ones for AIM and Yahoo. This is generally accepted to be perfectly legal.

What could be copyrighted is the code that is used to implement a protocol. Gaim uses code that has been written indepedantly and released under open source licences to implement the communications protocols it supports. The protocols it supports were backwards engineered, this is where the communications between the client and server is observed to learn how the protocol works, and then write code to implement and test the protocol. It is generally accepted to be legal to write your own code to implement a protocol someone else created. If the code in TapCIS which is used to implement HMI came from Compuserve, we would have to get permission from Compuserve before any code they own can be released, unless they have already authorised such release. If the code was written by the TapCIS developers, then it would be legal for those developers to release the code. Please remember as well that it is generally accepted that someone who has access to that code legally using it to document HMI, and then realese the documentation of HMI which then could be used by others to create an independant open source implementation free of Compuserve code would be perfectly legal.

As I understand it, the ASCII and HMI protocols used on the server side belong to Compuserve. The chance that CS or whoever owns CS would ever allow anybody to use those protocols is vanishingly small, even if and when Classic CS finally closes down.

There are at least two excellent OLR's that I know of that have gone open source, namely Crosspoint and Virtual Access. These programs support offline reading of email and newsgroups (and various other protocols, depending...).

Unfortunately I suspect that further development of these programs is stagnating. One possible factor in this slowdown is probably the development of Mozilla and Thunderbird and other powerful email and newsreader programs, that are free, open source, and cross platform.

And also unfortunately, the newest programs seem to become ever fatter and fatter, need more memory and horsepower, need newer OS's, and become more complicated and easier to screw up :-(

David H.

Ernsagala
June 13th, 2005, 06:47 PM
CompuServe never supported TAPCIS in the first place. It was always an independent product.

--Lindsey


As long as there is no Compuserve code in TapCIS, then it would be perfectly legal for the owners of TapCIS to release the code under an open source licence.

Ernsagala
June 13th, 2005, 06:59 PM
Thank you. Perhaps there is a way to revive TapCIS still. I believe it would be legal for the owners to release it under an open source licence if it does not contain code written by Compuserve. I think if it does contain Compuserve source code, permission must be granted by Compuserve to release it. If the code was written independantly then it i am pretty sure it can be released legally without having to get permission from Compuserve.

I should clearly define what I mean by source code. This is the computer programming code the software is implemented in. This is different from the communications protocols used by TapCIS to communicate with Compuserve like HMI which cannot be copyrighted. Protocols, languages, formats, etc, cannot be copyrighted, it is generally agreed. See my other post in this thread about this.

davidh
June 13th, 2005, 10:47 PM
I know little about IP law. But I suspect that the issues of copyrighting and/or patenting protocols may be more complex that it might appear at first glance.

However, I believe that even the question of copyrightabliity or no, is probably a moot point since the developers of TAPCIS and OZWIN etc. had to sign non-disclosure agreements with CS.

I actually had a prototype of TAPCIS running as a mail reader agent/application with a third party mail transport agent/application for the receive (not send) email side. The send side is more difficult to implement, but probably could be done with a reasonable amount of work using the TAPNET addon to TAPCIS as a "go by". This could be done with absolutely no TAPCIS source code at all.

The problem would be to find some volunteers to write the documentation and do the testing, even if one could find a programmer to do the work. And even assuming all that gets done, there would still be the problem of adding support for such things as HTML and SSL authentication and NNTP protocol, etc., etc.

Even though I miss using TAPCIS a lot, I just don't see the future payback ever materializing for all the effort required. However, if anyone is still interested in this, I would suggest contacting the people at the AVSIG forum on the Internet. Somebody there made an addon to TAPCIS that allows it (TAPUBB) to function as an OLR for the AVSIG forum.

I've wasted enough time playing with different email programs, that I'm getting tired of it even tho' still somewhat addicted. So at least at a minimum I want to limit my interest to those programs that support a widely used mailbox format such as MBOX to ease backup and migration of message files. I would think that a freeware or GPL utility to convert between MBOX and TAPCIS MSG format would fine wider and longer lasting use.

David H.


David H.

Mike
June 14th, 2005, 04:44 PM
What could be copyrighted is the code that is used to implement a protocol. [...]If the code in TapCIS which is used to implement HMI came from Compuserve, we would have to get permission from Compuserve before any code they own can be released, unless they have already authorised such release.
Bingo. CompuServe provided an object library (not source code) to those implementing HMI clients. CompuServe has never provided source code.

Please remember as well that it is generally accepted that someone who has access to that code legally using it to document HMI, and then realese the documentation of HMI which then could be used by others to create an independant open source implementation free of Compuserve code would be perfectly legal.
However, CompuServe would have every right to require everyone to whom that code was released to sign a non-disclosure agreement, in which case it would not be legal for someone to use that code to write a specification for HMI.

The latter point is moot, however, because CompuServe never released any source code. It also required developers to agree not to provide the object libraries to anyone except as linked into the products, under specific conditions.

Lindsey
June 14th, 2005, 11:53 PM
As long as there is no Compuserve code in TapCIS, then it would be perfectly legal for the owners of TapCIS to release the code under an open source licence.
I was only correcting what I thought was a mistaken impression in your initial statement.

Beyond that, I would not venture to speak for the owners of the TAPCIS code.

--Lindsey

Ernsagala
June 15th, 2005, 11:52 AM
Bingo. CompuServe provided an object library (not source code) to those implementing HMI clients. CompuServe has never provided source code.


However, CompuServe would have every right to require everyone to whom that code was released to sign a non-disclosure agreement, in which case it would not be legal for someone to use that code to write a specification for HMI.

The latter point is moot, however, because CompuServe never released any source code. It also required developers to agree not to provide the object libraries to anyone except as linked into the products, under specific conditions.


Yes, I certianly agree. You are correct. If there were non-disciosure agreements signed, that could be an issue, if they are still in force. I dont know anything about the particulars in the situation or much about the law in that case, so I cannot say. Its possible that the parts of TapCIS that do not contain Compuserve code could be released if its owners chose to do so, but this is speculation since I dont know the particulars of the any agreements.