1994-02-14 - Re: Precedent for PGP legality

Header Data

From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
To: MIKEINGLE@delphi.com (Mike Ingle)
Message Hash: 18b714198cd16da01b60a16d131b62dc26b8393b483b27cf3e7c21fad6652fa3
Message ID: <199402141739.JAA06467@mail.netcom.com>
Reply To: <01H8V5JH4BG29JDWG9@delphi.com>
UTC Datetime: 1994-02-14 17:41:28 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 14 Feb 94 09:41:28 PST

Raw message

From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 94 09:41:28 PST
To: MIKEINGLE@delphi.com (Mike Ingle)
Subject: Re: Precedent for PGP legality
In-Reply-To: <01H8V5JH4BG29JDWG9@delphi.com>
Message-ID: <199402141739.JAA06467@mail.netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Mike Ingle (whose post I am replying to) or Charles Johnston (whose
name was included at the bottom of the post) writes:

> like alive. This is a court decision that found the construction of a
> patented device for nonprofit purposes is not an infringement.

> This seems to say that PGP is okay to use!  I would appreciate
> ANY comments!  I will be researching this further REALLY soon!

Yes, this is well-known and is mentioned, I believe, in the PGP docs.
Private use for experimental purposes, or for the purposes of
improving an invention, are recognized legit uses. Implementing RSA as
a class project or textbook problem is common, and RSADSI will not
bother with such cases. (Nor has RSADSI bothered any users of PGP, if
truth be told, unless they were involved in the hassling of Zimmermann
vis-a-vis the grand jury investigation...which hasn't been established
one way or another.)

Where it gets dicey is when people are using an invention in a way
that circumvents the patent rights of the inventor. The common use of
PGP is clearly for communication, for most people, not for study on
their home machines of how the algorithm works, how it might be
improved, etc.

I'm not arguing RSADSI's side, merely pointing out that calling the
growing use of PGP for communication and the signing of articles an
"experiment" is misleading, and even disingenuous. Not to sound like
Sterno here, but I think the lawyers here will back me up on this.

Now maybe the RSA patents are invalid, maybe the fact that public
money was used to support the researches at Stanford and MIT that led
to public key and RSA means "we" own the patents (not supported by
decisions, though), etc. 

In any case, I think PGP is the best thing that has ever happened to
the popularity of RSA and RSADSI, and I have told Jim Bidzos this.

> By the way, when was the RSA patent granted?  They only last
> 17 years!
> Charles Johnston

The "cloud" of P-K and RSA patents begins to expire in 1997 or 1998
and the last of the original five expires in 2002. The five patents
have been listed several times here and many times in sci.crypt, so
watch that space for details--or rummage through your archived mail.

RSADSI has tried to ensure its future licensing revenue stream by
acquiring other patents. It recently bought the "Schnorr" patent,
which apparently covers the DSS/DSA digital signature algorithm. This
patent will run until 2010 or later, I gather.

--Tim May

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
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