Yesterday, I attended :) the Extramural Lecture by Richard Stallman [RMS] - GNU Founder, at HSB, IIT-Madras who explained about software patents and its causes. RMS came to chennai for startup of FSF- chennai. I am highly impressed by the lecture of Richard Stallman, who launched the development of the GNU operating system in 1984.
Richard Stallman will explained about software patents obstruct software development. Software patents are patents that cover software ideas. They restrict the development of software, so that every design decision brings a risk of getting sued. Patents in other fields restrict factories, but software patents restrict every computer user.
Economic research shows that they even retard progress.
He explained about the threats posed by software patents. How individual Developers /Companies /and the people of India will be affected if patents come to existence in India. About the difference between Copyright Law, Patents and Trademark laws. He explained that these Laws were formulated to aid the people, but instead these things [patents] have started troubling people[individual developers, Medium scale companies]. In 1984 a "program compress" was written but it died unfortunately before release. The reason was the implementation of lzw algorithm in the program [software] which was patented. Now "gz" is becoming the standard and we all have to adopt it for compression. This "gz" implements another powerful algorithm that is free from patents and has more advantages [performance based] when compared to lzw algorithm. GIF format has become the defacto standard for images. But, it has an implementation of lzw algorithm in it. Surely we will be sued one day for implementing lzw algorithm [he told so]. And also he advised to adopt "png" format in applications because it doesn’t have lzw implementation in it.
A magazine in US has described patent as a "LOTTERY".If a person has a patent then he can start pointing out people and demand for the implementation of his patents in their application. A Linux user has calculated that Linux has some 280 patent infringements. Stallman told that Linux is just the kernel and that it is 0.5% of the whole GNU system. He told that GNU softwares as a whole would roughly have some 40,000 patent infringements [assumption].
He instructed people to spread this talk to all developers/companies and fight against patent. He advised the people in the Hall to take the needed
steps to fight patents being authorized in India.