Re: Software patents and Debian
Thank Adam for hir detailed explanation.
In fact, other people in this maillist used to give similar opinions,
but not in a so detailed (and clear) way.
I used to give such an assertion"any patent, unless it is licensed for
everyone's free use or not licensed at all, is against the DFSG." Now
through Adam's explanation, and the whole discussion in this mail list
as well, I come to know that my assertion is wrong. Thank everyone who
participated in this discussion.
BTW, I still think we should put some software in main/Non-US, if the
distribution of them is a violence of the patent law in US.
Adam Borowski wrote:
> Yes, because DFSG can apply only to relations between you and those
> involved in the given piece of software. Thus, if the creator of the
> program in question grants us only limited rights, this would be a
> DFSG issue regardless if it's a matter of copyright, patents, "moral
> rights" or the Totem Law of the kingdom of Kbanga.
> On the other hand, it is infeasible to care about _third parties_.
> If I write a piece of software and give it to you, we need to care
> about the laws of Poland and Italy; there is no problem if some
> random punk in the US has a patent -- and in fact, for any given
> piece of software a number of such punks exist. One of recent
> patents covers telnet, ssh and the like -- should we pull them from
> Debian? The only reason to comply with patent terrorism is when the
> punk is especially litigious.
> The whole concept of patent goes completely against the ideas of
> capitalism and free market. Free market relies on _scalable_ laws
> and patents don't scale. They work differently for small and big
> countries, fail when you deal with entities not within the same
> patent system, break unless you have perfect instantenous
> communication within the system, and so on. They are
> government-granted monopolies and thus they fail whenever you look at
> something smaller or bigger than a country.
> To the contrary, DFSG are infinitely scalable. They work as well for
> a castaway on a desert island, a dissident or a world-wide
> corporation. Copyrights, with all their downsides, are scalable as
> well so they can be handled by DFSG well. Patents can't.
> So, I would say that there is no way for a third party to influence
> the freeness of a given piece of software. Otherwise, Debian would
> have to exclude anything that's illegal in North Korea, China or the
> self-described "Land of the Free".