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01.21.11

Larry Page Should Start by Abolishing Software Patents

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Google, Patents at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Larry Page in the European Parliament

Summary: Google’s new CEO Larry Page would be wise to protect his company from attacks by eliminating the real source of this problem

THE current debate about Chrome and WebM became a broader debate about proprietary/patents-encumbered codecs versus free ones. We covered this a couple of days ago because Microsoft boosters are lying.

One of our readers noticed this MPEG LA announcement which everyone appears to have overlooked. MPEG LA is calling for even more patents.

MPEG LA invites any party that believes it has patents that are essential to the MVC Standard to submit them by February 18, 2011 for evaluation of their essentiality by MPEG LA’s patent evaluators in order to participate in the creation of, and determine licensing terms for, a joint MVC patent license.

Steve Jobs, who has just vanished again, warned that his mates at MPEG LA (run by a patent troll) will fight against free codecs using patents. This one person seems to agree if not corroborate too. The opening says:

People say I am a troll, a hater of Open Source, an H.264 fan boy, a dozen other things, but I am just a realist. (And was on the SMPTE VC1 Ratification committee).

The title by the way is “Google Will Have To Pony Up To Mpeg LA: Why WebM Is NOT Going To Be Royalty Free”.

As one person put it in Twitter, it is better to have a free format/codec which may later come under dispute for Google to resolve than to go straight into the codec Hell offered by the MPEG LA cartel.

“Help those who actively support abolishing software patents.”Google would be wise to lobby for shutdown of software patents, but as we noted before, Google’s patents database for the US shows that it is part of the problem (see this ludicrous patent). Google says: “Because of our long-term interests in open source, we may not have adequate patent protection for certain innovations” [via Benjamin Henrion].

Fine, Google. Then get rid of patents already. Help those who actively support abolishing software patents. The wrath of MPEG LA is only relevant to the United Stated and Japan, where software patents are formally acknowledged as valid. Changing this is not an impossible task. SJVN said last night that “[w]hen [he] spoke with Chris DiBona, Google’s open-source program manager, a few years back when Google was big but not yet Google, DiBona told [him], that Page was “passionate about open source.” DiBona added, that Google also supported its engineers working on “open-source and Linux,” and that “many of them use part of their time to work on open-source projects.”” Unlike Page, Eric Schmidt defended intellectual property (“fundamental to how we operate”).

Someone should pressure Mr. Page to start rebelling against the US patent system, which also harms Android. Software patents are neither Google’s friend nor society’s friend. Do no evil, Google, and help us get rid of those evil software patents.

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