Comments on Perens' Comments on Software Patents

Monday 15 November 2010 by Bradley M. Kuhn

Bruce Perens and I often disagree about lots of things. However, I urge everyone to read what Bruce wrote this weekend about software patents. I'm very glad he's looking deep into recent events surrounding this issue; I haven't had the time to do so myself because I've been so busy with the launch of my full-time work at Conservancy this fall.

Despite my current focus on getting Conservancy ramped up with staff, so it can do more of its work, I nevertheless still remain frightfully concerned about the impact of software patents on the future of software freedom, and I support any activities that seek to make sure that software patent threats do not stand in the way of software freedom. Bruce and I have always agreed about this issue: software patents should end, and while individuals with limited means can't easily make that happen themselves, we must all work to raise awareness and public opinion against all patenting of software.

Specifically, I'm really glad that Bruce has mentioned the issue of lobbying against software patents. Post-Bilski, it's become obvious that software patents can only be ended with legislative change. In the USA, sadly, the only way to do this effectively is through lobbying. Therefore, I've called on businesses (such as Google and Red Hat), that have been targets of software patent litigation, to fund lobbying efforts to end software patents; such funding would simultaneously help themselves as well as software freedom. Unfortunately, as far as I'm aware, no companies have stepped forward to fund such an effort, and they instead seem to spend their patent-related resources on getting more software patents of their own. Meanwhile, individual, not-for-profit Free Software developers simply don't have the resources to do this lobbying work ourselves.

Nevertheless, there are still a few things individual developers can do in the meantime against software patents. I wrote a complete list of suggestions after Bilski; I just reread it and confirmed all of the suggestions listed there are still useful.

Posted on Monday 15 November 2010 at 12:45 by Bradley M. Kuhn.

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Both previously and presently, I have been employed by and/or done work for various organizations that also have views on Free, Libre, and Open Source Software. As should be blatantly obvious, this is my website, not theirs, so please do not assume views and opinions here belong to any such organization. Since I do co-own ebb.org with my wife, it may not be so obvious that these aren't her views and opinions, either.

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