Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Chip Maker Gets $35 Million Judgment

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the levels-of-hurt-i-don't-want-to-think-about dept.

The Courts 88

Neoflexycurrent writes "The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a $35 million judgment against Clear Logic for violation of the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984. The court concluded that the jury properly rejected Clear Logic's argument that it had legitimately reverse engineered Plaintiff Altera Corporation's mask work design to create cheaper application-specific integrated circuits."

cancel ×

88 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Any hot guys here? (1)

AssCork (769414) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615553)

Just kidding - of course there aren't!

Fuckin nerds.

Re:Any hot guys here? (-1, Offtopic)

daniil (775990) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615587)

My mom says I'm good-looking.

Re:Any hot guys here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13616168)

It's a shame even your mom has to lie to you.

Re:Any hot guys here? (1)

heauxmeaux (869966) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615638)

Perhaps you should subscribe to 'Inches' magazine?

Re:Any hot guys here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615858)

Perhaps you should subscribe to 'Inches' magazine?

'Millimeters' in his case.

in (somewhat) plainer english (5, Informative)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615556)

Altera makes chips that can be programmed to do different things (FPGAs).

Clear Logic made "application specific integrated circuits" - ie they only do one specific thing that the customer needs, but are cheaper than programmable chips if you buy enough.

The issue here is that Clear Logic's mechanism for receiving the design from the customer and making it into a chip is to use the programming data (bitstream) for an Altera chip. Then the data is used together with an image (mask) copied from an Altera chip to create the ASIC.

The ruling is that Clear Logic's use of the mask in building the ASIC is not legitimate reverse engineering, but illegal re-use of Altera's IP.

FYI: Clear Logic [clear-logic.com] seems to have been dead since 2003.

editorial: only $35M?

Re:in (somewhat) plainer english (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615594)

Thanks. I was wondering what the hell all this meant.

Re:in (somewhat) plainer english (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615618)

Lynn-ucks likes teh butt seks.

A question: (4, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615728)

Did Clear Logic:
  1) just reverse engineer the masks of the FPGA to figure out how to decode the programming stream and automatically make an ASIC with the same functionality, or
  2) actually clone significant sections of one or more of the FPGA masks themselves into the mask geometry generation step for the automatic ASIC design process, so that the geometry of the FPGA mask is reproduced (perhaps with edits, such as jumpers where programmable transistors would be) in the masks for the ASIC?

If 1), IMHO they were blameless. If 2), IMHO the jury called it correctly.

Re:A question: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615830)

Jabbar Gibson for New Orleans Mayor!

Jar-Jar Binks for New Orleans Mayor!

Jabbar vs. Jar-Jar (-1, Offtopic)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616006)

Jabbar Gibson for New Orleans Mayor!

Jar-Jar Binks for New Orleans Mayor!


B-)

But while Jar-Jar saved more people, Jabbar evacuated non-fictional people from a non-fictional disaster. And did it in New Orleans rather than long ago in a galaxy far away.

Also: Jar-Jar has already been raised to high office for his heroism. Last I heard Jabar is still a random-citizen refugee who has received only his 15 seconds of fame.

Since Jabbar did what the mayor SHOULD have done, did it decicively, in a timely fashion, and got it right, Mayor of New Orleans seems like a good office for him. B-)

Re:Jabbar vs. Jar-Jar (-1, Offtopic)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616173)

Jar Jar was one of the key players in Palpatine's rise to power (remember who it was who originally gave him emergency powers) and is thus inderectly responsible for all those killed due to Imperial rule, which, of course, includes the entire population of Alderaan, as well as countless others. Don't be too quick to praise him.

Re:Jabbar vs. Jar-Jar (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 8 years ago | (#13617675)

Jar Jar was one of the key players in Palpatine's rise to power ... and is thus inderectly responsible for all those killed due to Imperial rule, which, of course, includes the entire population of Alderaan, as well as countless others.

It would be hard for Jabbar to do worse than that. B-)

Re:A question: (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616178)

Even (1) is probably a violation of something because the Altera synthesis tools, and their output, are likely licensed only to be used for Altera FPGAs. The customer does not buy the tool, he only buys a license.

