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Re: LZW patented file left in .orig.tar source package?

On Wed, 2002-10-23 at 13:08, Walter Landry wrote:
> Richard Braakman <dark@xs4all.nl> wrote:
> > On Wed, Oct 23, 2002 at 09:58:50AM -0700, Walter Landry wrote:
> > > You have to take it out of whatever Debian distributes.  I can
> > > download the the .orig.tar.gz file, so it can't be in that.  Even if
> > > the .diff.gz takes it out.
> > 
> > Hmm, but why?  You're explicitly allowed to describe how a patented
> > algorithm works, that's the whole point of patents.  And source code
> > is just a detailed description of how the algorithm works.
> > 
> > Are you talking about distributability or about freeness?
> I'm talking about distributability.  You are not allowed to distribute
> an implementation of a patent.  The code is an implementation of that
> patent.  We can argue whether that makes sense, but that is my
> understanding of the law.

That doesn't sound right to me.  (Though, really, what do I know?  All
standard disclaimers apply.)

I was under the impression that patents are use licenses, and are as
such tied to the use you make of the objects covered by them.  You can
make a car engine that infringes on a particular patent, for example,
without a license; you just can't put it in your car and drive around. 
If that particular configuration of metal just happens to be very good
at distributing water to a row of plants in a garden, the patent holder
is out of luck regarding my use of the engine as a watering can (unless
s/he owns the patent on that use of the engine as well).

If I'm right, then the source file cannot be held as violating a patent
claim unless it's compiled and executed.

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