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Re: Software Patents

On Fri, Jun 02, 2006 at 10:24:45PM +0200, Cesare Leonardi wrote:
> One of the terrible effect of software patents is that nobody knows if 
> his program infringe some of them in some country. And, as you said, i 
> think it's impossible to be completely patent-free as things stand now.

However, don't forget that we know that no programs infringe any
patents in some countries.  Thus, it is possible to be completely
patent-free there.

The bad countries are: USA (the "land of the free"), Japan and
perhaps some parts of Europe.  In Europe, after years of fighting,
the current situation is that no common laws on software patents can
be binding on member states -- as far as I know, this leaves only UK
and Germany among the bad guys.
Unfortunately, there is a controversy whether TRIP agreements apply
to software patents as well or not.  If they do, we have to avoid
more than just the four rogue countries.

The good news is, there are countries which are not bound by any

In other words: let's revive non-US, rename it accordingly
(non-patent-troll, non-non-free?), and have it served only from
machines placed in the free countries.

> Since patents cover concepts not the implementation, if mp3 bases
> itself on several patents, then all codecs are covered by that
> patents. And so ffmpeg, mplayer, xine and vlc are not different in
> that sense.

So, we can have everything that is ok copyright-wise in Debian and
not suffer from patent issues.  We can have LAME, non-castrated
mplayer, and so on.  There is no reason to keep fine DFSG-free
software out of Debian just because it's illegal in some countries. 
Likewise, Debian does distribute encryption software even though it
is illegal in some places.

Also, there is no real reason why a home user shouldn't include the
non-US repositories in her apt/sources just because she happens to
live in the US.  Sure, companies would have troubles doing this, but
the label says it pretty clear: don't touch it if you live in a
non-free country or know the possible consequences.

So: down with the patents, long live non-US!

1KB		// Microsoft corollary to Hanlon's razor:
		//	Never attribute to stupidity what can be
		//	adequately explained by malice.

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