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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Software patent - any action?

From: Chris Lale
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Software patent - any action?
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2002 12:50:26 +0000
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.0.1) Gecko/20020823 Netscape/7.0

MJ Ray wrote:
> Although SWPAT.FFII is a very good resource, I find it a little short
> on "what is the best to do now" opinions
I am drafting a letter for CEC, MEP's Political Party Leaders etc. There
is a template letter at SWPAT.FFII but I cannot understand it. I am reasonably IT-literate, so what chance would lay people have?

I would welcome comments on the following text, especially where I have made mistakes.

Copyright protects a software author's rights. Patenting software would by-pass the author, slow up or stop the fixing of bugs and the development of new software. It would also allow the creation of huge monopolies and be anti-competitive.

This analogy may explain why. Suppose a rose breeder develops a new variety of rose. He, or she, can protect the new variety by registering a name with the RHS or some other body. The breeder can go on to develop a new variety from the old. So can someone else. This competition spurs on development. Copyright fulfils a similar role for the software developer.

The features and functions of a rose are determined by genes. Similarly, software code implements algorithms. Suppose that a rose breeder were allowed to patent the gene(s) that give a rose its red colour. That would inhibit or prevent someone else from developing a new variety of red rose. I could also inhibit or prevent someone else from developing a new red flower of any sort.

Patenting of software would work in a similar way. A big company would be allowed to patent algorithm(s) in their software. This would inhibit or prevent anyone else from developing any new software that has a similar function.

Algorithms are fundamental mathematical truths. Arguably, they are discovered and developed rather than being invented. How different would our lives be now if Pythagoras's Theorem or Archimedes' Principle had been patented?


|  ___   Chris Lale   <address@hidden>                  |
| /   \                                                           |
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