[ILUG] Patent issues
johngay at eircom.net
Mon May 31 22:22:06 IST 2004
On Mon 31 May 2004 15:28, Murf <xcraft at eircom.net>
> That patent is hilarious.
> Execpt when I stop and remember, it's *serious*!
> This kind of stuff is actually quite scary.
And that's exactly the type of patents we need to stop entering Europe.
ATM, The Irish Government is of the oppinion that the only people against
software patents are 'long-haired, radical, Linux fanatics' that think all
software should be free. As long as they can dismiss the opposition to
software patents under such an umbrella, we will see many such patents over
this side of the pond.
We need to let our MEP's know that it's not just Linux people who are opposed
to software patents. We need small and medium sized software companies to
write to the ministers and explain how software patents will prevent them
from innovating in the software industry.
We need the large software companies to explain how they use software patents
to block such innovations from the smaller sector.
They need to be told exactly how Unisys sat on it's patent for a textbook
compression routine until gif's became the defacto Internet image format, and
then demanded large licences from anyone creating or viewing gifs. Ensuring
that such licences were non-transferable, so that if someone bought the
licence to create a gif-producing product to sell, Unisys could still demand
a licence fee from anyone who bought the gif-producing product. Also, just
how many man-hours were spent writing ungif to carefully sidestep exactly
this software patent? I'm sure these man-hours could have been used for
something more productive had it not been for this software patent.
They need to be told the same story about mp3 compression which is so
identical to the gif story that I'm amazed no-one saw it coming? Again, how
many man-hours were spent creating ogg-vorbis rather than improving mp3?
Most importanly, this needs to come from non-linux people. This needs to come
from companies who make money from software. After all, software companies
have a right and a duty to make money from their work.
Yes, Linux, BSD et-al are about freedom and liberties and expression, but
software patents have nothing to do with any of the above. The arguements the
government needs to hear is that software patents threaten the ability of
software companies to make money. They threaten the inovations of software
companies and waste time when such patents must be carefully stepped around,
and still the patent holders come after them. Even if they don't violate the
patent, most small companies would be forced to close rather than enter a
lengthy legal battle.
So, this is a plea, to anyone involved in a small to medium sized software
company, especially companies that have no connection with Linux, BSD or
OSS/FSF to write to their respective representitives in Europe explaining the
real threat that software patents pose to them.
These letters must stress that such companies would loose money and might even
close down with the threat of software patents.
These letters must NOT, under any curcumstances, mention anything about
freedom of expression, or any libitarian ideals. Such references will be
automatically put under the 'Freedom fanatics' umbrella and dismissed.
These letters should explain that copyright is the right way to protect
software companies products from theft and piracy. With copyrights,
individual products are protected, but other companies are allowed to
continue to innovate and build on the works of others to produce better
products and create the competition that keeps companies producing better
products at competitive prices for everyone.
These letters should explain that patents give major multi-nationals an unfair
advantage over the smaller software producers. With patents, small companies
must waste large amouts of time and effort trying to aviod patented ideas
before they can then expand. And they are still under threat of attack. And
how many small or meduim sized companies can withstand a legal action from a
And lastly, they should remind them that with Elections in a few weeks, that
their chances for re-election depend on their stand against software patents
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