This does make sense because investment in R&D of the tools is extreme. But Altera had to do it because otherwise its FPGAs would be useless. However Altera does not want to support freeloaders who use the tools to program something else.

Because of that, in your case #1 the reverse engineering of the mask interconnects would be legal, however generation of a bitstream for it (or any other configuration data) using Altera tools would be illegal.

Re:A question: (1)

runderwo (609077) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616885)

Even (1) is probably a violation of something because the Altera synthesis tools, and their output, are likely licensed only to be used for Altera FPGAs. The customer does not buy the tool, he only buys a license.
So what? Then the customer is the one that should be sued, not ClearLogic; ClearLogic did not violate the EULA or in fact make any agreement at all with Altera. Altera just didn't like the competition, that's all, and decided to run a smaller company into the ground before they could take root.

Bitstream (1)

lamber45 (658956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13618421)

ClearLogic probably did agree to the EULA if they were using the bitstream — they had to obtain a copy of the design-software in order to reverse-engineer the meaning of the bitstream. I'm not sure how relevant that is from the state-law perspective. Then again, Altera does have a lot of information on their website [altera.com] ; they have a legal notice [altera.com] posted, but I doubt it's very binding, since it talks about files "on this CD' and isn't a click-through prerequisite to seeing all the data-sheets and manuals.

I wonder, though... if ClearLogic had worked only from data-sheets, and not examined the chips at all, would this decision still have applied to them? Were they copying things like the distance between different functional units, or just the pinout and the logical structure of the chip?

It looks like even the ClearLogic domain name (formerly www.clear-logic.com) is gone. Too bad...

Re:A question: Did Clear Logic use Altera Masks ? (5, Informative)

dougxray (916546) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616384)

NO !!!!
I worked for Clear Logic from its begining to its end (we ran out of money paying lawyers). We never used any Altera masks ever. We spent a significant amount of time reverse engineering the masks so we would be legal. I believe the judge never understood this.

Re:A question: (1)

erice (13380) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616422)

None of the above.

As I understand it, Clear Logic reverse engineered the bitstream format, allowing them to retarget the placed, routed, FPGA design to an ASIC.

Altera has their own ASIC conversion business. I'm sure they would rather not have Clear Logic poaching their FPGA customers.

To put it in software-speak: It is as if Microsoft created a compiler that produces object code in a trade secret format that can only be decoded and run under Windows. Then another company reverse engineers the object code format and produces a translater allowing the code to run under Wine.

Re:A question: (2, Informative)

Mauz (869660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616830)

If I recall correctly, Clear Logic didn't create custom masks for each ASIC, but programmed their sea-of-gates chips by blowing metal fuses with a laser. However, as already pointed out, they did use Altera's files to create their laser program and that is what sunk their ship.

Altera Mask Set (2, Informative)

phriedom (561200) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615800)

I don't understand how Clear Logic would legally get ahold of an Altera chip mask set. But it seems pretty clear to me that if they are modifying Altera artwork, then they are not reverse-engineering, they are making a derivative work. Looks like the judgement is correct.

Re:Altera Mask Set (4, Informative)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616073)

Circuit masks [copyright.gov] are very specifically called out as a special case in copyright law.

It seems like the distinction is similar to music recordings. That copying the majority of an audio recording, with a few tweaks of your own, is considered infringement. While the "underlying ideas" are not necessarily protected, eg. so you could play the exact same notes with very similar timings again on your own instrument, and that would not be considered to be a copyright violation. (eg. they could have reverse engineered the logic of the circuit and re-generated their own, different, layout)

Re:Altera Mask Set (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13617380)

[...] and re-generated their own, different, layout

It does not have to be different. If they had one team do a "clean room" implementation from documentation of the functions and not the masks themselves that another team provided, they may produce similar (or even the same) layouts, while still beeing legally permissible as reverse engineering. Compaq used this approach to make the first IBM PC clone bios, and they had the proper documentation to prove it.

Re:Altera Mask Set (2, Insightful)

phriedom (561200) | more than 8 years ago | (#13617402)

So to extend the metaphor, did they A)figure out what the notes were and replay them or B) sample the original.

If it is as dougxray asserts above and they never touched or saw an Altera mask, then it is A and I have to reverse my opinion. Setting the music metaphor aside, if they figured out what the mask has to look like given the verilog code as an in and the resulting data as an out, then that sounds like a clean reverse-engineering. And making a derivative customization of your own workalike mask using the verilog input is just plain clever.

