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[Fsfe-uk] Open-source developers "see no problem" with s/w patents ??

From: James Heald
Subject: [Fsfe-uk] Open-source developers "see no problem" with s/w patents ??
Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2005 00:18:55 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7) Gecko/20040616

According to somebody at the UKPO "technical contribution" workshop today in Glasgow,

When discussing the impact of software patents on
open-source software, we were told that many leading open-source
developers did not think that there would be any adverse impact,
including people from FFII. Unfortunately, Peter Hayward would not
tell us which leading open source developer in FFII made such

A similar line has also come up in the most recent letters from Malcolm Harbour-following Conservative MEPs.

A case could be made that:

* Open source / free software projects have the advantage of very complete public check-in archives to establish prior art.

* A strong volunteer community (may) be ready to research prior art, and fight every stage tooth and nail.

* Some of the largest open source / free software projects have very powerful friends, with substantial patent arsenals of their own

* Some of the smaller open source projects may swim under the radar, or be considered too small to sue.

But is there anybody in the Open Source / Free Software community who doubts that the likely effect of software patents would be massive disruption to free software, and the likely closing-off of area after area to free software ?

Given the there-for-the-takingness of the opportunities that software patents would provide for market leaders (either directly, or indirectly through proxies like SCO) to hamstring upstart threatening free-software projects, can anyone believe they wouldn't be tempted ?

Does anyone know of anyone Peter Hayward might have in mind, when he's talking about these "leading open-source developers" who "did not think that there would be any adverse impact from software patents" ?

They certainly don't include Linux Torvalds, or Alan Cox, or MySQL...

Anybody heard of leading open-source developers going round reassuring people that they're fireproof ?

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