LinuxQuestions.org
Register a domain and help support LQ
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Non-*NIX Forums > General
User Name
Password
General This forum is for non-technical general discussion which can include both Linux and non-Linux topics. Have fun!

Notices

Reply
 
Search this Thread
Old 07-24-2005, 07:46 PM   #1
LinuxPadawan
Member
 
Registered: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Distribution: Fedora Core 3
Posts: 114

Rep: Reputation: 15
Software Patents - What will it do to open source


What would software patents have done to Open source

1. Exactly what is a software patent?
2. Would it have killed open source, I've heard somewhere it would, is that true?
3. If software patents did not shut down open source then What would have been its effect on open source?

Last edited by LinuxPadawan; 07-24-2005 at 07:56 PM.
 
Old 07-24-2005, 08:51 PM   #2
tkedwards
Senior Member
 
Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Munich, Germany
Distribution: Opensuse 11.2
Posts: 1,549

Rep: Reputation: 51
Quote:
1. Exactly what is a software patent?
A patent on a particular piece of software, or an algorithm used in that software usually. Lasts for 20 years and if you get enough patents together (eg. if Microsoft were to patent everything to do with graphical computer operating systems as they are tring to do) you would effectively have a government granted monopoly in your market.

Quote:
2. Would it have killed open source, I've heard somewhere it would, is that true?
If they were all enforced then yes. The thing is that the big IT companies are in a sort of mutually assured destruction situation ATM with each big company hording patents to defend against the others. So if Microsoft sued IBM for infringements of their patents a, b and c IBM would counter-sue for infringements of their patents x, y and z. Any change in this balance could be disastorous for open source and patents have already lead to problems, the most obvious example being the stripping of software components which play MP3s, read NTFS partitions and play DVDs from some distributions, esp. those based in the US. All these distros have packages that add this functionality back in easily though.

Quote:
3. If software patents did not shut down open source then What would have been its effect on open source?
Far more severe restrictions along the lines of those listed above, to the point where the open source software would be next to useless.

For more info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent_debate (read the links at the bottom especially)
http://webshop.ffii.org/ (example of why sw patents are bad for business)
http://www.patents4innovation.org/ (pro-sw patents, claim they encourage inovation. I think this is bullshit but I've included it for some balance)
 
Old 07-24-2005, 10:53 PM   #3
LinuxPadawan
Member
 
Registered: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Distribution: Fedora Core 3
Posts: 114

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
so if it did go through every linux user would have been screwed and would be forced back to a proprietary one like windows or the mac OS.
 
Old 07-24-2005, 11:22 PM   #4
tkedwards
Senior Member
 
Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Munich, Germany
Distribution: Opensuse 11.2
Posts: 1,549

Rep: Reputation: 51
That's a worst case scenario. But remember that software patents have been allowed in the US for the last 10 years or so but haven't really been used to the extent that they seriously damage open source. This is mainly because of the above-mentioned mutually assured lawsuits effect from big companies with an interest in open source software like Linux.

At the moment a full-on assault by Microsoft etc. using software patents to completely ban open source probably isn't very likely because of the storm of controversy and counter-suits it would generate. What they are trying to do is subtly use the fear of such an attack to discourage people from using open source by using their marketing to cast doubt in people's minds about the safety of using software they could be sued for using. Its classic FUD of course since Microsoft's software would infringe just as many, if not more, patents as the equivalent open source implementation, also microsoft has been successfuly sued for patent infringement in the past (eg. Eolas web-browser plugin patent).
 
Old 07-25-2005, 01:06 AM   #5
XavierP
Moderator
 
Registered: Nov 2002
Location: Kent, England
Distribution: Lubuntu
Posts: 19,174
Blog Entries: 4

Rep: Reputation: 428Reputation: 428Reputation: 428Reputation: 428Reputation: 428
Moved: This thread is more suitable in General and has been moved accordingly to help your thread/question get the exposure it deserves.
 
Old 07-25-2005, 05:56 AM   #6
SciYro
Senior Member
 
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: hopefully not here
Distribution: Gentoo
Posts: 2,038

Rep: Reputation: 51
even in a worst case scenario, people will still develop and use open source software, i know a lot of people use illegal copies of proprietary software, so whats the big deal with using open source software, sure, even if m$ is able to kill all the servers that distribute the software, theres still going to be software passed around the old fashioned way using CD/DVD/floppy/USB-storage/etc .... theres no way short of a Inquisition that they can get rid of, or even stop people from making/using open source software.
 
Old 07-26-2005, 01:12 AM   #7
LinuxPadawan
Member
 
Registered: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Distribution: Fedora Core 3
Posts: 114

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Quote:
Its classic FUD of course since Microsoft's software would infringe just as many, if not more, patents as the equivalent open source implementation, also microsoft has been successfuly sued for patent infringement in the past (eg. Eolas web-browser plugin patent).
But how are we to know that companys like M$ have patent violations if their source code is secret? If there was a way to find out then I'm sure M$ would not touch the subject of shutting down open source for the exact reason you said-they would be sued as well. It just seems to me that because source code is available to anyone M$ has the upper hand in the matter and would go right through showing all of the violations, atleast I'm guessing you would need source code that is.

Last edited by LinuxPadawan; 07-26-2005 at 01:18 AM.
 
Old 07-26-2005, 01:47 AM   #8
tkedwards
Senior Member
 
Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Munich, Germany
Distribution: Opensuse 11.2
Posts: 1,549

Rep: Reputation: 51
You need sourcecode more to prove a copyright infringement. For a patent you need only show the offending product in action to see that it violates a patent.
Eg. the amazon 1-click shopping patent. You don't need access to the perl/python/asp/whatever scripts behind someone's website to see that it would violate this payment. You don't even need to view the HTML/CSS/Javascript code that makes up the page.
 
  


Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Need Help: Free Software vs. Open Source Software General_Tso Linux - General 13 12-17-2005 09:49 PM
Your favourite Open Source Software! linuxdemos.com General 15 11-10-2005 04:07 AM
Open Source PayPal-like Software longislandguru Linux - Software 2 09-12-2005 06:33 AM
open source AlphaWindow software frieza Linux - Software 0 07-31-2005 05:28 PM
IBM giving away free access of 500 of their patents for the Open Source Community... Fabyfakid Linux - News 2 01-12-2005 01:12 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:24 PM.

Main Menu
My LQ
Write for LQ
LinuxQuestions.org is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
Syndicate
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
identi.ca: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration