Five years on
Posted Sep 30, 2010 16:31 UTC (Thu) by FlorianMueller
In reply to: Five years on
Parent article: Red Hat Responds to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Request for Guidance on Bilski
Please explain how this is different from a game vendor tying its proprietary game client to its proprietary game services - a situation you regarded as being completely acceptable five years ago. I'm not arguing against you here, but I'd like to know how you square this particular circle. Or, to adopt your own analogy, to know how IBM isn't entitled to ask that you build your own stadium.
Thanks for asking that question. Even five years later you recall that "bnetd" conversation over a third-party client for Blizzard games, but there are good reasons for why those cases are fundamentally different.
Blizzard isn't dominant in the computer games market; and it wasn't when we had that debate. So there's no antitrust case that can be made, unlike in IBM's case.
The "bnetd" developers didn't argue on the basis of antitrust law anyway. They argued with fair use and copyright, and didn't want to be bound to Blizzard's end user licensing terms the way Blizzard interpreted them.
In terms of building one's own stadium, I mentioned that in connection with an architect's right to withhold authorization of modifications of his work. That's where we're in the field of copyright and the integrity of what an artist creates. I believe that should be a consideration in connection with computer games, which are artistic creations. I don't see that point in connection with whether operating systems should be made available separately from hardware.
Also, always bear in mind that TurboHercules just wanted IBM to offer reasonable licensing terms. They didn't want IBM to be deprived of anything. That's another difference.
If free software were a constitutionally guaranteed cconcept and as such put above anyone else's intellectual property rights, TurboHercules wouldn't have a problem with IBM and bnetd wouldn't have one with Blizzard. But under the existing legal circumstances, the difference comes down to the applicability of antitrust rules. Antitrust can't be used to impose "freebies". However, it can require a dominant player to make something available on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
Apart from legal considerations, there's also the community dimension (IBM's patent pledge etc.) and the political perspective (if IBM asks for royalty-free interoperability when other companies' rights are concerned, why don't they offer any licenses to their interoperability patents at all?). That's also different from Blizzard, which never advocated open source and royalty-free standards and therefore doesn't have IBM's hypocrisy problem.
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