OpenVMS Community License

Bill Gunshannon bill.gunshannon at
Wed Jul 29 13:27:41 CDT 2020

On 7/29/20 2:01 PM, Antonio Carlini via cctalk wrote:
> On 29/07/2020 15:21, Bill Gunshannon via cctalk wrote:
>> It also only covered SIMH until Bob Supnik left DEC.
>> "MENTEC grants to CUSTOMER a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free
>> license under MENTEC's INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS to use and copy
>> the SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGY solely for personal, non-commercial uses in
>> conjunction with the EMULATOR."
>> Note that EMULATOR is highlighted with capitalization.
>> " EMULATOR shall mean software owned by Digital Equipment Corporation
>> that emulates the operation of a PDP-11 processor and allows PDP-11
>> programs and operating systems to run on non-PDP-11 systems. "
>> Here it is defined.  "owned by Digital Equipment Corporation".
>> That condition ceased to exist when Bob left DEC and DEC allowed
>> him to take SIMH with him.
> Why? I can't find (after several minutes of searching) exactly what 
> happened when Bob Supnik left DEC.
> Did DEC give him the software or did DEC release it under the "modified 
> X-Windows " licence? If the latter,
> then DEC continued to own it and the PDP-11 release continue to be legal 
> to run under SIMH.

DEC gave it to Bob Supnik as he had been the one who created it,
developed it and maintained it.  I don't believe they ever had any
interest in it and it was only theirs because Bob had done it
while in their employ.  When he left they  had no interest in it
and let him take it with him.  A quick glance at the source will
show no DEC Copyrights and Bob's from 1993 onward.
>> This is plain English.  One does not need to be a lawyer to see
>> what it actually says.  They were very explicit in their wording.
> One *always* needs a lawyer! They were clear, although they don't seem 
> to have said *which* DEC-owned emulator.

You were free to use any.  As it turns out, there was only one.

> I just don't see that you can immediately dismiss the possibility that 
> DEC still owned the software.

That question was asked and answered decades ago.  Might be able to
still find something on the web, but the notion that the web keeps
things around forever is facetious at best.

> DEC certainly permissively licensed other code. The OpenVMS BLISS 
> compiler was released on the Freeware CD, but I bet DEC still thought 
> they owned it.

The history of SIMH has never been in question.  Except by people
trying to rationalize using DEC's (and later Mentec's) IP without
permission.  Some things never change.


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