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software patents

From: rjack
Subject: software patents
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2006 09:50:31 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.7.2) Gecko/20040804 Netscape/7.2 (ax)

Can someone explain how a copyrighted computer program can infringe a software patent ?

17 USC 102(b) states:

“In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.”

So any source code that implements the method or procedure of a software patent cannot be copyrighted. Therefore no copyright license can ever effect the code implementing a software patent.

So why does the proposed FSF GPL3 contain terms referring to software patents ?

The GPL3 rev 2 states:

“In this License, each licensee is addressed as "you," while "the Program" refers to any work of authorship licensed under this License. . . To "propagate" a work means doing anything with it that requires permission under applicable copyright law, except executing it on a
computer, or making modifications that you do not share.”

The “Program” obviously refers to a copyrighted work. What is the relevance to software patents ?

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