[OT] Free software versus software idea patents
harrismh777 at charter.net
Tue Apr 12 10:15:51 CEST 2011
geremy condra wrote:
>> Software is another sort of animal entirely. Because software is not just
>> > based on mathematics--- IT IS mathematics.
> I am extremely skeptical of this argument.
... as are a great number of other people; corporations, lawyers,
venture capitalists, SPAM SPAM SPAM...
That is what made the last Supreme Court decision (from this
argument in part) so important... because for the first time the U.S.
Supreme Court is beginning to buy it ... in part.
See Groklaw here if you're not familiar with the issue:
In this case, the court left software patents intact for the
moment, but they slammed the door shut on Bilski... and the interesting
thing here is that what Bilski was claiming to have invented is similar
is most respects to all other "software idea patents," and for similar
mathematical reasoning. It was a slam dunk, by the way... here is a
block quote from Groklaw you might find interesting:
===== block quote =====
If you are a lawyer wondering why some argue that software is
mathematics, and hence ineligible for patent protection, or are just
interested to know why software developers, particularly those who
develop Free and Open Source software, almost to a man oppose software
patents, you might enjoy reading Groklaw's An Explanation of Computation
Theory for Lawyers, as well as the amicus briefs and articles marked
with the discreet red stars [*], below. Donald Knuth, called the
"father" of the analysis of algorithms, stated: "Basically I remain
convinced that the patent policy most fair and most suitable for the
world will regard mathematical ideas (such as algorithms) to be not
subject to proprietary patent rights." Also, there is a 30-minute movie,
Patent Absurdity: How software patents broke the system, which explains
> it isn't clear to me that software and
> computation are synonymous. Lambda calculus only models computation,
> and software has real properties in implementation that are strictly
> dependent on the physical world
> I think it's quite reasonable to
> contend that the existence of lambda calculus no more rules out the
> applicability of patents to software (which I detest) than it rules
> out the applicability of patents to hardware (which I find only
> slightly less ridiculous) or other meatspace inventions.
The difference is that while hardware may be "described" by
mathematics (all of it is, actually) software IS the description. You
know this to be true, because you prove it everyday... yourself. How
many times have you had a problem, and rather than sit down with your
pad of paper and a slide rule (or your TI-89 Platinum) YOU solved the
problem right there on the screen... er, I mean... the machine solved
the problem for you, uh, after you wrote out the symbols ... ??? We
don't think out our problems on paper much these days... we just enter
them into the 'ol terminal and play with it there... frankly, that is
what appeals to me with languages like Python, Haskell, and Erlang...
they are my research engines ... they take the place of paper and
pencil and slide rule and calculator (and counting on ones fingers) ...
but its still little 'ol me doing the thinking... the days of doing
multiple differential equations on a black-board (or white board) are
long gone for most of us.
The handwriting is on the wall (not so much wishful thinking as
just noting that everyone including Supreme Court justices are beginning
to get it). It is equally important that *all* software engineers and
FOSS developers *get it!* We need everyone on board with this...
really... the time is critical for everyone to understand this... what
is actually at stake is freedom... what we need to focus on is ending
software patents forever... now.
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