[PD] Use Linux and you will be sued

Marc Lavallée marc at hacklava.net
Mon Nov 22 01:43:22 CET 2004

slimboyfatboyslim a écrit :
> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/18/ballmer_linux_lawsuits/

I know it's a bit off-topic, but here's a little follow-up.
Excerpts from http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1730114,00.asp
(as seen on /.)
"Open source faces no more, if not less, legal risk than proprietary 
software. The market needs to understand that the study Microsoft is 
citing actually proves the opposite of what they claim it does."

"There is no reason to believe that GNU/Linux has any greater risk of 
infringing patents than Windows, Unix-based or any other functionally 
similar operating system. Why? Because patents are infringed by specific 
structures that accomplish specific functionality"

"Patents don't care how the infringing article is distributed, be it 
under an open-source license, a proprietary license or not at all. 
Therefore, if a patent infringes on Linux, it probably also infringes on 
Unix, Windows, etc."

"Consider this—not a single open-source software program has ever been 
sued for patent infringement, much less been found to infringe. On the 
contrary, proprietary software, like Windows, is sued and found guilty 
of patent infringement quite frequently."

What follows had been discussed, but I'm just taking this opportunity to 
express it one more time. :-)

Its important to realise that PD is no more at risk than any other 
proprietary software; it would be a shame to consider PD as a bad choice 
for education, art or even commercial applications, because of M$ FUD.

It's a better choice to invest our collective expertise in PD than in 
any other proprietary alternative, even if PD would be infringing 
thousands of ridiculously obvious patents. The development model of free 
software is transparent, so it is already a good protection. Since 
nobody would make money suing a bunch of individual developpers, we're 
pretty safe. Our best protection in the long run is still to boycott 
companies who falsely claim that we could be acting illegally. As 
programmers and users of free software, those companies don't deserve 
the money we need to sustain the development model of free software.

Artists not involved in computer programming often believe that free 
software is only for programmers, and that proprietary software is for 
"non-technical" users like them; they should be aware that in lots of 
situations, if not most of them, they're better served by colleagues 
with programming skills than by any power user of proprietary software; 
most projects made with proprietary software tend to look and feel the 
same because they can't be easily customised to better fit each project. 
There's also a trend in all kind of artistic institutions that calls for 
collaboration with the "industry". Such costly collaborations are likely 
to profit the industry and a few artistic elites, not the free software 
programming and artistic communities.

There are technical, esthetic, ethical and political reasons to use and 
program free software for art purposes, despite all potential patent 
infringement risks. If the laws are bad, we can always change them; but 
unlike software, it takes much more time, so we better make the right 
ideological choices right now by using the right technical tools.


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