Re: Open Software License v2.1
- To: Brian Thomas Sniffen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Cc: email@example.com
- Subject: Re: Open Software License v2.1
- From: Nathanael Nerode <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 05 Oct 2004 15:15:47 -0400
- Message-id: <4162F2E3.email@example.com>
- In-reply-to: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- References: <email@example.com> <4147B3A0.firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>
Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
What if I invented it independently? Assume for the sake of argument
that I am a genius. ;-)
Stop right there. You didn't invent the software I wrote, regardless of
what the overloaded US Patent Office might think.
Sure I did. Well, if you're writing some software to do
Diffie-Hellman key exchange, that Diffie and Hellman most certainly
*did* invent that, and have a (now-expired) patent on it. If you're
using the RSA cryptosystem to provide secrecy and authentication for
data, then R, S, and A really did invent it, and you're just following
in their footsteps.
You didn't come up with the idea of using
discrete log as a trapdoor function, or the idea of using trapdoor
functions for key exchange. You're just writing in accord with the
algorithm they published.
Or did I?
Patents are odd that way; they bite independent inventions.
Hey, I *never* knowingly read about patented techniques. That doesn't
mean I won't accidentally implement one.
Rivest et al. could have kept their algorithm secret, and only sold
sealed boxes for performing in-line encryption. Instead, they
accepted a bargain with society in which they published their results,
allowing others to build on them, and received a monopoly on those
results for a period of time.
If you reject that bargain for software, that's fine -- but it means
you should reject both halves, and isolate yourself from hearing about
patented techniques like LZW compression, public key cryptosystems,
the tab key, etc. until after their patents have expired.
and filed for a patent.
Some companies file "defensively" on the "everyone else has bogus garbage
patents, we need some too" principle.
Yup. There are lots of junk patents. They outnumber the good ones,
as far as I can tell. The right way to fix that doesn't involve
diluting our concept of freedom. The right way to fix that is to fix
the patent-granting system.
If we proceed in diluting our concept of freedom -- if we say that
it's OK to be non-free if it's for a Really Good Social Cause, to
prevent and destroy these evil patents which keep software from
getting written -- then at some point Microsoft and friends will
convince part of the free software community to license software in
ways preventing copylefts, because these evil copylefts keep software
from getting written. After all, *you* didn't invent my
modifications, and shouldn't have any right to control what I do with
And in fact I don't have any such right, as long as you separate the
modifications out from the original.