Subject: Re: Examples needed against Soft Patents
From: Russell McOrmond <>
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004 09:30:26 -0500 (EST)

(I hope someone is going to summarize this discussion in the end.)

On Tue, 28 Dec 2004, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:

> Drugs that are never innovated are a public health issue.

  Agreed.  This is why I have never agreed with the privatization of
health policy into the hands of those few who have exclusive rights in
this area.  I believe that health development must be guided by the
multiplicity of motivations that are possible in an open collaborative
development environment, rather than the very narrow vision possible with
pure profit motivation that exists in a closed proprietary development

>     Russell> FLOSS provides for resource multiplication.
> s/multiplication/division/

  That is your view, and it is very different than mine.  If I work on one
part of a problem and someone else works on another, and we both receive
the value-add of the combination of our work then this is obviously
resource multiplication.

  You can only believe it is resource division if you believe that
centralizing the decision making process will lead to decisions that will
provide solutions that you need.  It is the whole "benevolent
dictatorship" theory that suggest that having a dictatorship is
"efficient" as long as the dictator is making decisions you agree with,
but is obviously beyond "inefficient" if the dictator is making decisions
you disagree with.  With that centralization of decision making you have a
situation that no amount of application of your own resources can change
the decision (short of a bloody war to remove the dictator), which is a
near infinitely inefficient system.

>     Russell> This is the business model I use for software
>     Russell> development,
> And how many of those programs had to pass $50 million worth of tests
> before you were allowed to sell them?

  You are trying to equate two entirely different issues.  One issue
relates to the development of health knowledge, and the other is
commercialization and publicly regulated distribution of the fruits of
that development.

  The criteria for implimentation of new software for my small enterprise
customers are going to be extremely different than those of a
multinational bank or a government.  This additional testing that is 
required is a separate level of the process which isn't necessary for my 
clients, but would be for others.  The costs of this additional testing 
can also be amortized over a number of large enterprise customers to 
reduce the resources that are needed by any single enterprise.

  This issue was discussed many times in the context of government
security cerfitication of Linux, a problem that like others in this area
was solved with far less resources expended by any individual organization
than the equivalent problem in a closed proprietary development model.

  Farmers have through open collaborative plant breeding techniques helped
improve seeds over many thousands of years without any exclusive rights.  
This did not mean that there were no food inspection agencies or
regulation of food quality required to widely publicly distribute this
food, it just meant that the process by which seeds and farming processes
improved was open and collaborative.

  The same IMHO flawed logic that is making you suggest that open 
collaborative development models won't work in pharmaseuticals is being 
used to pretend those thousands of years of open collaborative plant 
breeding never happened.  We now see outsiders to the farming community 
seeking more and more plant breeding rights and "genetic sequence" patents 
(which are a derivative of information process patents -- IE: the same 
nonsense we are fighting with software patents) in order to gain 
centralized power over the means of production and distribution of food.

  The dark irony of this situation is that they claim it will solve hunger
problems when everyone who has rationally studied the problem concluded
that hunger is not a food production (amount of food) issue, but a food
distribution issue.  Centralizing the means of production and distribution
of food into the hands of a few for-profit patent holders can only
INCREASE hunger and resulting deaths, not solve this huge worldwide issue.

 Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <> 
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