Subject: Why not let IBM do it (figure out the patent thing)
From: "Karsten M. Self" <kmself@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 08:33:38 +0000

Pulling a thread from "Why software patents are bad"....

"Stephen J. Turnbull" wrote:

> "kms" == Karsten M Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com> writes:

>     kms> If a company such as IBM can come up with a document like the
>     kms> IBM PL, I think there's a pretty good chance we can pull it
>     kms> off.
> 
> I'll have to take a closer look at it.  But if so, why don't you let
> _them_ do it?  They have no philosophical burden.

IBM writes IBM's Public Source License.  Which is to say, it reflects
IBM's POV, needs, strengths, and concerns.  The IPSL is a pretty good
document (it's worlds better than the first two Jikes licenses). 
However I'm struck by the fact that it is still largely focussed on
patents -- both in rights granted and rights rescinded under termination
clauses.  

As I observed when commenting on the license, if the effect of one party
launching a patent attack on the other is that the two then mutually
revoke rights to patents granted under the license, the playing field
seems slanted in the favor of the party with the larger portfolio (more
potentially infringed patents, more staying power in court).  This is a
naive view -- I'm not familiar with patent litigation -- but I'm given
to understand that it is in some ways a war of attrition.

The philosophical burden of the Free Software Foundation and similar
organizations is to consider the situation, needs, and resources of the
individual software developer, among others.  While the IPSL might be
effective for IBM, I don't think its utility is universal.

-- 
Karsten M. Self (kmself@ix.netcom.com)
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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