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Richard Stallman: Limit the Effect of Software Patents 257

An anonymous reader writes "We can't get rid of software patents, says Richard Stallman, but we could change how they apply to creating and using software and hardware. In an editorial at Wired, he advocates for a legislative solution to the patent wars that would protect both developers and users. Quoting: 'We should legislate that developing, distributing, or running a program on generally used computing hardware does not constitute patent infringement. This approach has several advantages: —It doesn't require classifying patents or patent applications as "software" or "not software." —It provides developers and users with protection from both existing and potential future computational idea patents. —Patent lawyers can't defeat the intended effect by writing applications differently.'"
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Richard Stallman: Limit the Effect of Software Patents

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @10:54AM (#41853083)

    Stop blaming the lawyers and start blaming the people who ask them to file the lawsuits. It is like blaming the engineers that build an M1 tank, rather than the military that buys and operates it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @11:04AM (#41853219)

    The lawyer scumbags you are protecting should have the moral fortitude to turn down these bad cases, just like the slime-ball engineers you speak of should refuse to work on said death-machines.

  • by Runesabre ( 732910 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @11:07AM (#41853239) Homepage

    My issue with software patents are that inventors have the tools to create just about anything in their own home. Anyone could have created Facebook, JPG rendering, one-click purchase with simply a laptop. If software patents were music, it would be like patenting piano music. Press the keys in a certain way (which anyone will eventually do who plays piano at all) and .. oops... you just violated a patent. Press keys in an arbitrary other pattern and viola... instant patent and license to pester future composers with your "invention".

    There's nothing non-obvious with just about any software. Developers should not have to worry about the dark legal cloud of patents hanging over them for something literally anyone could create with readily available tools in their own home. That very fact should make it obvious why software patents should not exist. People don't accidentally find a cure for cancer in their basement with their Junior Chem Lab Set which is why patents do have a place in general.Even worse is the fact you could be unknowingly violating a patent without even knowing it and the system purposely allows patent holders to wait around until inventors start to actually profit from their inventions and THEN start suing. The fact that patent holders can even have patents without even having a real product simply shows the system isn't about stimulating and rewarding invention but stirring up revenue for government agencies and legal firms.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @11:08AM (#41853265)
    Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, lawyers gotta sue. See "The scorpion and the [frog/turtle]".
  • Re:Right on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @11:15AM (#41853339) Homepage Journal

    I dislike him because of his beliefs. It's his way or the highway.

    That's everyone's beliefs by definition. If you don't have a sense of right and wrong, or how the world should work, then you're not human. Reminds me of the friend who tried to convince me that a certain economist was an "ideologue". "He has some fixed concept of how the world works and predicts things on that!" Leaving aside the fact the economist in question had, actually, very publically revised his view of the world several times when results didn't fit the models he used, the comment was utterly stupid: what he was describing were models, and economists use models. The good ones revise their models when reality doesn't match them, the bad ones pretend that their models always work and ignore reality, but the allegation was stupid.

    Your allegation against Stallman is especially stupid. You just described a belief as, well, a belief. And used it as a criticism.

    But leaving that aside, what Stallman has a habit of is converting his beliefs into a set of pragmatic projects and proposals that everyone can live with. Two extremely prominent examples are the GPL, a license that a developer can choose to use, if the developer wishes the software they release to always be part of a free software infrastructure, and the GNU project, a body of free software that enabled the bootstrapping of an entire free software ecosystem.

    Those pragmatic projects benefitted everyone, regardless of whether they shared Stallman's belief or view of the world or not. Linus Torvalds, who is famously not an enthusiast of Stallman's ideals, used the infrastructure Stallman's work produced to build what's probably the world's most popular and widely use operating system kernel. And he'll be the first to tell you that.

    But, hey, he's a dirty smelly hippy or something, so let's ignore what he actually does and use word games to pretend he's totally teh eval.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @11:25AM (#41853455)

    If you can unknowingly break some patent without even realizing its there, its a sign of a patent being awarded for something that should not be patentable in the first place.

    Patents for a vague idea, or a general approach of implementing it - do not want.

  • by drakaan ( 688386 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @11:32AM (#41853541) Homepage Journal

    I'll re-troll, since IHBT

    ...It's like blaming the engineers that build an M1 tank, rather than the president and congress that tells them where and what to shoot.

  • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @11:33AM (#41853563) Homepage Journal
    Like I've argued, actual code is covered by copyright. If I code something that has the end result as yours, from a patent perspective, it would be like a Xerox copier to a Ditto machine. They both copied documents, but differently. Now if I code something and the guts are the same that is naughty, and covered by copyright law.
  • Re:Right on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @11:34AM (#41853569) Homepage Journal

    *sigh* RTFA please. Then tell me this dude isn't 100% True Freedom on at least this issue. The guy is trying to keep us all from getting totally fucked by government policy for the crime of doing our jobs. If you are pissed about the GPL can we just agree that we have million-times-bigger fish to fry first? The BSD-GPL war can fucking wait, asshole. Until then, RMS is possibly the very best friend every programmer has (yes, even proprietary dudes). Dammit, now you've pissed me off. Yes, you're the kind of moron I was talking about.

  • by N0Man74 ( 1620447 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @11:57AM (#41853823)

    Stop blaming the lawyers and start blaming the people who ask them to file the lawsuits. It is like blaming the engineers that build an M1 tank, rather than the military that buys and operates it.

    Yeah! The lawyers are just exploited innocents! There is a demand for evil, and they are only supplying that demand. Is that so evil? Of course not!

    It's the same reason why drug-dealers, car thieves, and human traffickers aren't really evil, they are just supplying a demand.

  • Re:Right on (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Coeurderoy ( 717228 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:07PM (#41854709)

    The GP thinks RMS is bad because he succeed in convincing people to licence good useful code using the GPL, and then GP's enterprise cannot use it, claim it as it's own, and try to lock down some of it's HW or SW without the risk of having somebody call them over GPL violation.

    I guess our heart is supposed to bleed for him (or her)...
    The limitations of the GPL exist for a reason, without them it would be too easy to "embrace and extend" any open source solution and we would either be back to square one, or spend all our time trying to reinvent the wheel....

    And any liberty can extent only as far as it does not overly reduce the liberty of somebody else (except in some cases the "liberty of being offended").

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982