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Comment Re:Preserve it? Hell, Let's Define It! (Score 2, Insightful) 160

Copyright is a necessary evil. It should be treated as such.

I am always curious about comments such as this. If Copyright is "evil," what makes it necessary? And if it is really necessary, is it really evil? To argue that something is a "necessary evil," to me, belies the underlying principles that makes something necessary in the first place, and is simply a semantical device to remain indignant to an idea, but still reap its benefits.

Comment Re:Preserve it? Hell, Let's Define It! (Score 1) 160

You meant "for the party which has the most money". Most of us don't have (or wouldn't bother to spend) the mega-dollars (OK, maybe I exaggerate: kilo-dollars) it takes to go unaided to Federal court, even if it was a shoe-in that we would win.

While it is certainly true that going to trial in federal court is expensive, it is similarly expensive to have an effect in Congress. It is a cynical, but none the less accurate, reality that interest groups are major players in the legislative process, and those with the most money are typically the best able to hold the ear of any given legislator, let alone the many that are needed to pass a bill. I'm saying, given the choice between a multitude of legislators, each of whom is answering to their constitutents, mingling with interest groups, and plotting their next election campaign, or a federal court judge, who for all intents and purposes has a life tenure and is mostly immunized from the political system, I'll take the latter when making my arguments.

Comment Re:Why only truckers? (Score 2, Insightful) 171

Since the Transportation Department (who proposed the ban) has to rely on Congressional constitutional powers, the proposed ban will only be applicable to interstate drivers, pursuant to Congress' interstate commerce regulatory power. Although for as laxly as the Supreme Court is willing to interpret commerce to be, it's not an inconceivable stretch to include texting.

Comment Re:This requires federal government intervention? (Score 2, Interesting) 171

Of course, truckers can still look up contacts, dial their phones, look up addresses and map them, download apps, and play games on their smartphones while driving. They just can't text.

You raise an interesting point. Would a court be persuaded if the driver introduced their statement from their wireless carrier showing they didn't send or receive texts around the time of the citation? Or if the driver simply argues they weren't texting, can the state then pull their statement? It probably boils down to a question of state evidentiary rules and prosecuting economy, but when you can't be certain of a person's activities by simple observation, these questions inevitably arise.

Comment Re:Why Not? (Score 1) 194

Unfortunately your comment is all too typical of the superficial thinking of patent proponents who tend to avoid thinking about what an invention or an idea is and instead get lost in the patent legal system tarpit.

I am curious what you believe an invention or an idea is, how you would define it. Could you explain further?

Comment Re:Why Not? (Score 1) 194

Personally, I am thoroughly sick of people who automatically assume that patents, a massive government interference in citizens minding their own business, will encourage innovation in every area of human endeavour when it's quite clear they don't. If they're going to argue for this government interference then they should at least have some scientific evidence that it is a net positive in any particular area. Not the usual childish handwaving about how an inventor won't invent without patents (history shows this is nonsense) and that patents have no harmful effect on society and the free exchange of ideas (also nonsense).

Nobody suggests that all inventors will stop inventing without a patent system. The idea of a garage inventor is reasonably argued as not significantly motivated by the hope of obtaining a patent. I argue against this position, for I know if I were such an inventor and saw an invention I was the first to invent in Walmart without any compensation to me, I would feel wronged. However, thinking about areas of science and technology where the cost of entry is high, the need for patent protection becomes clearer. Without sufficient protection, products that require substantial R&D expenditures are less likely to be developed because the developed product can then be produced by competitors. This is most evident in the field of pharmaceuticals, with the constant push-and-shove between developers and generics.

A patent stops billions of people from using an idea that's probably going to be independently re-invented many times so that one (1) person can have additional incentive to invent something. Explain to me why this is a net positive?

I'll gladly respond. First, your presumption that an idea that is going to be independently re-invented is already addressed in the patent code, specifically 35 U.S.C. 103, not allowing patents that are obvious. Given the expansive interpretation given to this section by the Supreme Court in KSR v. Teleflex, examiners are given the ammunition to reject claims for inventions that are likely to be independently re-invented, as these inventions are likely obvious. This is so because inventions that are likely to be independently re-invented are just that because there is a market demand for an invention, there is an associated motivation for an inventor to satisfy that demand. Hence, obvious.

Particularly for software industry where the entry cost is so low?

Fair enough. However, the cost of entry is not considered in the patenting process. A fair remedy could be to have different standards of non-obviousness for some areas where entry costs (can) be low, i.e. software and mechanical applications, and another standard for areas where entry costs are high, i.e. pharmaceuticals. However, I would argue that this is unnecessary. If an examiner is truly an expert in the field, as they are presumed to be, they will be able to recognize those pieces of software which are obvious and those which are not, keeping in mind the inherent standards of obviousness for their area/art unit. I guess you call this hand-waving; I call this understanding the patent prosecution process.

Every new patent is a new law; another opportunity for a lawyer to make money at the expense of the wider community.

If you feel that way, I encourage you to write your congressional representatives for a repeal of the patent system. Don't be too surprised if your view doesn't gather too much support.


NZ Draft Bill Rules Out Software Patents 194

Korgan writes "In what must be a first in the face of ACTA and US trade negotiations pressure, a Parliamentary select committee has released a draft bill that explicitly declares that software will no longer be patentable in New Zealand. FTA: 'Open source software champions have been influential in excluding software from the scope of patents in the new Patents Bill. Clause 15 of the draft Bill, as reported back from the Commerce Select Committee, lists a number of classes of invention which should not be patentable and includes the sub-clause "a computer program is not a patentable invention."'"

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