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From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Saturn V and OTV Booklets on ebay - ANyone here bidding on this?
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 04:07:53 GMT

In article <>,
rk  <> wrote:
>> >but often such material is stamped proprietary...
>> That's a whole different story, however.  (And one that third parties are
>> not legally obligated to respect, if they come by the material legitimately.)
>...I didn't know that third parties are not obligated to respect that.

Yup.  In general, stamping something proprietary (and the various other
precautions that go along with that) doesn't give it any magical status
under the law.  The law says you have the right to keep secrets, but *you*
must keep them -- the law will not do it for you.  If the cat gets out of
the bag, well, it's out; you may be able to sue the people who let it out,
especially if you wisely made them sign a nondisclosure agreement before
giving it to them, but folks with whom you have no contractual
relationship are under no obligation to protect your secrets for you.
(With the usual stipulation that if they reasonably should have known that
the stuff was stolen, that changes things.)

Copyrights and patents are different; there, the owner is deemed to have
inherent property rights which a moment's carelessness doesn't eliminate,
and ignorance is not a defence in an infringement case.  But once a secret
is out, it's not a secret any more.

>I do know that if a federal employees knowingly divulges
>proprietary information it is a crime.

I believe that law is there because so many companies have contractual
relationships with the government, and the government wanted to emphasize
that its employees are obligated to respect those relationships.

>Anyways, I am curious about the manuals that started this discussion - are they
>aren't they?

Yeah, I'd like to know too...
Microsoft shouldn't be broken up.       |  Henry Spencer
It should be shut down.  -- Phil Agre   |      (aka

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