Subject: Re: Novel anti-software-patent article
From: Lynn Winebarger <owinebar@free-expression.org>
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2000 20:43:54 -0500 (EST)

On Thu, 6 Jan 2000, DJ Delorie wrote:

> I wish copyright expired like trademarks, due to lack of use.  If,
> say, a book (or series) went out of publication for N years, the
> copyright would default to the public, but if it stayed in print it
> would remain copyrighted for a longer time.
> 
> Software, for example, has a very limited lifespan.  A 75 year
> copyright on a program that's only produced for a year and useless
> after five years is pointless.
> 
   This is a good argument for only working on free software, but not
for eliminating copyright on software.  I for one think programming
languages can be quite usefully employed for conveying information by
themselves, particularly if you want to communicate with precision about a
particular algorithm or set of algorithms (or variations among
implementations of an algorithm).  Hence I might write a text on a family
of algorithms and include program source that does much of the explanatory
work.  If I do a really good job, that text can still be useful far in the
future.  I would say it would roughly correspond to how mathematics
textbooks age gracefully when well-written, even with changes in notation
and vocabulary.  CS in not old enough as an independent field to really
judge this yet, though I'd think Knuth's texts are a good start.

Lynn