3.83 the look-and-feel copyright (67)

Thu, 1 Jun 89 08:15:08 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 83. Thursday, 1 Jun 1989.

Date: Tue, 30 May 89 20:41 EDT
From: Joe Giampapa <GIAMPAPA@brandeis.bitnet>
Subject: protest against "look and feel" copyright

[excerpted from the CPSR/Boston June '89 newsletter]

Programmers and Users
Picket Lotus

CAMBRIDGE, MA, May 24, 1989 # Chanting anti-litigation slogans, a group of
almost 200 computer-science professors and students, software developers, and
users, under the League for Programming Freedom banner, picketed Lotus
Development Corporation headquarters here today.

The demonstration was called to protest lawsuits by Lotus, Apple, and
Ashton-Tate, which "threaten to kill the growth of the software industry by
trying to create a new kind of legal monopoly: copyright on the `look and
feel' of user interfaces," said protest organizer Richard Stallman, a legendary
computer hacker and developer of EMACS, a widely used and imitated programming

Marching from MIT to Lotus, the group chanted, "Put your lawyers in their
place; no one owns the interface;" "Hey, hey, ho, ho, software tyranny has got
to go;" and "1-2-3-4, toss the lawyers out the door; 5-6-7-8, innovate don't
litigate; 9-A-B-C, 1-2-3 is not for me; D-E-F-O, look and feel have got to go"
" the first hexadecimal protest chant " and carried protest signs: "Don't make
me wear your suit!" (showing a person in a straightjacket), "Drop the suit,
we've got you surrounded," "Creative companies don't need to sue," and #Oh no!
Look and feel copyright!" accompanied by a reproduction of the painting, "The
Scream," by Muench).

The group also distributed leaflets to Lotus employees and others, urging them
to boycott products from Lotus, Apple, and Ashton-Tate and refuse to work for
these companies.

The demonstration was backed by three prominent MIT computer scientists: AI
Lab founder Marvin Minsky, AI Lab head Patrick Winston, and professor of
electrical engineering Gerald J. Sussman; Stallman, and Guy Steele, author of
the book Common Lisp, the standard for the Lisp language, and co-author of C, A
Reference Manual. Also present at the demonstration was Bryan Kocher,
President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a professional
organization of computer scientists and programmers.

The protests were directed against Lotus, which has sued Paperback Software and
Mosiac [sic - does anyone know for sure whether it's really Mosaic?];
Apple Computer, which has sued Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard; and
Ashton-Tate, which has sued Fox Software and is extending its claims to a
computer programming language, Dbase. According to Stallman, "If these
companies are permitted to make law through the courts, the precedent will
hobble the software industry. Software will become more expensive. Users will
be `locked in' to proprietary interfaces for which there is no real
competition, or be encumbered with incompatible new interfaces."

Stallman said the League for Programming Freedom is developing a national
organization and is looking for volunteer officers. It also plans future
protests and lobbying efforts. For further information, write: Richard
Stallman, League for Programming Freedom, 545 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA