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Groklaw: Software Patents are Like Smoking

Oct 27, 2005, 01:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Marten Mickos)

"Society crossed an invisible but decisive border when it started to allow patents not only on tangible inventions but also on computer software. It must have felt good at the time, but today it is becoming increasingly obvious that software patents do no good. In that regard software patents are like smoking--it started with an experiment to improve health. It tasted quite good and it soon became a fashion statement. But today smoking kills not only those who smoke but also those who breathe nearby. And yet it is very difficult to completely eradicate smoking. Those who smoke stubbornly defend their right to do so. Perhaps there is even an argument to be made where smoking is good in some circumstances. But overall it is a habit that would deserve to be stopped. The same applies to software patents.

"The rights of an inventor or author need to be properly protected. Otherwise we will soon have no inventions or new creations. But when it comes to software, copyright is quite sufficient protection. In my mind software should be treated like architecture, music, literature, and journalism and not like mechanics, electronics or biochemistry or other traditional industries. Here is my logic..."

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