GNU A Possible Ally?

Paul Prescod
Wed, 07 May 1997 10:16:40 -0400

Dwight Hughes wrote:
> Fare makes a number of arguments for the GPL/LGPL - many
> of which I find debatable, but two factors finally
> convinced me in their favor: 1) the protection against
> some bastard getting a patent on some piece of previously
> free software (the Patent Office being *totally* clueless
> concerning software) and removing it from general use
> and benefit to all; 

Patent and copyright are totally separate issues. Patents are for ideas.
Copyright is for source code (in this context). If you can prove that
you invented a certain idea then someone else cannot patent it.
Conversely, if you cannot prove that you invented it you are screwed, no
matter WHAT terms you licensed it under. Someone else can claim they
invented it and patent it and the whole thing is up to the patent
office. I don't see how GPL helps. If you want to stop an idea from
being patented by someone else, patent it yourself, or at least promote
it loudly on Usenet so that there is a record of its use and origin.

But even if we restrict it to copyright I don't see your point. If
software is on the Internet, clearly labelled either "GPL" or "In the
Public Domain" how can some third party claim ownership? Only by
disclaiming the ownership of the person who placed it under GPL or in
the public domain. So either way it is your evidence against his or
hers. Once again I don't see the GPL as being particularly relevant.

That doesn't mean I am against the GPL, just against it being chosen
for the wrong reasons.

 Paul Prescod