Re:in (somewhat) plainer english (1)

ngsayjoe (743136) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615806)

Thanks for the clarification. But what's the main benefit for Clear Logic of doing such a thing?

Re:in (somewhat) plainer english (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615827)

Faster development time for each client's ASIC, no need to write their own clients chip design tool, and client's testing on FPGAs work the same as the delivered ASIC, would be my guess.

Clear Logic DID NOT use Altera masks ! (1)

dougxray (916546) | more than 8 years ago | (#13617302)

I worked for Clear Logic from its begining to its end (we ran out of money paying lawyers). Clear Logic never used any Altera masks ever in any way. To the contrary, Clear Logic spent a significant amount of time reverse engineering Altera parts, specifically to avoid the very law suit Altera brought against Clear Logic. Its not about the law, its not about justice, its about money. Altera had alot more of that than Clear Logic did.

Non-Protectible (4, Insightful)

Krast0r (843081) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615566)

"The trial court's instructions initially defined "legitimate reverse engineering" to allow copying and analyzing only "non-protectible concepts or techniques" embodied in a mask work." It would seem that nothing these days is "non-protectible" if RIAA, MPPA or SCO have anything to say about it.

Re:Non-Protectible (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615934)

It would seem that nothing these days is "non-protectible" if RIAA, MPPA or SCO have anything to say about it.

Well, first of all, the SCO issue is completely different. IBM isn't arguing that their copying was protected. Their arguign that no copying happened in the first place.

Second of fall, an MPAA representative has stated (though this may have been a case of 'foot in mouth') that there are legitimate fair use rights for copying music CDs, no doubt the RIAA's chagrin. (sorry, can't find the quote off hand, but it came up in a Slashdot post a while back).

Which Chips? (1, Insightful)

Cyclotron_Boy (708254) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615580)

Altera [alter.com] makes some OK FPGAs, custom ASICs, and PAL-type chips, but I wonder which chips specifically they are talking about. Reverse-engineering a custom ASIC seems quite suspect indeed...

Mod parent down - bad link (2, Informative)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615733)

Correct link is http://altera.com/ [altera.com]

Re:Which Chips? (2, Informative)

lixee (863589) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615743)

Custom ASIC? Pleonasm.

Re:Which Chips? (2, Informative)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615745)

I'm guessing taking FPGA code and producing a dedicated ASIC.

Imagine someone buying one Altera eval board (given away if your company is big enough), designing code, getting the timing all worked out, putting it in a board and then going through all the testing. Voila, working product. Only problem? That FPGA is expensive.

So, enter clear logic, they'll copy Altera's mask and subtract all the bits that aren't needed. They'll guarantee identical timing, just lower cost and power. Altera is thus shafted out of a sales they need.

I didn't RTFA, I could be wrong. I only read the comments to see if someone on the inside was posting ;)

Re:Which Chips? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13616041)

I don't see how you can get cheaper silicon if you're actually using someone else's mask data - that mask data would constrain you to the same floorplan/device placement as the FPGA. I.E.: Expensive Silicon.
Perhaps their usage of the (metal?) mask simply allowed them to reverse the actual transistor connectivity. I doubt they were using the actual mask data in their wafer fab?

Re:Which Chips? (1)

HWguy (147772) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616118)

Probably isn't mask data but a bit pattern which configures the FPGA. This bit pattern could be used to configure an ASIC.

When I used to use FPGAs and PALs we were often interested in the very low level configuration of these devices with our programming (for speed or other logic optimization). I wonder if this ruling would affect customer use of that information.

Re:Which Chips? (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616204)

Again, guessing, I think using their mask data they can get accurate timing (from the connectivity), get logic from the bitstream, and can guarantee that the end result ASIC matches the Altera FPGA. They probably feel this isn't illegal because they have to do so much new work (floorplanning and qualifying a new ASIC basically) and are only using Altera's mask as a reference.

Certainly the value of FPGAs as ASIC prototyping tools is high. Bridging that gap in a suit friendly way is worth some money. However by using their mask one can argue they are using the IP of a competitor to help themselves.

