[Fsfe-ie] Re: Patents, current situation?

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at nedprod.com
Tue Sep 23 00:37:56 CEST 2003

Hash: SHA1

On 22 Sep 2003 at 10:39, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:

> My understanding is that you could write an mp3->ogg converter without
> requiring a license but you could not write an mp3 player.  I don't
> see the big win here, patents would still be an obsticle and patent
> infringement suits (legitimate or not) would still be a threat.

Pro-patent lobby groups are targeting the interoperability clause the 
hardest. They quite rightly realise that if passed it would represent 
a major blow to enforceability of patents.

Your example is the most obvious, but we can go much further. For 
example you could write your mp3 player in two parts - one converts 
the mp3 to wav, and the second part plays the wav - of course you do 
this internally. You've just got around the patent.

> The Free Software amendment would be great, it would encourage
> companies to release Free Software as a means of avoiding patent
> requirements.  The down side is that I'm not sure this amendment will
> get majority support.

I STRONGLY oppose such an amendment. The biggest threat of software 
patents is not against non-commercial software at all because 
royalties are usually waived (proof is in the US). The single biggest 
loser from software patents are SME's and most especially technology 

I know most free software believers think software is the free 
property of all mankind but I absolutely urge you not to create a two 
tier environment. GPL believers may not like it, but there is no 
realistic business or economic model for making GPL software - RedHat 
only turn a profit because they do very little of the overall work. 
No company can possibly make a profit selling the most popular kinds 
of free software.

The solution here is alternative types of free software, but I'd 
doubt if the OSI would approve.


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