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Re: Patent clauses in licenses

On Wed, Sep 22, 2004 at 02:09:18PM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> Respectively: the freedom to prosecute with and defend yourself 
> against patent accusations; the freedom to bear arms; and the freedom 
> to use nuclear technology. Of course, not all jurisdictions allow 
> those freedoms, but that's determined by laws, not by copyright 
> licences.

And again, I don't believe "the freedom to prosecute with patent
accusations" is an important "freedom" to protect, any more than
"freedom to take my software proprietary".  I think it's valid and
legitimate for a free license to restrict this "freedom".

I do think that "the freedom to defend yourself against patent
accusations with patent accusations" is (unfortunately) important,
and that licenses doing the above shouldn't overstep and prevent it.

I could accept the conclusion "restricting freedom to prosecute with
patent accusations is acceptable in and of itself, but side-effects
restricting patent defense are unavoidable, rendering all known
implementations of this non-free in practice", or alternatively
"... but all known implementations have possible abuses", but we're
not quite there yet.

> Mainly because most possible uses have unpleasant side-effects in some 
> cases. "Software hoarding" is a description of a copyright-based 
> problem, if you are referring to rms's "Why Software Should Be Free". 
> It seems just to use copyright to solve it. Why should we use 
> copyright against patent law, instead of encouraging patent-afflicted 
> developers to find ways to use patenting against itself?

People taking your work, enhancing it, and distributing binaries without
source, is not a copyright-based problem at all, but it's still dealt with
via copyright.

Perhaps it would be nice and poetically just if patents could be turned
against patents in a way that was practical for free software; but that
doesn't convince me that using copyright against patents is inherently

Glenn Maynard

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