[linux-audio-dev] Gigasampler vs Halion PR war

Paul Davis paul at linuxaudiosystems.com
Mon Nov 11 11:37:00 UTC 2002

>Send the source code to me and I will release it.  Why? Because I believe
>what I said in the above paragraph is true.  It is immoral to have
>software patents, not violate them.  Especially ones as absurdly simple as
>this.  How could they proove that you did not come up with the idea
>yourself?  Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

it doesn't matter at all that you came up with the idea
yourself. patents are not there to protect against theft of trade
secrets - thats a different section of law. the model of patent law is
that society is trying to provide an incentive to a person who comes
up with an idea that requires investment of time/money to make it
useful. the incentive is designed to encourage them to make that
investment, and it takes the form of the government providing some
assurance that any potential revenue they might make from the
idea/invention will come to them and not go to competitors. its not a
guarantee, since there might be other ways of doing the same thing
that competitors could use to undercut them, but its still better than

if you independently invent the same thing, that's no defense. the
patent says "we've identified XXX as the inventor, and s/he is now
entitled to X years of income deriving from the usefulness of the
invention". that fact that you've invented it too is simply

the way to stop this nonsense is to make the patent examiners do a
better job, which starts with understanding what "non-obvious" means
when it comes to software. its not impossible that other people might
independently reinvent ideas covered by "good" patents, but its much,
much less likely. any software patent that represents the application
of an algorithm/data structure/UI already used in one domain to
another is a very, very bad patent IMHO.

>Well I guess I'm not anti-authoritarian and Australian for nothing.  What
>ever happened to standing up for your freedom and rights.  Nothing, or
>nobody should stop you or seek to punish you for releasing an open source
>software based sampler not for profit.  That is surely a kind act of
>generosity, not a law breaking action.

viewed from the perspective of society as a whole, and with a focus on
the idea/invention in question, there's no doubt about that. but there
are at least 2 other positions:

    * that of the inventor. you've just denied him/her the revenue
        they might have made on the invention. is this theft?
    * society as a whole viewing the invention process as a whole.
        you're removing the incentive that patents provide to
	go through the development process. does society want that?

of course, i happen to agree that software patents in general are a
monstrous mistake. but its not anywhere near as simple as i think you
are claiming.

>On the other hand.  Why not release the source code anonymously and claim
>that you have nothing to do with it if you fear the consequences that
>much.  How can you feel guilty about lieing about that, when they should
>feel more guilty for patenting something so simple?

i don't patent software, and i don't lie. i'm not willing to choose to
have to do either.


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