View Full Version : Free Software vs. Property Rights

January 4th, 2008, 01:52 AM
The purpose of this thread is to decide the line between what software should be able to be copyrighted and what should not. This is your personal opinion; don't smash down what other people believe, but please correct them nicely if they are incorrect with your own reasoning. I will start out with my points:

1. Anything considered 'art' should be copyrightable.

2. I consider games to be art because they require storytelling and conveying of ideas in audio and visual formats. They also need to put everything together to immerse the audience into believing the experience.

3. I consider aesthetics and appearance to be art because, well, it's just visualization, similar to #2.

4. The software I do not consider to be art, and therefore uncopyrightable, would include 'office software' (i.e. text editing, word processing, spreadsheets, etc.) file formats, or anything else that generally can be reproduced almost exactly (minus visual appearance), or greatly limits overall freedom of the user.

5. Making many types of software uncopyrightable, and therefore unprofitable, would put thousands of programmers and designers out of a job, and make unemployment in that area skyrocket. Therefore, if any changes are to be made, they should be done gradually.

Now, I am by no means an expert on this subject, so please don't be too hard on me. :) Actually, I started this thread to learn more about the subject, and form a more solid opinion. So please, feel free to debate and discuss this subject, and hopefully we will all learn something. :popcorn:

January 4th, 2008, 02:20 AM
I think copyright is fine, its the patent that is the stinger.

January 4th, 2008, 03:05 AM
This will probably be deleted or moved to the Backyard, but I'll get my $0.02 in there before then.

I think it should be up to the creator as to what they want their software\art\whatever licensed under. We have full copyrights, GPL, Creative Commons, Public Domain, and so on, but it should be the creator who decides what rights should be given, not the public.

Personally, any code I write will be GPL or LGPL, and any art, audio, or literature I create will be Creative Commons CC-BY-SA or CC-BY-SA-NC. That's just me, though.

January 4th, 2008, 03:14 AM
Property Rights in general are mistaken. Compensation rights are perhaps needed.

January 4th, 2008, 04:21 AM
The title of this thread is misleading. Free software is not at all threatened by property rights via copyright. Your thinking of patents.

The GPL is a copyright license. Without copyright law, the GPL (and therefore the vast majority of free-libre software) would not be enforceable.

Copyright does not give someone ownership of an idea, just ownership of the implementation of the idea. Copyright does not prevent someone else from using your idea. They just can't copy your work word for word unless you chose to give them that right. That's what the GPL does - it defines software freedom and grants you rights and sets conditions under which the freedom of the software to be preserved.

On the other hand, patenting of software ideas is bad. Patents prevent someone else from having/using the same ideas as you. The goal of patents is to level the playing field so that someone doesn't take an idea that your worked on and profit from your work without giving back to you. Unfortunately, patents are too broad and evolve to slowly to be useful to software.

Granting someone a software patent is not incentive for a person to enter the software business, rather a deterrent. Software developers a liable to get sued for publishing code that is covered by someone else's patent, even of the owner of the patent has no understanding of what the code in question actually does.

January 4th, 2008, 06:19 AM
Being able to pantent a word processor is like some one owning the pantent to 2+2=4 "Hey I wonder if that one is still up for grabs?" I better hury up and get to the pantent office before Bill beats me to it!!!