Rambler v. NGINX Case: Criminal Risks of Digitalization Roundtable May 16

One of the biggest scandals of 2019 is, without a doubt, criminal case to developers of the NGINX web server, set up at the request of Rambler and Lynwood Investments CY Ltd. copyright infringement: allegedly the authors of NGINX developed it during working hours and on the instructions of the employer, and then assigned the result to themselves.

It is separately important to note that the NGINX server itself is a non-commercial product, it is distributed in source codes under BSD License and available to all comers. The company makes money on products built on the basis of NGINX – for example, a web server and load balancer NGINX Plus and its management system NGINX Controller.

There were no big doubts that we were faced with the traditional “patent raiding” at the start – even if we assumed that the claims were fair, the moment for their presentation was completely unambiguous: a few months earlier NGINX was bought for $ 670M American F5 Networks.

One way or another, but the scale of indignation in the IT community surprised many – and, apparently, last but not least the management of Rambler and Sberbank, which had just invested in it. After a series of open letters and public statements Rambler backed up and promised to figure it out.

Alas, the “Russian highlight” was included here – the habit of individual businessmen, preserved from the past decades, to resolve issues through the institution of a criminal case. The claimed amount of damage automatically makes the crime serious, and the investigation in such cases cannot be terminated by reconciliation of the parties (Art. 25 Code of Criminal Procedure)

The lawyers talked about the fact that nothing had ended back in December, and from people familiar with the way of thinking of large management, warnings were heard that there would simply be a pause until spring: give time to fade the noise, “Rambler” to distance himself and restore his reputation .

And really, nothing ended – neither then nor now.

Less than a month ago, April 24, Rambler finally publicly statedthat withdraws its claims and is no longer a party to this criminal case. It would seem that you can celebrate the victory – but, firstly, do not forget about the gravity of the alleged act, and secondly, the very Lynwood Investments remained in the case.

Moreover, the latter acted immediately with a simple and straightforward statement: Lynwood continues to seek the condemnation of the authors of NGINX and has every authority to do so.

The highlight is that Lynwood, apparently, is directly connected with Alexander Mamut, who owns Rambler – that is, the whole operation looks like taking Rambler out of the fire without abandoning attempts to get its share of the NGINX and F5 deal .

The forecasts regarding the spring and the quiet of the noise were justified: the news caused sluggish discussions in the IT environment, nothing even close to the level of indignation in December 2019 happened this time. The April draft statements and open letters known to us went under the cloth after several days of discussion.

On the one hand, it is clear that in 2020, most businesses and people have completely different problems – for example, what to eat in a rapidly growing economy on a slope.

On the other hand, it is obvious that the news of the end of April is not an isolated situation and not a minor incident, but a direct, immediate and, worst of all, the expected consequence of the events of December.

Moreover, we do not see an understanding of this in the IT community. December events are generally perceived as a victory, and April events as a consolidation of this victory, after which everything subsequent, such as the termination of the criminal case, should happen “somehow by itself”. Questions about what will happen next, as well as what is the risk that NGINX will not be the last victim of such “special operations”, and whether it can be somehow reduced, are practically not raised and not discussed.

Therefore, we decided to collect and hold a round table tomorrow – of course, online – on which we will discuss:

  • Why did it happen and could it happen otherwise – in the light of the original criminal nature of the persecution
  • What are the prospects for the development of the case in the current situation
  • How abnormal are such attacks on IT companies in Russia and in the world as a whole
  • What these events look like against the backdrop of statements about the country’s digitalization and state online services constantly falling under the load
  • How much the authorities are guilty of this – and should they do something to prevent similar scenarios in the future
  • What should employers do to solve such issues with employees peacefully
  • What to do for employees not to fall under the steam rink of the former employer’s legal service once

Round table participants:

  • Artyom Gavrichenkov, CTO, Qrator Labs
  • Vyacheslav Makarov, Secretary General of the videoconferencing Party of Direct Democracy
  • Sergey Nesterovich, Deputy Editor in Chief, Political News Agency
  • Yuri Panchul, founder of startup C Level Design (San Jose, California)
  • Boris Chigidin, candidate of legal sciences, member of the videoconferencing party of direct democracy
  • Andrey Shetukhin, IT systems architect
  • Roman Yankovsky, Candidate of Law, Advisor to IP / IT Practice, Law Firm Tomashevskaya and Partners

Moderator of the round table – Oleg Artamonov, member of the videoconferencing party of direct democracy.

The round table is held jointly by the organizing committee of the AnalogBytes conference and the highest coordination council of the Direct Democracy Party.

Round table start – Saturday, May 16, 12:00 Moscow time. According to the experience of previous round tables, it will last about an hour and a half.

Broadcasting is possible watch on youtube.

Questions to the participants of the round table right along its course can be asked there, in the broadcast chat. The moderator will read them and, as far as possible, broadcast them to the participants.

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