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Shining a light on patents

We're all pinko now

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Even if you do stand up, you'll probably get sat on. But at least the free (love) and open source movement (FLOSS) has proved the exception to this rule, for the moment.

Don’t forget to floss

The European Parliament's trashing of the software patents directive in the summer gave the flossers a bathroom break that was sorely needed after they had spent more than three years spitting bile at bureaucrats.

The EC competition police, already the darlings of IT industry's militant left for their assiduous harassment of Microsoft, raised spirits even higher with their efforts to prevent patent ambushing at the European Telecommunications Standardisation Institute (ETSI) - a practice whereby standards bodies help establish standards for which they secretly have the patent goose that lays the golden eggs.

Even the US Supreme Court's emperor's clothes decree (that P2P file sharing services such as Grokster could be sued for copyright infringement if they promoted their software for the purpose) was merely a lesson in the bleedin' obvious.

The flossers had some setbacks, but all in all it became easier in 2005 to imagine a world in which IP thumbscrews could be loosened as well as tightened.

Dream sequence: So, okay-okay-okay.... listen up guys... wouldn't it be really nice if we could all, like, share all our knowledge and hard work freely and openly? And we still all get paid? Equal salaries? Sort of thing?

A younger Gould might have thought such a utopia desirable, if it didn't have to be populated by Stepford husbands and wives.

But is it possible? Not if genome patenters get their hands on the gene for human greed before the public access genomers do.

It is about as likely as world peace. The rapacious bastards who have an interest in expanding IP laws are like an indestructible, leeching weed that snatches a hold in any crack that might appear in the pavements decent people lay a criss-cross our good society.

Yes, the bile is infectious but, let's face it, IP is a complex issue in which the laws change almost as rapidly as the society they are supposed to reflect and advocates on both sides can be equally and unreasonably disingenuous. It's much easier to sensationalise the issue than discuss it soberly.

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