If I took the gerbers from a board at the company I work for, and started a new company that built a competing product cheaper, using only the timing & loss characteristics of the existing gerbers, someone would probably call foul. Now if I went and took apart their PCBs layer by later and measured each trace, that'd probably be ok.

I finally RTFA but it's not any more clear now. On one hand there was something about reversing the bitstream, on the other hand there was this mask issue. I'd be annoyed if reversing the bitstream is actually what the courts objected to, it seems like using the mask is really the problem, but even then given sloppy tech journalism I'm not sure what "using the mask" really meant.

And we care because? (-1, Troll)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615582)

Seriously, why does this matter?

Re:And we care because? (5, Funny)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615675)

Gee, news involving chip manufacturers and the processes used to make chips from designs USED to be news that mattered to real nerds. Perhaps there are none left here?

Maybe you'd like another article about global warming or the Iraq war?

Re:And we care because? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615782)

Nope this is an apple fanboy site now. Booyah!

Re:And we care because? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615797)

Why the fuck is this modded funny? Are the mods in denial of the truth?

Re:And we care because? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615821)

Maybe you'd like another article about global warming or the Iraq war?

There are still plenty of Google articles! Nerds like Google, right?

...right?
=Smidge=

Re:And we care because? (1, Flamebait)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615884)

yeah, there's a decreasing interest in how things actually work or are made or are done these days, very disturbing. I daresay, sadly, that some of the New Orleans victims are dead because of such ignorance.

Re:And we care because? (1)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 8 years ago | (#13617493)

If some people in the Federal government knew how leeves worked, and thus why they need to be maintained, and didn't cut the funding, a lot of what happened in New Orleans wouldn't have happened and there would've been a lot less victims.

Of course, having a horse trainer in charge of FEMA didn't help matters any.

This is news about a lawsuit. (1)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616797)

This isn't an article about some groundbreaking new discovery that's going to revolutionize the computer industry, or even change it slightly (like the thing on photon clocking the other day) It's a story about one company winning a lawsuit it had with another company that hasn't even been in business for two years. Seriously, who the hell cares? What do you know about CPU design that you didn't know before this article? Seriously, you're talking to someone who's used Altera's software and hardware to code FPGAs.

Re:This is news about a lawsuit. (2, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#13618302)

It's the precedent. It's that using one company's format and such to spec out business for another company can be considered illegal. The particular companies themeslves aren't interesting.

Seriously, outside of the court cases, who the hell ever heard of Roe (well, the actual person anyway) of Roe v Wade fame, or Brown of Brown v. Board of Education.

Re:This is news about a lawsuit. (1)

thirdrock (460992) | more than 8 years ago | (#13619448)

autopr0n is like, down and stuff

Yeah, whats up with that?

Article text - +5 Informative (and question) (4, Informative)

scovetta (632629) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615612)

Ninth Circuit affirms $35 million judgment against semiconductor manufacturer

Case is rare appellate decision under Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984

Altera Corporation filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Clear Logic, Inc., a competitor in the semiconductor industry. Altera alleged that Clear Logic had violated the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984, 17 U.S.C. 901 et seq. ("SCPA"), by using the bitstream generated when programming Altera programmable logic devices to create application-specific integrated circuits. A jury found in favor of Altera, and awarded more than $30 million in damages, plus an additional $5 million in interest and costs.

Clear Logic appealed to the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the trial court improperly instructed the jury regarding the affirmative defense of legitimate reverse engineering, which is provided for under the SCPA. The court affirmed, however, holding that certain misstatements of the law in the jury instructions were harmless error.

The trial court's instructions initially defined "legitimate reverse engineering" to allow copying and analyzing only "non-protectible concepts or techniques" embodied in a mask work. This was an incorrect statement of the law, but the court concluded that further instructions adequately provided correction. The later instructions explained that "it is permissible [under the SCPA] to reproduce 'a registered mask work' as a step in the process of creating an original chip, so long as the purpose of reproducing the chip is appropriate."

Accordingly, the court held that the jury was able to properly conclude that the Clear Logic mask works incorporated into the application-specific integrated circuits were not original, but were copies prohibited under the SCPA.

