Subject: Re: Why software patents are bad
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 16:46:26 -0400 (EDT)

L. Peter Deutsch writes:
 > > Different reason entirely for the different laws.  Patents prevent a
 > > public goods problem.
 > 1) If a sophisticated further analysis is needed to justify a simplistic
 > statement, please don't go around making the simplistic statement as though
 > it was self-evident and stood on its own.

Not justify.  Explain.  I assume that not everyone understands the
term "public goods problem."

 > 2) Why doesn't the same argument apply to copyright?

It does, but much less forcefully, and mostly in the opposite
direction.  If I have GPL'ed source code, and someone uses it in a
proprietary program, I have trouble enforcing my copyright.  I'm not
likely, though, to incorporate someone else's proprietary, sourceless
code into my open source program.  So, if open source is a good thing,
then we want strong copyright protection, since copyrights are used to
protect open source.

By the way, I'll take this moment to reiterate my suggestion to
authors of copyrighted open source code to register it.  If you don't
register your open source copyright, you can't collect treble damages
for infringement.  And given Redhat's ten-digit market capitalization,
we might have reasonable cause for claiming actual monetary damages
for infringement on a free software copyright.

-russ nelson <>
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