Digital rights Law & Freedom

Software Patents and Innovation stimulation

Ford Model T, 1926

In Mexico, we don’t have software patents and recently, New Zealand has also banned software patents in an effort to get rid of patent trolls.

A few days ago while talking with a book author and lawyer, I mentioned my interest in copyright and patent law, as they affect my field of work constantly, even though I’m not living in the US. I mentioned that in Mexico we don’t have software patents. That you cannot patent an idea, only inventions. And she asked: “what’s the incentive to create something, if when you do, others can come by and steal your work? That doesn’t seem like a good idea”. I answered that you could copyright software, but not patent it. This way we don’t have patent trolls in Mexico, who only patent an idea but never do anything practical with it, and make it hard for anyone who tries.

Henry Ford revolutionized the car industry, but first he had to fight the patent on the automobile to sell his affordable cars. The owners of the patent were not granting him a license because they didn’t want common people to buy cars. The car patent owners didn’t built any cars, their only business was charging for licenses on every car built by manufacturers, raising the final cost of the car to the customer. If its innovation what we want, patent monopolies are not the answer.

After thinking some more on that conversation, my answer would be: “then I would make it better”. Free use of ideas are a better fuel for innovation, and a constant threat to your business is a great motivation to improve yourself. Market protection will only make it very comfortable to sit on an idea an do nothing to continuously improve and get creative.

New Zealand has also joined this mindset banning software patents by declaring that software is not a patentable invention.

Ford Model T Grille

As a side note, Ford’s Model-T was almost entirely made of hemp (marijuana) resin and initially ran on hemp ethanol, not gasoline. Later Rockefeller’s oil companies changed that.

GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source

A message from Richard Stallman on Software Freedom Day

Richard Stallman, the initiator of the Free Software movement, published a very easy to understand video message on what software freedom is about.

If you can’t see the video, you can download Richard Stallman’s video message here.

If you wonder why there’s no embedded Flash video version from a site like Youtube, please download the video, watch it and you’ll get your answer. (Although if only I could restrict Youtube to make it webm format only, that might be okay)

Digital rights Law & Freedom GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source News

More ugly stories about depending on cloud computing

Depending on “the cloud” to provide all software has increasingly shown some of its issues. What’s strange is that not many people are concerned about it.

Google marking all sites as unsafe

Google marked all search results as unsafe websites, and when you clicked on the link, it warned you again and you had to agree to go to the website. This might not cause a big issue for computer savvy people that know where they’re going, but for other people (and that actually read warning messages) this might scared them away. Probably a lot of business was lost from users going for the first time to a site and got this warning.

You can read more about this at:

Youtube’s fair use massacre

Warner music and Youtube have been taking down videos with copyrighted music on this service. If you have a video of your kid dancing to a Warner music song, so someone is whistling one or if its in the background of your birthday video, it might be taken down.

The EFF has called this “The fair use massacre” since these videos are righfully using the material under fair use terms but they are being taken down anyway.

You can read more about this with these links:

It is becoming more and more evident that support for free networking service software is needed before we loose our data and specially our freedom. Support projects like Laconica with Identica being its biggest implementation (follow me on identica”), Wikipedia, Launchpad (now that it will be AGPL licensed), Elgg and many others listed here. Learn more about free network services at the website.

“Before the storm” image is Creative Commons by Steve Wall.