---
And my question is: What the hell is a "mask"? Can someone please post the Wikipedia entry that will explain all the background information I need to know on the subject? It looks to me like a run of the mill, "he copied me" case. Why is this news?

'Mask' in this context (4, Informative)

Colonel Panic (15235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615672)

The 'mask' in this context can be thought of as a set of transparancies with lines on them that define wires on the chip. Chips are made with a photo-lithography process where light is shined onto silicon through a mask. The lines on the mask block the light from hitting the silicon and depending on the process the areas which are exposed on the silicon will be etched away by acids/solvents. Multiple masks are used to create different features/layers on the silicon. some create wires, others create transistors.

Re:'Mask' in this context (1)

scovetta (632629) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615696)

Awesome, the article makes more sense now. Thanks buddy!

Re:'Mask' in this context (4, Informative)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615722)

JFYI, here's the relevant Wikipedia article, too: Photomask [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Article text - +5 Informative (and question) (2, Informative)

adisakp (705706) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615766)

The mask is like a "negative" for a film. You can think of the chip as the silicon equivalent to the paper used when projecting a film negative onto a photograph.

In this case, the mask was probably used as a starting point -- FPGA's (Field Programmable Gate Array) have switches that control gates for interconnects between logic units and PGA's have little fuses that control the interconnects. They minimally need to know the logic units used and how the interconnects connect them which they could reverse engineer from examination of the mask to determine the gates.

One way to do this is to start with the mask, and create an ASIC with interconnects already in place for the equivalent of a PGA (Programmable Gate Array) without the "P" part. This would still be a "Gate Array" logic part based on the design of the MASK they used but the interconnects would be fixed at the chip creation. This would be about as legal as copying the entire music to a song and replacing the words without paying the songwriter.

Another way to do this is to create the gates and interconnects as a logical entity (i.e. verilog or other definition language) from the reverse engineering of the mask, then fix variables in the logical entity as constants from the programming data and "simplify" or "reduce" the circuit prior to generation of a custom ASIC.

Re:Article text - +5 Informative (and question) (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615944)

Others have answered your question, but I would like to take the opportunity to recommend `Inside Intel,' a biography of one of Intel's founders. The book covers the history of Intel and AMD (up to 1997 when it was written) and includes a lot of history of chip development techniques as well as how the current IC market evolved. Not quite news for nerds in its purest form, but worth reading anyway - and you can probably pick up a copy quite cheaply (mine cost £3 from a bargain book shop).

Gee, What a Surprise - 9th Circuit (0, Troll)

MikeyTheK (873329) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615621)

So here we have the 9th Circuit - yes, that 9th Circuit, making it up as it goes. If any of you have been following this, you might ask "How the heck was adequate correction provided to the jury, when the initial instructions regarding reverse engineering were wrong, and the later, more general instructions, were proper?". I have no idea. The part of the instructions that specifically deal with the issue at hand which were wrong seem to clearly specify the action the jury should take.
It's like having the regular print in a license agreement say one thing, and way later in the document have it say something else, but in a very general, nondescript way.
Welcome to the 9th. Does anybody know if they are still the most overturned Circuit?

Re:Gee, What a Surprise - 9th Circuit (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615682)


You don't know what you are talking about, but your panties are in SUCH a bundle about the 9th Circuit [Court of Appeals] that you just HAD to post so that you could slam them even if you didn't know if it was appropriate to this case or not.

Which means I hope your post hits -1 real soon (moderators, please take note).

Re:Gee, What a Surprise - 9th Circuit (1)

MikeyTheK (873329) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615742)

What?
1) Read original decision
2) Read relevant portion of statute
3) Read jury instructions
4) Read 9th Circuit decision
5)THEN tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. This decision is important in that it has implications far outside of chipmaking, especially in the 9th Circuit. If you need me to draw you a diagram I will, but don't attempt to use any part of it to argue with me, lest I sue you for improperly using it.

The only post worse than one from a Karma whore (5, Insightful)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615769)

The only post worse than one from a Karma whore is one that calls for somebody to be modded down because you don't like their politics.

Maybe the guy really is a myopic jackass for getting his panties in a twist over a very obscure and complex ruling from a court he doesn't like... maybe not. I dunno. Reverse engineering laws are complex, and I admit that, not being an IP lawyer, I barely grasp them.

