sourmìlk wrote:Also, I don't see why reverse engineered software is necessarily morally acceptable. It's taking another person's innovation and design and, without his permission, profiting off of it. Unless you're talking about manually reverse engineered software (which requires innovation on the part of the engineer) and not just decompiled software.
Key words being clean room. See, decompiled software infringes on the copyright, because it copies the expression of the algorithm. Clean room reverse-engineering does not involve decompilation (which isn't exactly feasible at any rate) or disassembly. For example, Wine is clean room, reverse-engineered software, as is Android's Dalvik virtual machine.
sourmìlk wrote:The "it's just mathematics" argument doesn't work. Anything can be expressed as just mathematics. For example, if I were to scan the information contained within a patent into a computer. What is patentable is design. I don't see why it should matter that the design is expressed mathematically. That's a (pointless) theoretical argument that fails to solve the practical problem of how people protect their inventions.
Up until about 1995, courts agreed software algorithms were unpatentable because they are mathematics.
In the past claims to pure instructions were generally considered not patentable because they were viewed as "printed matter," that is, like a set of instructions written down on paper.
Except then, in In Re Beauregaurd, the USCAFC decided that it is patentable if you begin the patent with something like "A stock PC on which is loaded an algorithm to…", because in doing so, you are apparently creating a "new machine". But the Supreme Court recognises this is all loophole-abusing bullshit:
End Software Patents wrote:The Supreme Court ruled three times that prepending "a stock computer on which is loaded…" to an otherwise unpatentable algorithm is just a wording trick, designed to get around the established consensus that software and pure mathematics are not patentable. As one Supreme Court ruling explained: "Indirect attempts to obtain [software] patents … by drafting claims as a … machine or components thereof programmed in a given manner, rather than as a program itself, have confused the issue further and should not be permitted." Another ruling repeated this position, explaining that "insignificant postsolution activity will not transform an unpatentable principle into a patentable process. To hold otherwise would allow a competent draftsman to evade the recognized limitations on the type of subject matter eligible for patent protection."
How did the CAFC reconcile its rulings that loading software on a PC creates a "new machine" with the Supreme Court's statements? It didn't: none of the key rulings that established the concept of a "new machine" addressed the several statements by the Supreme Court that such reading of a software patent is just a wording trick.
KnightExemplar wrote:Software patents have their flaws. But if you're gonna tell me that MP3 isn't a significant improvement on the status quo at the time (or that H264 isn't better than OGG Thedora)... or that JPEG files and the LZW Compression algorithm aren't unique works in of themselves...
I really don't know what to say about that. These things have value, and it is appropriate to reward people and encourage engineers and scientists to create more of these.
Now... thats not necessarily saying that I agree with software patents in their current form (lol one-click shopping). But your argument is significantly more extreme than mine. You seem to be claiming that algorithms do not have any value.
You are dead wrong on that fact. Algorithms have a significant amount of value to them. Calling them "just mathematics" is rather insulting to people who come up with these sorts of things.
I am most certainly not saying they do not have value. But mathematics also has value. And up until recently, algorithms were never patentable. I mean, a Fourier analysis is "a unique work", as are algorithms for finding digits of pi and prime numbers, and integrating functions. But why should Fourier have been unable to patent, say, "a method of representing periodic functions as the sum of trigonometric functions", but Crapple to be able to patent an unlock button? It damn well has value, so what separates a patent on the Fourier transform from a software patent?
In all honesty, software algorithms are "just mathematics". You think it's insulting? Well, that's what they are. Saying it's insulting won't change that fact. Any program can be written in lambda calculus. Therefore, it is mathematics. The expression of the mathematics may be protected under copyright law, but the idea itself is not protected under patent law. The idea may have value, but that is completely irrelevant to whether or not it is patentable.
KnightExemplar wrote:Also, Libnitz vs Newton. Mathematicians have been complaining about stolen works forever.
Arariel wrote:(unless it's plagiarism, which is a different matter entirely)
But I have never heard anyone claiming calculus was "stolen" from Leibniz. People may have claimed Leibniz copied him, or say his work was hopelessly derivative, but to say he "stole" it would be just quite silly.
If you're still convinced software patents are a good idea, consider that if you sell products online, you could be violating at least 4,319 patents, advertising, receiving payments, or shipping goods online could violate around 11,000 (as of 2003, probably higher by this point),that the Green Bay Packers, Oprah Winfrey, Kraft Foods, and J. Crew, that Crapple can apparently sue someone for using squares with rounded corners on the basis of patent violations alone, that Amazon can patent buying something with one click, that among interviewed venture capitalists and programmers, none of them considered software patents, and that holders of software patents freely admit the primary purpose is no longer to encourage creativity, and maybe you'll reconsider.
Software patents are not used to protect the underdog from other people making money off of his or her ideas. They're used to protect the status quo. Companies holding many patents will go after companies that have few (Google until recently had less than a thousand patents), while avoiding each other because they'll be mutually sued to oblivion (hence why Google had attempted to acquire Motorola shortly before the Oracle suit, and acquired more than 17,000 patents). Mutually Assured Destitution, no doubt.
So the big companies definitely won't sue each other. Instead, they'll sue the small companies, the start-ups, the ones doing real innovating.
But all right, it's all for progress, and promotion of developing new stuff, and so on.