Subject: Re: [Fwd: Speaker for the Free]
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 11:50:53 +0100

Thanks again to Tim and a few others, who reacted to my original message.

However I am still waiting for a reply by Drummond Reed, or for more
comments on (allegedly) his statement.



On Fri, Oct 27, 2000 at 08:43:26AM -0700, Tim O'Reilly wrote:
> Adam, I thought you or Drummond might want to respond to this.  And if
> it was not your intent to support the patent stuff at the European
> commission, it would be great if Drummond sent input saying that wasn't
> what he meant.  It's really important that patent advocates don't get to
> win this fight in Europe, because there's this game where the US patent
> office says "we have to harmonize with other countries" and then pushes
> other countries in the direction that they want the US to go.  It's kind
> of an extra-national lobbying game.
> When you asked if I would consider being on the board of, and I
> declined, it was because of this kind of ambiguous position with regard
> to openness.  As you know, unlike Richard Stallman, I support the
> fundamental position that it's OK to have private intellectual property
> rights, even on top of a free software base (that's why I prefer
> Berkeley style licenses in most cases), but I am extremely wary when
> patents, rather than copyrights, are used to assert those rights.  The
> scope of protection given by patents is so much greater than the rights
> granted by copyright that it seems to me that they almost always tip the
> balance too far in the direction of the rights of creators and away from
> the rights of the public.  When you add to that the fact that the PTO
> makes it ridiculously easy to get a patent, the system is so badly
> broken that any encouragement to it is dangerous.
> If you agree, please ask Drummond to communicate to the EC commission
> looking into software patents that his words are being taken out of
> context.
> -- 
> Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
> 101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472
> +1 707-829-0515, FAX +1 707-829-0104
> Return-Path: <>
> Received: from ( [])
> 	by (8.11.0/8.11.0) with ESMTP id e9RCkIj14508
> 	for <>; Fri, 27 Oct 2000 05:46:19 -0700 (PDT)
> Received: from ( [])
> 	by (8.11.0/8.10.1) with SMTP id e9RCkBG08518
> 	for <>; Fri, 27 Oct 2000 08:46:11 -0400 (EDT)
> Received: (qmail 30405 invoked by alias); 27 Oct 2000 12:46:41 -0000
> Mailing-List: contact; run by ezmlm
> Delivered-To: mailing list
> Received: (qmail 30398 invoked from network); 27 Oct 2000 12:46:40 -0000
> Message-ID: <>
> Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 14:50:49 +0200
> From: Bernard Lang <>
> To:
> Cc: Bernard Lang <>
> Subject: Speaker for the Free
> Reply-To: Bernard Lang <>
> Mime-Version: 1.0
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> X-Mailer: Mutt 0.93.2
> X-Mozilla-Status2: 00000000
> ------------
> I am told the following quote is from Drummond Reed, President of
> Onename, who created the XNS open source platform :
>      "I think it's important to draw the distinction that open source
>      is invariably used to create an interoperable platform, i.e., a
>      common body of source code that creates a foundation on top of
>      which applications can be built. The goal of open source is to
>      make sure that IP rights or other proprietary rights do not
>      interfere with that platform. However all platforms exist to
>      support applications built "on top" of that platform. Windows
>      applications, Linux applications, Perl applications, etc. I've
>      yet to see an open source license that required applications
>      built on top of its platform to cede back IP rights - clearly
>      that would destroy incentive to use that platform.
>       So the value of IP rights which might encompass a platform fall
>      primarily on the value of being able to protect applications
>      built on top of the platform. The rest of the rights necessary
>      to create the platform are often most valuable when given away
>      -open sourced -in order to incent growth of the platform that
>      makes the applications valuable. It's that simple."
>   It is being used in a document (page 4 of the PDF document below)
> published by a directorate of the European Commission, and used as
> evidence in a consultation concerning software patenting, to assert
> the compatibility of patenting and free software.  One of the issues
> in the consultation is the fact the software patenting can harm
> open-source/free software.
>   see the context on page 3 of the paper (or in the post-scriptum below):
>   and for the political context:
>   I do not know Drummond Reed, and I do not know whether he is aware
> of the role his words are now playing.
>   My questions:
>    - what are your comments ?
>    - how representative is Drummond Reed of the free software community ?
>   (and any original comment you care about software patenting)
> Cordialement
>    Bernard Lang
> PS
> If you do not wish to look up the document, here is the context
> preceeding the quote.
>      Developers of open-source software
>        All the above discussion applies to developers of open-source
>      software but there are some important additional
>      features. Open-source software is an important alternative to
>      proprietary platforms. An example of the growing importance of
>      open-source software is the support being given by IBM. (This
>      involvement by IBM is, we believe, a straightforward response to
>      customer needs.) A necessary feature of the propagation of
>      open-source software is copyright and the cascade licensing of
>      it e.g. through the GNU General Public License. The open-source
>      community considers patents a threat to the development of
>      open-source software and aims to ensure that patents do not
>      affect such development. This is a consistent position. The GNU
>      General Public License contains the statement "we have made it
>      clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use
>      or not licensed at all". There is an analogy here to the
>      position on patents in some standards, informal or formal.
>         However this position on patents could well
>      change. Developers of open source software may find it
>      advantageous to file patents to obtain bargaining positions
>      e.g. licence money from owners of proprietary platforms. In any
>      case the historical postion of the open source community is
>      compatible with recognition that a developer could in any case
>      want to obtain patents on specific applications. This point has
>      been made by a number of people we have consulted. The
>      importance of this can be illustrated by the following quote
>      from one of them:
>      [then the above quote from Drummond Reed]
> -- 
>          Non aux Brevets Logiciels  -  No to Software Patents
>            SIGNEZ    SIGN
>             ,_  /\o    \o/    Tel  +33 1 3963 5644
>  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^  Fax  +33 1 3963 5469
>             INRIA / B.P. 105 / 78153 Le Chesnay CEDEX / France
>          Je n'exprime que mon opinion - I express only my opinion

         Non aux Brevets Logiciels  -  No to Software Patents
           SIGNEZ    SIGN             ,_  /\o    \o/    Tel  +33 1 3963 5644  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^  Fax  +33 1 3963 5469
            INRIA / B.P. 105 / 78153 Le Chesnay CEDEX / France
         Je n'exprime que mon opinion - I express only my opinion