How about arguing against his point rather than making a personal attack and calling for him to be silenced (by begging mods to crank his post down to -1 where almost nobody will see it)?

Why do you hate Free Speech?

Seriously. Why? There's no room for debate on the point that you do, as you are trying to censor rather than debate, so the only question is, why do you hate Free Speech?

-1 Off Topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615927)

MOD PARENT DOWN.

Re:The only post worse than one from a Karma whore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615943)

Why do you hate Free Speech?

Because he's part of the Axis of Evil and hates your freedom, dumbass.

Re:The only post worse than one from a Karma whore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615982)

i dont think the OP or the AC that responded are really contributing anything to the discussion. the OP only manages to slam the 9th circuit and the AC slams the OP. i dont see much purpose in your post either.

since you dont want anyone censored, do you read /. at -1? if not, why? you are censoring those people who have been modded down. hell, let's all be sure to mod the GNAA posts and all other trolls to +5 next time we have mod points. in fact, let's only allow for positive mods on /. so no one gets to -1. we dont want to censor anyone...

Re:The only post worse than one from a Karma whore (4, Insightful)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616125)

i dont think the OP or the AC that responded are really contributing anything to the discussion.

The OP points out that the particular court which ruled on this case is requently overturned. If nothing else, he called attention to the fact that the 9th Circuit is perceived by some as somewhat controversial. If we are going to discuss their ruling, that might be worth talking about.

since you dont want anyone censored, do you read /. at -1? if not, why?

The purpose of moderation is two-fold: The first (and more important) purpose is to elevate the visibility of noteworthy comments. Some people like to read at a high threshold to save time. They will only see posts which were seen by at least a few people as particularily worthy of consideration.

The other is allow people to filter out crapflooders, goatse.cx trolls, and other folks who are not really posting to express an idea or participate in a conversation, but simply ruin the experience of reading the forum for everybody else. The moderation guidelines take great pains to urge people to use negative moderation points extremely sparingly.

Modding down somebody simply because you disagree with them, don't like them, or consider their views "dangerous" is not what moderation is supposed to be for. Some people choose to do exactly that with their mod points, but that's a shame.

The way to counter bad ideas is to confront them with good ones, not shout them down.

Yeah, yeah... insert oblig. "you must be new here" joke.

Re:The only post worse than one from a Karma whore (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616480)

You are correct on the mod guidelines. When you get mod points it specifically says to attempt to use them to mod up good posts rather than mod down posts that you do not like or agree with.

Oh, and for the GP I do read at -1. I'm a glutton for punishment I guess.

Re:The only post worse than one from a Karma whore (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 8 years ago | (#13617866)

Why do you hate Free Speech?

Seriously. Why? There's no room for debate on the point that you do, as you are trying to censor rather than debate, so the only question is, why do you hate Free Speech?

Alright... I'm not going to defend the grandparent, but seriously I get *MY* panties all in a knot when I see people talk about moderation as "censorship." (despite the fact that constituional limits on censorship only applies to government action!) The moderation system on slashdot is a lot like a spam filter - it suggests to you what posts are worth reading, and what are not. It's nothing but a suggestion, even if it is one with a lot of sway.

The right to speak is not the same as the right to be heard (I'm allowed to ignore people online etc), and there's the system is designed to allow moderators to use their judgement about how worthwhile a post is. Granted the mods are often on crack, and this type of "majority is always right" nonsense ends up heavily promoting groupthink (Microsoft 100% evil, Linux 100% good, etc), but even still I find it a useful service as 90% of the posts out there are simply not worth reading IMHO. I dislike reading unmoderated forums for this reason.

Whether or not the grandparent's plea to have great-grandparent modded down is acted upon is entire up to the mods. If you feel that moderation is censorship, then maybe it is best for you to post on unmoderated messageboards, or to encourage people to browse at -1 to reduce the influence of /. moderators. If you feel someone's rights are being violated I think you should take action rather than simply complain about what someone else is saying (indeed, that would be the ultimate hypocrisy, saying that free speech is important except for those who disagree with your notions about free speech).

As for me, I'm doing my best to solve the /. moderation problem by constructing a moderation algorithm using clustering etc that should be much more effective and relatively immune to the homogenizing effects of single-rating, nonadaptive moderation... but until I get that figured out, I would ask that all the 1st amendment buffs out there remember the difference between labeling and censorship.

