Re: [SLUG] Difference in BSD and Linux

From: Andrew M Hoerter (
Date: Mon Sep 15 2003 - 20:47:32 EDT

On Mon, 15 Sep 2003 wrote:

> So how is this even remotely on topic? Imagine that a formula,
> "e^(pi i) = -1" say, and then imagine that you're no longer looking at a
> formula (i.e., statement of mathematics) but instead a programming
> algorithm. Imagine trying to tell someone that you patented that
> sequence. But how about something simpler: a^2 + b^2 = c^2. Or simpler
> yet: 1 + 2 = 3. You'd probably be laughed out of the building. But you
> can do this for software, because if you squint a little and moved your
> eyes quickly, you can say that a program is really the same thing as an
> equation is to the formula is to the algorithm.

Even aside from the philosophical objections, software patents are silly
because of the incredibly low barrier cost involved in software
development. There's nothing about Amazon's "one click" mechanism that
couldn't have been written by a 16-year old in his basement in a matter of
days or weeks, on hardware that he fished out of the dumpster. Amazon's
*implementation* might be better or more clever in some way, but that's
beside the point.

Compare to large pharmaceutical companies, which spend millions upon
millions of dollars doing basic research to develop new drugs. Setting up
laboratories and hiring scientific expertise doesn't come cheap, and it's
not worth the investment if a competitor instantly copies the resulting
chemical forumula. Hence, patents provide the "carrot" for this work to
be done at all.

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