Trivial patents *not the problem* (was: Re: [ILUG] Re: ILUG sends
s/w patents briefing document to Irish MEPs)
colm at stdlib.net
Mon Mar 21 14:52:25 GMT 2005
On Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 02:33:25PM +0000, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> Colm MacCarthaigh <colm at stdlib.net> writes:
> > Why shouldn't democratic society decide that we can do without software
> > hobbyists in favour of greater employment (say) ? That's the argument you
> > have to explain.
> That's *an* argument that will have to be discussed.
It's really the only argument that is going to concern most of our
elected representatives though, and you're totally ignoring it.
> The consequences of the directive will be felt by employment, as well as
> SMEs, Free Software, indigenous software industry, indigenous software
> *using* industries, democracy, even national security, but the causes of the
> consequences are the two points I gave.
> Each of the above points has to be raised, but the point was and is that
> trivial patents (which the thread was arguing about virtually exclusively)
> are not the problem.
> Also, be careful not to rest your case on something that could be "refuted"
> by a (MS funded) study or a misguided (pressured) SME union.
Whatever about trivial patents, it still seems to me that you don't have
a convincing, coherent, argument. Your case seems to be that software is
different, it has lower barriers to entry and more individuals
contributing to it than other fields.
But really, these differences are not set in stone. We don't have an
absolute right to code. Democratic society is free to remove it from us
if they perceive there to be benefits.
The Council of Ministers and some governments (including ours) have
decided that it is better to please the large software employers and
safeguard employment with the multinationals than it is to ensure easy
software development by individuals, small companies and so on.
This is the argument you have to win. None of the others really matter.
Noone cares about the right to code. I write a lot of OpenSource
software, and I certainly am not persuaded by it.
What matters is numbers, and how allowing software patents sill hurt
employment numbers and make Europe less competetive.
A lot of the idealogical arguments are absurd to the point of stupidity.
Software patents in and of themselves are no less stupid than patents
generally. You can try and convince yourselve otherwise, that it's
"Software idea patents" and so on, but really all patents are on ideas -
we've simply enjoyed an industry unencumbred by patents.
People make arguments that software functionality is not so easily
replacatable without overlapping implementations compared to other
industries - but I'm not convinced. There are and were patents on
fundamental mechanical and electrical devices for example - the gear,
transistor, diode, and so on.
The case has to be made to why the specific industry (and not activity)
is unsuitable for the protection of patents- and it's an economic case,
and not many people are showing the numbers.
Colm MacCárthaigh Public Key: colm+pgp at stdlib.net
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