[Fsfe-ie] Re: 2004 dates for the EU Competitiveness Council
dewar at gnat.com
Wed Dec 3 14:30:06 CET 2003
James Heald wrote:
> Despite a certain amount of adverse discussion on the lists, the Nordic
> Green Left group had tabled a (somewhat uncertainly worded) amendment to
> exempt software which was open-sourced from the strictures of patent law.
I must say that such an exemption would strike me as totally unfair
competition, and again, I speak for my company, which would presumably
benefit from this unfairness.
The choice of licenses for distribution of software should be up to the
authors, and should be part of the general competitive environment. Let
free competition determine what in the long run is the best approach for
production and licensing of software.
Government inteference in the free market in this respect would be
Yes, software patents are a menace, but they are a menace for
proprietary and open source/free software alike. After all it was
microsoft that got clobbered for IE plugins, and Palm that got clobbered
for Grafitti, both good examples of patents interfering with innovation.
In practice software patents have been hitting proprietary software
vendors more aggressively, but that's not due to some fundamental
difference between proprietary and free software, but rather to other
factors, one of which is that free software tends to be very careful
about patents. There is a reason why linux does not have good font
smoothing algorithms, and gcc did not use register coloring for many
Of course as we all know, being careful is not good enough, and sooner
or later, we will see a big software patent case revolving around Free
or Open Source software.
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