Aug 15 22:34:38 GMT 2003
Open source confronts IP issues
expresses the opinion that Linux will be challenged by software
patents held by small firms. The problem with that is much
different than the supposedly copied code of the SCO lawsuit,
because you can't always just rewrite code that violates a patent.
Quotes like ""I can guarantee that if Linux contains code that's
offensive to SCO, the open source community could replace it within
weeks" aren't necessarily true when the code is covered by a
If this really is a threat to Linux and Open Source in general,
I have to wonder if the whole thing will go underground. My
grandparents probably flouted Prohibition as so many others did,
and while Linux might not be quite so popular as beer and wine, it
might already be too popular to suppress. If Linux became illegal,
would there be pirate web sites serving patches? Would there be
servers hidden away in closets, masquerading as legal OSes?
The thought of this raises larger issues of intellectual
property, commons, and the ridiculous extent of patents and
copyrights today. All of that is very well discussed in Lawrence
Lessig's The Future of
Ideas, which is important reading no matter what happens
But there's a larger issue of the dangers of laws that a good
part of the general populace will ignore. We have too much of that
already: prostitution, pornography, gambling, drugs. One of the
major reasons we haven't made cigarettes sales illegal is the very
real fear of the enormous black market that would immediately
arise. We can't afford that much open criminality.
It may be too early to worry about Linux yet, but you can bet
that companies like Microsoft will be looking hard at trying to
lock it up with patents. If they succeed, I suspect that there will
be black market Linux. Look at how many illegal copies of Windows
and Microsoft Office are installed at small to medium businesses.
Management often turns a blind eye to that; using suddenly illegal
Linux would have to be a much easier rationalization.
Not pleasant thoughts, I know.
If this page was useful to you, please help others find it:
More Articles by Tony Lawrence
- Find me on Google+
Have you tried Searching this site?
Unix/Linux/Mac OS X support by phone, email or on-site:
This is a Unix/Linux resource website. It contains technical articles about Unix, Linux and general computing related subjects, opinion, news, help files, how-to's, tutorials and more. We appreciate comments and article submissions.
Publishing your articles here
Jump to Comments
Many of the products and books I review are things I purchased for my own use. Some were given to me specifically for the purpose of reviewing them. I resell or can earn commissions from the sale of some of these items. Links within these pages may be affiliate links that pay me for referring you to them. That's mostly insignificant amounts of money; whenever it is not I have made my relationship plain. I also may own stock in companies mentioned here. If you have any question, please do feel free to contact me.
Specific links that take you to pages that allow you to purchase the item I reviewed are very likely to pay me a commission. Many of the books I review were given to me by the publishers specifically for the purpose of writing a review. These gifts and referral fees do not affect my opinions; I often give bad reviews anyway.
We use Google third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.