Not just free software under threat

Richard Stallman writes


Dear Editor,

In my speech about the danger of software idea patents, I explained how these patents obstruct all software developers, restrict all computer users, retard software progress, and tie up e-commerce in unnecessary bureaucracy.

Your article describes a very different speech from the one I gave, one that emphasizes primarily how patents would hurt free software. They would indeed, but in persuading a public that mostly doesn't advocate free software, I cannot pin much hope on that argument. I therefore mentioned free software only briefly in the speech.

During that brief mention I refuted a claim that politicians that favor patents say about software idea patents and free software: "They can't be that damaging for free software, since there is still plenty of free software in the US." I explained the fallacy by applying the same argument to AIDS in Africa--"AIDS can't be that damaging for humans, since there are still plenty of people in Africa". That example, clearly wrong, makes the flaw visible. Whether there is any similarity between AIDS and patents is irrelevant to this exercise in logic, and I never said there was one.

Preventing software idea patents in Europe is of tremendous importance to anyone that hopes to develop or use software there. I hope to call the public's attention to how these patents would affect their work.

You can serve your readers best by doing likewise.


Richard Stallman President, Free Software Foundation

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