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March 8, 2008 / gus3

Why Not Software Patents?

Why should patent protections not be available for computer software?

At its core (pun intended), computer memory is just a bunch of transistor-switches. Imagine needing permission from a patent holder, just to turn on all the lights in the building, or to turn lights on and off to make the letters “L O V E” on a skyscraper. Really, it’s accomplished with just switches. There may be a patent on the switches themselves, but you are allowed to configure them for any effect you desire.

So it should be with software. The hardware probably has a thousand patents covering its various inventions, but what code and data you load into it (setting the transistor-switches) should be up to you, as well as any resulting effects. If those “resulting effects” includes playing a DVD, then so be it, but the term can be applied to just about any computer program.

(Again, thanks to “the Batman” for spurring this line of thought.)

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