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Point 5 (Re: Debian "Position" on Software Patents)

Hi Jose,

Jose Luis Rivas wrote:
On 04/11/2012 09:37 PM, Filipus Klutiero wrote:
> Hi,
> in February, Stefano Zacchiroli added a document titled "Debian Position on

>  5. A request/demand that people concerned with specific patent issues do not
>     share their concerns, except with the contact point mentioned in 3.
> 1. is fairly obvious. 2. is welcome, although I suppose this is just
> officializing a stance we were already taking. 3. can be considered a specific
> case of our pretty obvious desire to have our bugs reported. 4. is excellent
> news. 5. is, however, anti-transparency, and IMO against our ethics. Such a
> position statement cannot be made prior to discussion. Since it looks like this
> wasn't discussed yet, I am hereby lauching a public discussion on 5. This is not
> a poll, but I'd like to see the opinions of others on it. and whether it is
> unanimous or not.
> Leaving the validity of 5. aside, I find that this document is very confusing.
> It's not just a policy, and it's talking to several groups. I suggest:
>   * To separe 1. , 3. and 4. from the rest. These could be grouped in a document
>     on intellectual property explaining that Debian takes into account both
>     copyright and patents and offering contact points for reporting/discussing
>     specific IP issues.
>   * To consider merging 2. with the social contract:
>     http://www.debian.org/social_contract
>     The free software guidelines could be modified to specify that our freedom
>     requirements apply not only to copyright licenses, but also to patent licenses.
>     A modification of a Foundation Document requires a 3:1 majority, but I don't
>     think this would be hard to reach.
> Thanks to MJ Ray for his reply when I asked about this document's origins.


The point 5 is because when comes to patent stuff you mess up with legal things
that, ironically, contradict the natural behavior of people. If you don't know
anything about the patent then is OK to brake it in some way, in fact, I
remember there were suggestions during the discussion to not read patents,
because you may be getting knowledge that would stop you from writing software
based on those ideas, even if you could bring up the same conclusion by yourself.

Is it not "OK" to infringe a patent, even if you don't know about it: http://www.internationallawoffice.com/newsletters/detail.aspx?g=90017a20-f34a-456d-b564-a5d0a6185cdf

Anyway, back at point 5, making it exclusively through patents@debian.org makes
it confidential even at the level than in a courtroom it can't be asked to
disclose the content of that discussion because of the attorney-client
privilege. Something that is not true even if you send your concern to
debian-private instead of a public list like this.

Yes, this is explained in point 3 of http://www.debian.org/legal/patent.en.html

The legal battles are like wars, you can't give your strategy to your opponent
and that's what point 5 tries to address.

That's not how I see legal "battles". Trials are a civilized way to resolve disputes. There is no need for strategy.

The kind of feedback I would like to get on point 5 is:
  • New arguments for it
  • People's opinions on whether they support or reject adopting it, overall

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