Saturday, September 16, 2006

The patent problem revisited.

I have been asking doubts over a forum about the system of software patents. I have clearly expressed the idea that it restricts freedom to program something that ideologically trivial. Hence all free software programmers are forced to take evasive measures that harm the cult of free software.

But there seems to be no end to this misery. Patents will exist. Be that good or bad! But what is it that really matters? There is no real drive - a coalitive effort - which would actually bring the masses to light. Everyone is busy in their own ferry. (I mean would a business person have insight in what I speak?). But the problem seems to be aggravated from a another perspective too. And from what I learn it regards the philosophy of free software. The argument from that angle becomes significant when you start thinking of standards to software or a system.

When you create software and you GPL it, you are literally inviting other people to view its source and to make modifications on it. You also hope that all subsequent modifications will keep standards that you had originally thought of. But in practice this may not happen. It can be that people can even abuse your idea, or use it for some other purpose, or change the whole software. This happens because the GPL gives you this freedom. Now you may ask how will your software survive? How will the idea you've put in benefit others?

I value this freedom. I think the gpl is good in spite of this small handicap. Because I believe that software will become accepted among the masses this way. But why do I believe it?

Well, the essence of this freedom dictates the fact that anything can happen to your software as it proliferates among the masses. (The worst case being someone making it proprietary). But then if you do want standards maintained, then I guess that you should somehow make people aware of the fact about what they should be; and more importantly even you should be convincing enough while you educate people that anything can happen. Because at some point of time even they might develop on your idea, and they might see the big problem (that is if they have not understood about the value of this freedom).