Re: Re: gif-producing code and sarge
> IBM holds *so* many software patents (all invalid on their
> faces, of course) that if it decided to enforce them, and was
> successful, most of Debian would likely have to be removed.
Many of IBM's patents are clearly valid according to US law;
they are the result of real cutting-edge research and are
genuine inventions. So, as long as software patents are legal,
those patents are valid.
However, IBM has licensed a number of their patents for free use
in GPL applications; in particular, several patents related to
register allocation in compilers are available for implementation
in GCC (or other compilers), and similarly with their RCU patent,
now used by the Linux kernel.
Raph Levien has a number of printing-related patents that are
similarly licensed for GPL implementation -- he's the current
maintainer of Ghostscript as well as the guy behind advogato.org.
If Debian wants to cease to exist as a software distribution, one
easy way to do it is to get the idea that you'll go looking for
patents and declare any software that, in your non-lawyer's opinion,
might infringe, to be non-free. You will soon have nothing left
On GIF, Debian should declare GIF eligible for main as soon as
the last Unisys patent expires (July 7, 2004 in Canada). Any
further foot-dragging, based on speculation about IBM patents
that were never enforced, does not serve the project or its users.