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What's wrong with this picture?

What's wrong with this picture?

Posted Dec 7, 2005 19:21 UTC (Wed) by BrucePerens (guest, #2510)
Parent article: A look at the Patent Commons Project and OIN

Sony and Philips are not companies that are particularly enamored of Open Source software, and their participation in OIN makes the motives behind it suspect. Sony has never been helpful to Open Source developers - details of their equipment required to make drivers, etc., are never made available. Linus used to carry Sony laptops and swore off them after it became clear the company wasn't willing to help make the Linux kernel work better on its own equipment.

Philips walked off of W3C after the royalty-free patent policy for W3C standards was announced. Philips has also been lobbying very strongly for increases in European software patenting, and Sony did so in Japan.

These companies aren't interested in Open Source. They want to win the battle for software patenting. And they will use OIN to justify to European legislators that the software patent problem has been "solved" for Open Source.

Bruce


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What's wrong with this picture?

Posted Dec 7, 2005 19:46 UTC (Wed) by ncm (subscriber, #165) [Link]

[Software-patent advocates] will use OIN to justify to European legislators that the software patent problem has been "solved" for Open Source.

That's worth repeating.

However, I wonder what their game is. Are they counting on there being a limited number of patent-extortion gangs, and on being offered fixed-price subscriptions? What would limit the number of gangs, or the subscription price? Or, are they counting on being able to buy into (most of) them as they pop up, so that the costs are offset?

Certainly protection against competition from small developers is (for them) worth paying monopoly rent, but what keeps the rent bounded?

What's wrong with this picture?

Posted Dec 7, 2005 21:03 UTC (Wed) by ballombe (subscriber, #9523) [Link]

Dont forget IBM: whereas it is a major open-source contributor, it is also a major patent proponent:

IBM's patent department is actively lobbying Europe to legalise software patents.

100 EPO Counterparts Found for IBM's 500 "Freed" US Patents

What's wrong with this picture?

Posted Dec 9, 2005 16:29 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Yes, there's something missing from the picture. As OIN is described, IBM is paying money to keep patents out of IBM's reach. IBM has actively decided (when it selected 500 patents to dedicate) not to dedicate its entire patent portfolio for FOSS use, therefore IBM can't use any of OINs patents.

What's wrong with this picture?

Posted Dec 7, 2005 22:50 UTC (Wed) by grouch (guest, #27289) [Link]

Please keep in mind the many-headed nature of these very large corporations. They still present conflicting faces, reflecting different paths to their goal of satisfying share holders. Businesses are, by definition, amoral. They exist to produce profit. The only character or personality they take on is that of the people who set their policies and conduct day-to-day operations. The larger the business, the more likely it is to present multiple personalities.

My latest Sony TV, purchased before the news of the rootkit fiasco, came with a printed version of the GPL and a link to the source of software used. Philips fought the inclusion of Digital Restrictions Mania in CD recorder drives. IBM spent a billion dollars advertising a free product and who knows how much in their continued fight with SCO.

Any catalog of their faults should also include a list of their actions which are praiseworthy.

What's wrong with this picture?

Posted Dec 7, 2005 23:11 UTC (Wed) by BrucePerens (guest, #2510) [Link]

Yes, all big companies have a multiple-personality disorder. But it's not at all clear which face we're seeing now, and whatever one is working for software patent legislation in the EU will without a doubt use this effort to assure legislators that the problem that software patents present to Open Source is "taken care of".

Bruce

What's wrong with this picture?

Posted Dec 8, 2005 16:28 UTC (Thu) by Los__D (guest, #15263) [Link]

Sony also supported Linux on the PS2, btw

What's wrong with this picture?

Posted Dec 8, 2005 1:04 UTC (Thu) by lilo (guest, #661) [Link]

These companies aren't interested in Open Source. They want to win the battle for software patenting. And they will use OIN to justify to European legislators that the software patent problem has been "solved" for Open Source.

Clearly nothing is solved on a permanent basis. As Pamela said, this is not a long-term solution. Whatever its motivations, any public stock company, be it a SCO or a Philips or an IBM, is only one board change, or one management change, away from a complete change in its business ethics and goals. That having been said, this is still a good thing. The only thing better than protecting against patent abuse is changing patent law and it's hard to see anyone abandoning those efforts based on a temporary solution, however well-crafted.


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