After all, don't I have a right to say "Mod this sucker down?"

Re:Gee, What a Surprise - 9th Circuit (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13615738)

Re:Gee, What a Surprise - 9th Circuit (1, Informative)

MikeyTheK (873329) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615771)

Wow! 75% of reviewed cases in the 9th were overturned? I thought it was the most overturned Circuit.

rejection of clear logic (5, Funny)

d1v1d3byz3r0 (758848) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615710)

does anyone else find the phrase "the jury properly rejected Clear Logic's argument" to be ironic?

Re:rejection of clear logic (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615890)

Do I find it ironic that a judge can decide whether a jury made the right decision? Sure...

Re:rejection of clear logic (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13618815)

Do I find it ironic that a judge can decide whether a jury made the right decision?

A judge can decide whether a jury was properly instructed as to which facts to try.

Not sure about the irony... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616021)

But it did make me wonder if the jury was composed of the more obnoxious Slashdot readers.

Re:rejection of clear logic (1)

Tired_Blood (582679) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616933)

Perhaps ironic, but not that funny (at least not +5 funny imo).

For funny, I seem to remember headlines during the antitrust case proclaiming stuff like, "Big Government Hard on Microsoft."

There's funny in there, although no irony. To make my example ironic, Microsoft would need to have the hard on. :)

Re:rejection of clear logic (1)

d1v1d3byz3r0 (758848) | more than 8 years ago | (#13617079)

irony involves a contradiction of context and literal meaning. the literal meaning of "micro soft" juxtaposed with the terms "big" and "hard" makes the phrase ironic because its humor is rooted in the differences between the literal and contextual meaning of "microsoft". maybe slashdot needs a +5 ironic moderation option.

masks and copyright (2, Interesting)

Colonel Panic (15235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615718)

It's been a while since I worked in that part of the industry, but as I recall, masks used to be copyrighted. Is that part of the issue here?

Imagine being on the Jury (4, Insightful)

Se7enLC (714730) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615749)

Imagine being on the jury for this case.

From the article:

Clear Logic appealed to the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the trial court improperly instructed the jury regarding the affirmative defense of legitimate reverse engineering, which is provided for under the SCPA. The court affirmed, however, holding that certain misstatements of the law in the jury instructions were harmless error. The trial court's instructions initially defined "legitimate reverse engineering" to allow copying and analyzing only "non-protectible concepts or techniques" embodied in a mask work. This was an incorrect statement of the law, but the court concluded that further instructions adequately provided correction. The later instructions explained that "it is permissible [under the SCPA] to reproduce 'a registered mask work' as a step in the process of creating an original chip, so long as the purpose of reproducing the chip is appropriate."

As an electrical engineer, I'm having a hard time fully following all the legalese on this - imagine having to learn what reverse-engineering is, what an FPGA is, and the entire design process while on the jury?

I bet they just sat back in their little deliberation box:

I dunno, they look guity to you, Jeb?

Re:Imagine being on the Jury (4, Insightful)

mark_hill97 (897586) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616079)

Indeed that would be hard. In my opinion what they should have done was get electrical engineers from non-competetive firms and had them fufil the duty of the jury. It seems to me this would be a much better interpretation of a jury of your peers.

Re:Imagine being on the Jury (4, Insightful)

DoctorHibbert (610548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616752)

I've served as an expert witness in a patent case, one company was suing another for a patent violation. The patent was ridiculous, the concepts patented had already been around commerically for over 10 years at the time they filed their patent. Any programmer would have understood the issues once explained. However, the jury is just about high school education levels. Many don't even own a computer. Good luck getting them to understand.

Indeed, in the end, its not who's right, it's whose most credible to the jury. And usually that's the side that's most likable. The actual facts don't really matter.

