Bonum Certa Men Certa

Patenting and Licensing Algorithms is Controlling Culture

Free culture and patents won't mix

In an interview a couple of months ago, Eben Moglen argued that patenting a set of instructions as though they were a personal idea is the end of culture, just as the end of the command line is the end of language. One could go further and say that patenting vital prescription drugs is also the end of humanity, as the following item from yesterday reminds us.

....maybe time for society to consider health and medicine as "the commons"...


By preventing access not only to algorithmic routines, but also to life-saving routines, nobody benefits. People die. Life becomes a question of economics. Sometimes, on the other hand, it is only about science and convenience. Consider last week's developments in the Nokia-Qualcomm patent spat.

Nokia has filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Qualcomm has engaged in unfair trade practices by infringing five Nokia patents in its CDMA and WCDMA/GSM chipsets. Nokia is requesting that the ITC initiate an investigation and issue an exclusion order to bar importation to the United States of infringing Qualcomm chipsets, and products such as handsets, containing the infringing chipsets.


The consumer certainly does not benefit from embargoes. There are some details here. In a similar fashion, ownership of misuse of people's art has led musician to the ideaology which resembles open source. They realise there was a better way.

OurSpace: Resisting the Corporate Control of Culture

[...]

Finally, her argument for the third strategy examines a "free culture" movement inspired by open source software, using innovations in artistic licensing through Creative Commons, a project housed in Stanford, as an example.


This brings us to Novell, whose conflicting interests involve a corporation (shareholders too) and a community. Novell made its choice when it signed a deal with Microsoft. Characterizing the Novell/Microsoft deal as one of "the Microsoft patent deals", the following new article is able to realise that "Interoperability" is just a decoy and by no means the core of the deal. Interoperability as they call it is the means by which patent elements of the deal can be justified. In other words, Microsoft contends that interoperability requires patent deals. When ownership of simple ideas is required for communication, it's betrayal of cultural basics. The short article says that it is hard to find positive aspects in the deal.

Few events have created more fodder for the blogosphere, more fuel for Microsoft critics and more emotional responses than the Microsoft patent deals with Novell, Linspire and Xandros. While putting together a list of things people hate about these deals is easy, generating a list of positive aspects is much harder.

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