A Minor Note On Software Patents


I tend to avoid the controversy on software patents, mostly because I think that the methods used by most Free Software proponents to call attention to the issues are doing more harm than good and effectively backfiring on them.

After all, the last thing I want is to be portrayed as part of the clueless Linux-for-the-sake-of-freedom crowd...

But when I see the largest Portuguese weekly publish a short story that completely misses the adverse effects the current EU proposal will have and goes on about the benefits of an European Patent Court, I am forced to point it out as bad reporting - i.e., there is a lot riding on this that the reporter is either ignorant of or mis-informed about, and that ought to be part of any article on the topic.

After all, last I checked, Google had much more complete coverage on the matter, and it doesn't take much looking around to see that the SME angle might be bogus, as well as the premise that countries like India and Japan jumpstarted their technology industry through technology patents (which is obviously far from accurate for anyone who, like myself, has taken an interest in post-WWII Japanese history).

In short, the article is bad reporting because it not only failed to cover all the bases, it used some spectacularly weak ones - although I concede that it was a relatively balanced piece within its narrow scope - in fact, it would make sense for someone not in the field to distill the vast swathe of current press coverage into something much like it.

But before the usual zealot crowd drops in, let me just state my view on software patents as unambiguously as possible: I agree that there should be better protection for companies that develop innovative solutions, but favor the reinforcement of authorship rights (which force you to actually deliver a product) instead of using the increasingly broken and kludgy patent system (which lets you sit on a trivial idea and pounce on people without having to get any work done).

That said, I have nothing further to add to the matter, since arguments on both sides of the fence have become so inflated and unreal that expressing agreement or disagreement regarding any of them would negate the clearmindedness I strive to achieve here.

Let's see what the EU settles on, if it does settle on anything.


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