Re:Imagine being on the Jury (1)

Camshaft_90 (908670) | more than 8 years ago | (#13617557)

just about every court case where witnesses are called, someone lies under oath, if they didn't then most cases would be easier to solve at trial, someone says one thing, another says the opposite then the jury decides who is more credible and nobody usually gets nailed for perjury, so what the point in 1) making people swear to tell the truth when clearly someone will lie? and 2)threatening to prosecute for perjury when it clearly happens in almost every trial. 12 individules try to decide who lied the least? Mabe it is a matter of whom retains the best lawer!

ninth circuit court (2, Funny)

kunzy (880730) | more than 8 years ago | (#13615891)

At least the court is responsible, being the Ninth Circuit court and all :)

Re:ninth circuit court (1)

KUHurdler (584689) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616321)

I heard a statistic the other day that 75% of all the 9th circuit court's rulings are overturned.

Why even bother?

Re:ninth circuit court (1)

PalmMP3 (840083) | more than 8 years ago | (#13617927)

Yeah, and I just heard the other day that %79.6 of all statistics are made up on the spot. Isn't that amazing? ;-)

Re:ninth circuit court (1)

KUHurdler (584689) | more than 8 years ago | (#13624233)

Here's a copy of a cnn article I evidently made up http://archives.cnn.com/2002/LAW/06/26/pledge.alle giance/ [cnn.com] stating that "The 9th Circuit is the most overturned appeals court in the country"

Evidently the statistic is deceiving though. As I understand it now, it's 75% of all the 9th circuit decisions that the supreme court actually reviews are overturned. Not 75% of the total 9th circuit decisions.

Re:ninth circuit court (1)

PalmMP3 (840083) | more than 8 years ago | (#13626015)

Here's a copy of a cnn article I evidently made up

Dude, chill out. It. Was. A. Freakin. Joke.

No need to take it so personally. ;-)

The Shrub is trying to get rid of the 9th circuit (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616395)

Also with some wascally wascals in Congress.

They would like to move it to Boise, defund it, get rid of it altogether, or greatly reduce its power,

Which would make it the 9th "Micro"-Circuit Court of course.

Ok, ok, so. . . (5, Funny)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13616054)

Q: Where do you go to sue somebody for violating a semiconductor law?

A: A Circuit Court!!!

Bad, Bad!!!

It's a confusion of scope. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13616417)

If I'm reading the article correctly, and the law, and the decision -

The law in question allows someone to reproduce a photomask /if it's appropriate under IP law to do so/ - It allows them to reverse-engineer a photomask if it's public domain, has been licensed to them, or is owned outright by them - OR if they're trying to figure out how to debug/interface their own code that's being programmed onto an Altera FPGA. It does not seem either of these is the case.

What Clear Logic seems to have done is get ahold of an Altera FPGA / photomask, and reverse-engineer the programmer portion of the chip - And then made their own device, which translated signals that COULD HAVE been sent to an Altera Field Programmer into the Altera's internal signals to program the Gate Array, and used /those/ signals to lay out their own ASIC.

Basically, they seem to have hijacked Altera's programming controller (a sizeable chunk of IP) for their own purposes. And probably didn't license it.

Altera is suitably disturbed because every one of the ASICs Clear Logic makes with their stolen work could have (in theory, anyway) been money in their pocket from licensing the field programmer or could have had their FPGA in place.

It's as if one has a dynamic web-page generator and backend database, and someone stole the code for that dynamic web page generator & backend database and used it to churn out their own static pages (and sold them) because one's program inherently produces good design.

Re:It's a confusion of scope. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13617479)

This is pretty darn close to what was happening. There's a little more to the story: Clear Logic not only hijacked Altera's masks, bitstream and programmer, they were also providing Altera's CAD software, Quartus II [altera.com] , as the CAD development environment for their users. Their flow for their users was: design and debug in Quartus II, send the bitstream to Clear Logic, get an ASIC back, bypass Altera.

Re:It's a confusion of scope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13619342)

there is a big difference between stealing and reverseengenering, please refrain from using so loaded words when talking about subjects you don't fully understand.

informatiVe gOatgoat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13617034)

mod2 up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13617444)

There's no '*BSD Sux0rs'. This 'first post' Fuck The Baby

Can any of you lawyers tell me... (2, Interesting)

Hosiah (849792) | more than 8 years ago | (#13617469)

How you explain the intricacies of computer architechture to 12 jurors sufficiently that they can arrive at a well-informed verdict, yet tech support people become continuously frustrated trying to explain to the average user that it's a CD tray and not a cup-holder, etc.?
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>