Bonum Certa Men Certa

Software Patents and Tax; Is Sun Messing with MySQL's Mind?

No matter how much denial there will be, it is becoming clear that Microsoft's plan is to apply tax to Free software, rendering it Fee [sic] software. Ironically, at least in some sense, is that fact that taxation is the very same thing which now puts at jeopardy the notion and validly of software patents, without which there cannot be a 'tax' on Free software. Have a look at this article from Microsoft's universe of the Web (originally BusinessWeek, which forbids linking to):

The Internal Revenue Service has proposed new rules that would pull within its orbit any software patent that affects taxes, likely choking innovation.


Published in the LA Times, the following opinion piece questions the notion of "intellectual monopolies" in general and also raises the point that no government tax is applied to them, which indeed concurs with the observation that they cannot be property. It becomes rather philosophical.

In essence, Sigfrid is saying that something in unlimited supply can't be stolen. His position is a variation on a theme advanced by Mike Masnick of Techdirt.com, among others: that the entertainment industry's aggressive copyright-enforcement efforts spring from an outdated, analog-era notion of scarcity. Under this view, copyright holders are helped, not harmed, by file sharing and other online distribution pipelines; they just haven't adapted their business models to take advantage of the new opportunities. Supporters of this view include musicians, authors and filmmakers who say that that file sharing helped bring the exposure they needed to sell their works.


Getting back to the key issue at hand (Free software), when Sun acquired MySQL, the patent question came up (hat tip: Scott Mace). He brings a rather disturbing update:

Go to the MySQL Web site and try to click on the MySQL anti-software patent page, and you won't find it. It's the other shoe dropping as MySQL today became part of Sun Microsystems, which like the rest of the commercial software and services industry, considers software patents a necessary evil.


On the brighter side of things, MySQL is more likely to go GPLv3, according to CNET.

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