With the recent discussions regarding the patent issue, when I saw a
campaining councilor today, I just had to ask his stand on Software Patents.
His response was not far from what I expected. He felt that software patents
were important to ensure people paid for software written rather than
down-loading pirated copies and taking money from the software creators.
I explained that this was the purpose of Copyright laws and not for Patent
issues. As I didn't fully understand the LWZ issue, I just briefly explained
how the copyright on LWZ compression was used to restrict many legitimate
businesses, and suggested he check the groklaw web site for clear
explainations of the differences between copyright and patent.
When he asked why I thought this was important, I explained about the recent
U-Turn in the EU regarding software patents and explained that quite a few
small and medium sized software companies in Ireland were very concerned
about this. At this point he asked about the web site again and wrote it
down. I think that caught his attention (-;
It was only later that I thought about possible simpler examples better suited
for non-software types.
Motown used copyright to protect the song 'He's So Fine'. Had a patent been
issued, this would have restricted a wide range of songs and prevented a
large number of entertainers from making a living. However, when George
Harison used the same chords, rhythms and tempos for 'My Sweet Lord', he was
found to be in violation of the copyright and paided proper royalties.
If J. K. Rowling had been given a patent on stories about school children
learning magic and witchcraft, the "Artimus Fowler' books could never have
been written. Since she was only given a copyright on the 'Harry Potter'
stories, 'Artimus Fowler' and other books are allowed. However, when an
author from an eastern europian country wrote a story that followed the harry
potter plot with only minor name changes, copyright was used properly to
protect Rowling's works.
I think the main problems is that most politicians don't properly understand
the differences between patents and copyrights, the one I talked to didn't.
But after explaining it, and pointing out how Irish software industry was
under threat and very concerned about patents, he seemed very interested in
finding out more.
I thought I couldn't help wit this effort, but today's experience has
convinced me to have plenty of info available and ask every canvasing
polititian about software patents now!
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