04.23.10

Free Software Enables Developing and Developed Countries to Unshackle Themselves From Intellectual Monopolies

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 7:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flag of Ecuador

Summary: The heartwarming story of Ecuador, the political opposition to software patents in New Zealand, and areas where patents stomp on people’s lives

Free software and intellectual monopolies are closely related subjects. We typically write about the latter only in our daily links though, because it is not the main focus of this Web site.

IP Watch has a decent new article about how “Free Software [Is] Used To Fight Piracy, Broaden Knowledge Access In Ecuador”

A joint project being launched by a regional non-profit group along with the Ecuador’s intellectual property office (IEPI) aims to reduce software piracy by offering a free software alternative through public libraries. The initiative is meant to encourage the use of legal software and thereby lower the piracy rate.

For the “Free Library” project, the Latin American Center for Intellectual Property Research for Development – known as Corporación Innovarte – has signed an agreement with the national IP office (IEPI), the Free Software Foundation of Ecuador and the associations of libraries. Corporación Innovarte aims to promote access to knowledge, innovation, and culture as tools for development.

The project is meant to use libraries as a vector to build a distribution channel for free software available to users. Free software will be offered as part of the usual library collections. The initiative will disseminate free software among the population, serving two goals: offering people different options while supporting the “spread of educational and research possibilities,” and contributing to the limitation of illegal software use.

Ecuador has already embraced ODF and it’s a solid breeding ground for software freedom, i.e. independence. Glyn Moody, who linked to the above article, has said that Microsoft won’t be happy. We have already shown how Microsoft responds to or retaliates against countries in south America if they ‘dare’ to deviate from Microsoft. A recent example, Argentina, may already be suing Microsoft for damages.

“We have already shown how Microsoft responds to or retaliates against countries in south America if they ‘dare’ to deviate from Microsoft.”Latin America is a victim not just of Microsoft; it has suffered a lot in recent decades, mostly because of imperialists, but we won’t go further into the subject because it’s politically charged.

Speaking of politics, it sure is nice when political parties take a stance specifically on software patents. There is a hot debate about it down under and the Labour party in New Zealand openly opposes software patents, based on NZOSS.

“The issue of who controls software that New Zealanders have developed is an important one. Copyright allows the developer to control the terms under which software is released. Patents remove that right and hand it over to a third party. Basically, software patents create a lottery around control of your own efforts.

“We are pleased that Commerce Minister Simon Power has said that the Government would support a select committee recommendation that the Intellectual Property Office develop guidelines for inventions that involve ‘embedded software’ – software that is built into a physical
device.

“Software will still be protected by copyright, which prevents outright copying. We believe this to be sensible and the right decision,” Clare Curran said.

The ‘embedded software’ trick deserves great scrutiny.

Beyond Software

We recently discussed gene patents (ownership of life’s secrets), which are probably declared void by precedence [1, 2]. Here is a timely new item from The Atlantic:

When Patents Kill Innovation

[...]

Michelle Geis points to a new report in Genetics in Medicine suggesting that “exclusive licensing of gene patents does more to block competition and decrease patients’ access to testing than it does to spur innovation.”

Over in India, the issue becomes more political as Indians rejected DNA/drug patents in order to maximise life and welfare. American Indians too (natives/First People) are disturbed by what they consider to be misuse of their DNA.

The Havasupai settlement appears to be the first payment to individuals who said their DNA was misused, several legal experts said, and came after the university spent $1.7 million fighting lawsuits by tribe members.

This story has more to do with invasion, not monopolisation. But either way, DNA patents belong to an area where patents mean death, in the form of TRIPS [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. This relates to ACTA provisions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14], whose impact on software freedom we wrote about earlier in the week and so did swpat.org. ACTA is disgracing developing countries, probably increasing deaths for the sake of profit, and it is all about intellectual monopoly. Do individual nations have the power to reject ACTA without being cornered and sanctioned against? It’s a rhetorical question.

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