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Free Software friendly patent pools

Free Software friendly patent pools

Posted Aug 18, 2010 13:04 UTC (Wed) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
In reply to: Free Software friendly patent pools by hingo
Parent article: A very grumpy editor's thoughts on Oracle

I haven't looked into it in great depth. I'm generally sceptical of "market" solutions, so I focus on legislation, courts, and government policies.

The reason I'm sceptical is that all previous "market" solutions have been disappointing, and because its success depends so heavily on adoption. I usually judge solutions by the question: Will it make it safe for developers to support h.264? And the DPL won't.

The DPL might be good, like OIN is, but it's still only a partial solution to a small part of the problem.

"Copyleft for patents" doesn't sound accurate, AFAICT. It seems more like a patent non-aggression pact, or a demilitarised zone.

I've a short en.swpat.org page: Defensive Patent License. The en.swpat.org wiki is a general information resource, so it aims to documents topics like the DPL from all angles, not just my opinion. If you've links or explanations about why DPL is an important step forward, they'd be very welcome.


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Free Software friendly patent pools

Posted Aug 18, 2010 17:56 UTC (Wed) by hingo (guest, #14792) [Link]

I haven't looked into it in great depth. I'm generally sceptical of "market" solutions, so I focus on legislation, courts, and government policies.

Interesting, to me FOSS proves that we can solve problems ourselves, despite lack of cooperation from governments and courts.

"Copyleft for patents" doesn't sound accurate, AFAICT. It seems more like a patent non-aggression pact, or a demilitarised zone.

Analogues may never be perfect (Creative Commons isn't exactly like open source, but still inspired by it). What always thrilled me about the GPL is the back story that RMS initially saw copyright as something negative, until he realized he can also use copyright to protect his own ideals and invented copyleft. So I see the DPL in a similar light: If we fail to change the law, then we can still neutralize patents one by one. The GPL also didn't "neutralize" copyright immediately, we had to spend decades writing GPL software first! But that might still be faster than waiting for the next SCOTUS ruling :-)

There are other aspects about the DPL too that are GPL-like: It's a license, not an organization or corporation (so there is no central control so it cannot "go bad", be acquired, etc...). So it is a virtual pool rather than a real pool.

There is one major difference though: When we write useful GPL software, people start using it and they then enter the domain of the GPL. But patents in the DPL pool are in themselves purely passive, so why would someone join the DPL? If the only companies to join the DPL virtual pool are such that would never assert their patents anyway, then nothing has really changed.

I've a short en.swpat.org page: Defensive Patent License. The en.swpat.org wiki is a general information resource, so it aims to documents topics like the DPL from all angles, not just my opinion. If you've links or explanations about why DPL is an important step forward, they'd be very welcome.

Thanks. Will put it on my todo list, which is a bit long at the moment.

Free Software friendly patent pools

Posted Aug 18, 2010 18:32 UTC (Wed) by Trelane (subscriber, #56877) [Link]

RMS initially saw copyright as something negative, until he realized he can also use copyright to protect his own ideals and invented copyleft

s/his own ideals/end-user freedom/

Without this distinction, he'd not be justified in saying that copyright can be used for good; he'd be another jerk using copyright to make others do what he wants them to.

The goal of copyright and patents is "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92preface.html) and enhancing end-user freedom through copyright achieves this through:

  1. Sharing one's own Progress in Science and the useful Arts
  2. Requiring others to share their Progress if they wish to use yours
  3. Minimizing the impact on the general citizenry who are giving up their natural ability to copy an idea or work in exchange for your Progress.

In addition, one may note his political stances (e.g. on the US and Israeli governments) and contrast them with the political stance of the GPL, which is none. The GPL is explicitly not an end-user license agreement and makes no requirements regarding what you may or may not use it for.

Free Software friendly patent pools

Posted Aug 18, 2010 19:08 UTC (Wed) by hingo (guest, #14792) [Link]

I have nothing to add or correct to your comment, but I sense I should just in case point out that I think RMS's ideals are great, for the precise reasons you write.

Free Software friendly patent pools

Posted Aug 18, 2010 19:16 UTC (Wed) by Trelane (subscriber, #56877) [Link]

That's fine, but ideals being great is tangential to the point at hand -- GPL is intended to preserve end-user rights and thereby enhance progress, not to enforce RMS' ideals. In fact, the GPL enhances end-user rights despite and sometimes in contradiction to RMS' ideals (e.g. can be used in torture equipment).

Free Software friendly patent pools

Posted Aug 18, 2010 19:41 UTC (Wed) by hingo (guest, #14792) [Link]

Ah, now I got your point. Thanks.

So when I wrote "RMS ideals", I specifically meant "end user rights" and not any of his other personal ideals.


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