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Why "open source" is not "free software"

Feb 12, 2009, 14:31 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dario Borghino)

"Suppose just for a single moment that you're a student reading a Physics book which explains the Theory of Relativity. You are able to read the book, use the notorious formula E=mc^2 to solve all of your exercises and, if you're a particularly brilliant student, perhaps even start from there to come up with a new formula leading to a new scientific discovery. In other words, the scientific knowledge is in the public domain, free for everybody to use, modify and redistribute -- you don't have to pay a royalty to Einstein's nephew every time you solve a difficult physics exercise or you daydream about time-space travel.

"The world of technology, on the other hand, is largely dominated by patents, which makes it a "closed" and competitive model, in which knowledge is rarely shared without money being involved. Companies strive to patent their latest technological innovation and maximize their capitalization, as one might expect. Sadly this has a number of important consequences: the license with which a patented item is distributed to the public often prohibits reverse-engineering and, in general, any attempt at understanding the mechanism through which that piece of technology works."

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