TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Software Should Not Be Copyrighted -- Lawsuit

Re: Software Should Not Be Copyrighted -- Lawsuit
16 Dec 2004 10:22:16 -0800

Lisa Minter wrote:

> Aharonian argues in his complaint that software copyright laws
> violate the right to due process enshrined in the U.S. Constitution
> because they do not provide clear boundaries for appropriate
> use. That means industry players and courts do not have a clear idea
> of the rules.

>> "Until you're sued and a judge makes up his mind about what is the
>> idea and expression (at stake), no one knows," Aharonian said in an
>> interview.

In the history of technology, there have been a great many court
battles over patents. For example, I think the fellow who invented FM
had a long running battle with RCA over it.

Having patent is no guarantee at all of no litigation. There are
plenty of arguments over exactly what a patent does and not does not
cover, and whether a subsequent invention is actually something new
and different or just a copy of an existing patent.

A patent and copyright each have their advantages and disadvantages.

I understand copyright law was recently changed to allow holders to
keep their rights much longer. Some people object to that because it
supposedly enriches "big [evil] corporations". It just might (like
Disney and Warner continuing to get royalties over Mickey Mouse and
Bugs Bunny). On the other hand, it also just as much protects small
guys who create something and can continue to get royalties. Further,
it protects certain popular images from being abused by becoming
public domain and I think that's a good thing.

There is always the conflict between our desire to protect creators
and our dislike of anti trust. One solution in the past has been to
mandate monopolists (whether intentional or not) to license their
patents at reasonable cost to competitors. I think, for example,
classic cartoon images should be protected, but also available for
license at a reasonable fee.

(I wanted to buy a video tape of an old newsreel. The company quoted
me $3,000, which I thought was a bit much for something 75 years old.)

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