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Comment Re:how to delineate software patents? (Score -1) 147

It's a simple, although logic-free, line of reasoning

Software is easy to copy, therefore the entitlement generation and their antecedents in thought process from prior generations feel like they should be allowed to take whatever they want for free. The justification for this desire is that their personal greed is more compelling than the greed of others.

At least this is what I've gathered from seriously querying various Slashdotters over the last 10 years. Every single answer led to that justification. Those with a modicum of cleverness dressed it up in the "benefit to society" clothing, and those who didn't really pay attention to what they were saying touted it as "innovation." That last one always makes me laugh - clearly it's the height of innovation to take something someone else made without recompense.

Comment Re:Proposal (Score 1) 147

Ok, let's be fundamental about this. Isn't it strange that we should consider "software" as different from other intellectual property? If X hours of work have been invested into the invention of a clever software routine, then, it would be strange if a patent could not be granted for that work while a patent would be granted for some physical apparatus that also took X hours to develop. (Don't think about the stupid "one-click-buy" software patents, but more along the lines of an ingenious differential-equation solver).

So, I don't think a law that says "patents are granted, but not for software" would be a good one. If we would abolish patents, we should do it in all fields.

I disagree.

First, patents are not granted on the basis of the effort expended to invent a patentable invention. The sweat of the brow theory is just as much bunk for patents as it is for copyrights.

Second, the purpose of patents is to encourage the invention, disclosure, and bringing to market of inventions which otherwise would not be invented, disclosed, and brought to market, and where the restrictions on the public are as minimal as possible in both scope and duration. Patents have an inherent negative effect on invention, disclosure, and bringing to market, and so it is important that the incentive is large enough to spur on more of this behavior than it inescapably deters. Further, patents inherently limit the freedom of the public to practice the invention, and tend to have negative effects on the market due to the monopolistic prices the patent holder can charge, so it it is important that the positive benefits of the patent for the public also outweigh the inescapable negative effects it has on the public.

What's interesting about the software and business method fields is that there are many natural incentives for invention, and bringing to market. And while formal disclosure could still be useful, the system is gamed to make disclosures unhelpful and at any rate obervation of the patents in practice in these fields usually reveals anything that disclosure would. This means that the incentive of a patent amounts to little in these fields, but the negative effects of the patent are not mitigated at all. Thus patents here act to harm inventive activity more than they do to spur it on. Combined with the negative effects on the public, software and business method patents wind up producing more harm than good.

Someday, perhaps, the natural incentives in these two fields will diminish and there will be more of a role for an artificial incentive from patents. By all means we should watch for that so that we can revisit the issue when th time is ripe. But for now, software and business method patents harm more than they help. That's why we need to be rid of them.

Comment Re:As a sortware patent holder... (Score 1) 147

You can legally obtain books, music, DVDs at the public library for free.

Well, for now. There are plenty of copyright holders who are opposed to public libraries, stores that sell used copies of works, etc.

And be glad the duration is 70+life years instead of hundreds of years. I mean imagine if you bought land or a house and you have rights to it only for 70+life years. After that, your children/descendants would have to vacate the place and it would be public property, perhaps a park. Does that seem okay to you?

The duration should be whatever, in conjunction with the other aspects of copyright (e.g. the breadth of the rights) produces the greatest overall public benefit. Due to the peculiarities of the markets for copyrighted works (they typically make the vast majority of all the copyright-related money they ever will make very shortly after being published in a given medium), long terms don't provide much of an incentive for authors, and thus ought not to be granted. A grand total of 20-25 years would be 99.44% as good for most authors as a term of a million years would be. Since a copyright is a grant of something public (a right to assert exclusivity against the public) to a private author, there's nothing wrong with the public setting the terms to suit itself. If the author doesn't like it, he's free to get a job at McDonald's.

And also life estates are far from uncommon in the world of real property.

Comment Re:Totally yes... (Score 1) 258

"in that what is patentable is not copyrightable"

Wrong. Software patents, ring a bell?

No, the previous poster was right: patents and copyrights don't overlap. That doesn't mean that a single thing might not posses some qualities which are copyrightable and some other qualities which are patentable, however.

For example, in the case of software, a patent can protect the functional aspects of the program (so long as they're novel, non obvious, useful, etc.) while a copyright protects literal copying of the particular program as it has been written. If one wrote a totally different program from scratch which reimplemented the same functionality, it might infringe on the patent, but not the copyright. If one literally copied the nonpatented portions of the software (the parts that aren't novel, nonobvious, useful, etc.), that might infringe on the copyright, but not the patent.

Comment Re:Just like printing a document using GPL fonts (Score 1) 258

That's less clear. But before, you said you printed the document. The GPLed font file is a program that outputs a public domain typeface. All that's present in the hard copy is the public domain typeface. Since no action occurred for which the GPL would be triggered (using the font to output the typeface doesn't copy the font), why would the GPL apply to the hard copy? On what would it hang its hat?

Comment Re:Like source code (Score 1) 258

An object made from a CAD drawing (or 3D printer instructions, which are, by long precedent, legally exactly the same thing) are not "sculptural works". They are parts made from instructions.

If its a tangible, three dimensional object, in which the allegedly copyrightable aspects of it are embodied in the shape of its overall physical form, it's got to be either a sculptural or architectural work. Since most people aren't printing houses or other buildings yet, it's not likely to be the latter. This means that the printed output must be a sculptural work.

Making a copy of the plans may be prohibited, but there's no grounds in copyright law alone to prohibit their use, so long as the output is not copyrightable, due to, for example, the utility doctrine as applied to sculptural works.

Comment Re:Brain dead analysis (Score 1) 258

Creating a work which is identical to another copyrighted work is only infringing if you copied the latter to get the former. If it's just a coincidence, or due to outside constraints such as efficiency, it's not infringing. Of course the more complex the work is, the harder it'll be in practice to convince a court that it wasn't copying, but careful record keeping can help. Is the IBM bios identical in any part to the compatible BIOSes first written by Columbia, Eagle, and Compaq? I don't know, but if so, their careful methodology to prove independent creation protected them.

Comment Re:Just like printing a document using GPL fonts (Score 2) 258

In the US, the answer is no. Typefaces are not copyrightable. A computer program that can be used to output a typeface can be copyrightable. So something like a PostScript font file could be protected, but the letter shapes it outputs cannot be, and if you traced the output to make a new font file, you'd be in the clear. The name may be trademarked, however, so be prepared to change it. And specific typefaces may be eligible for design patents, which can be infringed on no matter how copied, so watch out for that. Here's the case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Systems,_Inc._v._Southern_Software,_Inc.

Comment Re:Better plots? (Score 1) 1029

Well, some effects are okay.

Unless you changed the setting to the current day (Gatsby as drug dealer?) you can't use real footage of New York unless you only have fairly tight shots outside in front of buildings that are from the 20s and can be 'dressed up' to their appearance from that time. (More neon, fewer translucent plastic panel signs, etc.). Some effects like matte paintings can be used for establishing shots and replacement backgrounds, or even entire shots minus the actors. Here's an example: http://youtu.be/mCXE9cNzcgI

I agree that too much of this would cause the budget to balloon, and wouldn't add anything of quality to the movie, but used judiciously, I think effects can be worthwhile and not break the bank.

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