Tuesday, June 21, 2005

If there were bookware patents…

Something really important and worrisome is happening in the EU regarding software patents, but I won’t bother you with that story. The ministers who want software patents seem to believe that they are needed to protect copyrights, which is just totally misguided. Richard Stallman wrote an article in the Manchester Guardian in which he explains how patents would affect books, if there were book-writing patents similar to software patents. His article is almost entirely non-technical, and really funny unless you’re a software developer, in which case the whole business is just too painful for words. I recommend that you enjoy his column here. A quote:
Here's one example of a hypothetical literary patent:

Claim 1: a communication process that represents, in the mind of a reader, the concept of a character who has been in jail for a long time and becomes bitter towards society and humankind.

Personally, I just want the patent for the concept of telling a story in the first person. Oh, I also want the patent for telling a story as a series of letters. And the patent for telling a story in the form of a diary. And the patent for using a whale as a symbol. And the patent for using an ellipsis to suggest there’s some sex happening … No wait, what I REALLY want is the patent for the concept of keeping other people from making unauthorized copies of a book by placing a copyright notice in it. Oh, the royalties ...

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