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Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Jan 7, 2003

NAI buys DeerSoft Inc., manufacturer of SpamAssassin Pro - confusion assured ...

In what seems certain to be a growing trend in the anti-virus industry, and following in the footsteps of MessageLabs, NAI is branching into anti-spam. The company that recently bought McAfee.com and PGP has announced its acquisition of DeerSoft Inc., the company that '[created] SpamAssassin Pro, the proprietary (Windows) version of the GPL/PAL licensed SpamAssassin.'

The interesting twist here, of course, comes in the form of the developers employed by both DeerSoft Inc. and MessageLabs who contribute to the open-source SpamAssassin, from which both products take part of their code ... Confused?

SpamAssassin is an open-source anti-spam project (the name of which appears to have been trademarked by DeerSoft), which is licensed under the same terms as Perl (it's written in Perl) - specifically, both the GPL, and the Perl Artistic License (PAL). DeerSoft Inc. was started by Craig Hughes, a core developer of the open-source SpamAssassin, and later employed its creator, Justin Mason.

Under the PAL, DeerSoft may use the open-source SpamAssassin code in their products, and may modify and enhance it as they see fit. MessageLabs does essentially the same thing as part of its SkyScan Anti-Spam (SkyScan AS) service, the difference being that MessageLabs doesn't supply a product per se: SkyScan AS is hosted on the company's own servers, through which customers' email is routed, taking advantage of a different part of the PAL.

Essentially, then, the two companies are starting from the same code-base, and developers from both companies are pooling their code in the open-source SpamAssassin, despite the two commercial products being competitors. The question for those using the open-source SpamAssassin, is will the developers be allowed to continue contributing to the open-source version?

Posted on 07 Jan 2003 by Virus Bulletin

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