Subject: Re: Why software patents are bad
From: craig@jcb-sc.com
Date: 20 Sep 1999 15:14:24 -0000

[I'm pretty sure you sent yours to the list too, because I think I deleted
that message after saving the copy that came directly to me...but if not,
I apologize for quoting parts of your message to the list.]

>In other words, you agree with me in principle ...

Oh, absolutely.  I came close to writing a rant like yours in my email,
but am now especially glad I saved myself (and everyone else) the time,
as your was much better than what I could have come up with!

>    craig> So as long as this "let's punish beyond the issue of this
>    craig> one plaintff and this one defendant, and send a message"
>    craig> mentality governs our legal system (especially in civil
>    craig> courts), I'd hope the courts would view free software as
>    craig> benefitting the public, since it clearly does.
>
>... but are willing to follow society in practice?

Personally?  No.  In essence, I just hope the courts don't view
the free-software community as less deserving of its "special
dispensation" than they've (as an aggregate, admittedly) viewed
individuals (especially stupid ones who take ridiculous risks
and want to punish others for it) or corporations (especially stupid
ones who are unable to compete without getting what amounts to
military help enforcing their desires without bothering to go through
the legislative process).

What that means, in practice, is that I'm unlikely to personally
ask the courts to do things to others I wouldn't want them do to
me under the same circumstances.

But, I'd like to think the courts and juries, though I believe they've
stepped over the bounds, would, assuming they perceive themselves
(collectively) as "fair", continue to implement their idea of fairness,
until society at large clearly communicates the need for a new concept
of fairness vis-a-vis the legal system.

>None of us would be here if we did that in business :-)

Oh, I'm not sure...it can perhaps be argued that we all, or most of us,
make some less-than-perfectly-principled accommodations to things
we recognize as evils when others do them, due to their being so
widespread that we can't figure out how to flourish in this community
otherwise.

I.e. living strictly by the Golden Rule (which can be interpreted as
scrupulously avoiding being a hypocrite, I suppose) is a very difficult
task on the whole, because it requires not just adjusting one's
behavior, but constantly refining what one considers an acceptable way
to be treated.

For example, I feel I *generally* do a good job of adjusting my
behavior, especially vis-a-vis actions (vs. speech), but there's
no doubt in my mind I have nowhere near a full understanding of
exactly how I would *like* to be treated.  There is, as there pretty
much always has been throughout history, just too much noise in the
behavior of society (including myself) to be certain I've found the
signal, so to speak.

        tq vm, (burley)