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www.waraxe.us Forum Index -> General discussion -> The end Of open source as we know it?
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The end Of open source as we know it?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2005 12:27 pm Reply with quote
shai-tan
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Joined: Feb 22, 2005
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This is an artilcle I am planning to put in my college news paper (tell me what you think):

The End of Open Source as we know it?

Open Source (free) software, Linux and other Computer Operating Systems based around GNU/Linux are under threat from commercial interests that want to use Patents and Copyrights to ?protect? their works, by pursing projects and products that infringe on their own. That doesn?t seem wrong on the surface; most of us would agree that a person who invents something new or implements something in a creative way is entitled to the opportunity to benefit from their inventions without compensating the original creator. The problem is that big businesses are taking advantage of legislation in this area to prevent competition.
So how does this effect Linux?
Well Linux is a free Operating System for computers, which anybody can sell for a profit, give away, copy and modify if they wanted. It is based off the creation of the original Linux kernel and Operating System made by a university student, Linus Torvald, more than a decade ago which he named Linux after himself. Now you can see why big businesses have an interest in Linux because it is very popular and secure. But they can?t buy the whole of Linux because of the GPL (General Public License) and there being well over 200 different free distributions. They could buy their own distribution but in their eye that leaves much room for competition so they revert to copyrighting their own material and source code. This is not a threat in Linus Torvald?s eyes, his solution is to just remove the copyrighted and infringed code and replace it with something else. Software Patents are a much deeper problem. Because patents cover an idea or concept not an implementation of an idea, there is no way to get around the infringement. Again this would not be a problem except the system appears to be under heavy abuse. Patents are being taking out for software that has already been established in society or were someone else?s ideas in the first place. To defend against law suits takes big money. Most free software authors (like Linux developers) are not doing it for money so have nothing in reserve to fight off such attacks. It even costs money to submit a claim of ?prior art? that can be used to render a patent useless.
The patent system in America already grants computer software patents. Of course this also costs big money, therefore making it very difficult for the free software community to buy their own patents for defensive purposes. The players that win here are the large corporations that have the cash to burn on these kinds of exercises (so much for protecting the little person).
In the European Union software patents are already being granted even though it has not been decided if they are valid. In Australia, software patents are expected to be put in place as part of the free trade agreement. Its just a matter of time after that, that New Zealand will be the sheep that cannot think for itself.
Open Source Risk Management is a company that offers insurance against patent infringement; it published a report of a recent investigation into how exposed the Linux kernel may be to infringement. It found that 283 patents covered technology in the kernel, but that none of these had been validated through court proceedings. This just covered the kernel. If they looked into a full GNU/Linux distribution we may very well be looking at many more than a few hundred patents (that should not have been granted) to contend with.
However there is some hope within all of this gloom. Computer giant IBM has stated that it has no interest in using its large patent portfolio against Linux, because of the recent deals and co-operations with Red Hat Linux. This is fortunate as IBM registers more patents every year than any other company in the US. However the FFII (Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure) has stated that IBM is pushing for software patent laws to be bought into effect the EU (European Union). The good news of this is that IBM may very well use these patents to protect Linux as many other companies are planning to do.
Novell (the proud new owner of the GNU/Linux distribution SUSE) along with Red Hat and Mandrakesoft, market their distributions so they are safe from software patents as they have the money to do something about it. It is the full free distributions that have to worry. Red Hat (Linux) and MySql (web database) have joined the No Software Patents campaign as partners. The new NSP campaign is focused purely on fighting the introduction of defining and supporting software patent laws in the EU and is working with the FFII to do this.
Microsoft?s (it was only a matter of time before they joined the equation) over enthusiastic CEO Steve Ballmer recently gave a speech at Microsoft?s Asian Government Leaders Forum. There is nothing unusual about that, except for the near-explicit threat to use patents in Microsoft?s all out war against the rise Linux. ?Linux?, he claimed, ?has been found to violate 283 patents?. He further suggested, ?Somebody will come and look for money owing to the rights for that intellectual property? (that wasn?t even the patent owner?s idea in the first place). The OSRM (Open Source Risk Management) has been rather put out by the misrepresentation of their data, in this speech by Microsoft, because the OSRM actually only suggested that Linux may infringe these patents. The fact is that none have ever been upheld in a court of law, and many aren?t likely to be, because of the haphazard way in which patents are granted in the US, they are meaningless unless contested in court. It also begs the question of how many patents Microsoft products may infringe. But what company in its right mind would take on Microsoft?
The results of these issues could go one of two ways. If USA keeps software patents and all other countries do not make them law, Microsoft and other American software firms will become much less competitive if they are burdened with patent laws, leaving Linux and other open source products to prosper in the rest of the world. Or. Software patenting will sweep the world, burdening every software company and product with unwanted costs and infringements, which in turn destroy the Open Source paradise we currently have. This highlights the reason why software patents in the rest of the world should be avoided at all costs. Visit www.nosoftwarepatents.com and see what is happening, to prevent software patents.


Last edited by shai-tan on Fri Nov 26, 2010 3:51 am; edited 1 time in total

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Shai-tan

?In short: just say NO TO DRUGS, and maybe you won?t end up like the Hurd people.? -- Linus Torvalds
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 12:13 pm Reply with quote
shai-tan
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Joined: Feb 22, 2005
Posts: 477




I thought that this may have been worth commenting on. Its got a catchy title Razz

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Shai-tan

?In short: just say NO TO DRUGS, and maybe you won?t end up like the Hurd people.? -- Linus Torvalds
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The end Of open source as we know it?
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