ESP Wiki is looking for moderators and active contributors!

Freedom of expression

Revision as of 03:50, 10 March 2014 by Ciaran (talk | contribs) (Inducement worries: inducement to infringement)

Software patents can prohibit people from building websites, publishing videos, publicly discussing software development, and helping people to use software.

Access to communication technology

Most modern communication systems are based on software. If only MyCompany can use a certain communication method, then anyone who can't afford the software of MyCompany, or anyone who objects to using the software of MyCompany is excluded from certain types of communication.

This article might provide an example:

See also: Micro-blogging patents

Discussing software development

If something is patented, then you might not be able to publish a sensible discussion about it (See for example Andrew Tridgell's VFAT patch FAQ on LKML, the Linux Kernel Mailing List about avoiding Microsoft's FAT patents).

Sharing source code is an important part of understanding a program. Patents inhibit education by not allowing people to learn about software.

A clear example when Roy van Rijn got a legal threat just for blogging about software he was writing which he hadn't even published yet:

Discussing software use

In i4i v. Microsoft in the 2009 USA, when Microsoft lost, the judge noted that Microsoft was thereby prohibited from providing technical support for an aspect of their .docx format that is patented by i4i inc. "providing support or assistance to anyone that describes how to use any infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML".[1]

Inducement worries

As described in the 2008 amicus brief by the American Civil Liberties Union[1] for the in re Bilski case, because "inducement to infringement" is a crime in the USA, sharing technical information about a possibly-patented idea could lead to an infringement suit.

Source code may be speech

According to SFLC:

First, source code, like the patent disclosures themselves, teaches how the invention works, rather than being the invention. If source code standing alone can infringe the patent, it is difficult to understand how handing out photocopies of the patent itself wouldn’t infringe. Second, in the US, courts may find source code to be speech, as we believe they should find, thus making source code subject to First Amendment protection. [...Furthermore...] liability for patent infringement can be imposed where one enables or encourages another to infringe a patent, but the requirements of knowledge and intent are more strict in secondary liability situations. Because a user must first compile the source code and install the software in order to infringe, a court is less likely to hold the community liable for inducing or contributing to the infringement.[2]

Related pages on ESP Wiki

External links