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Author Topic: Why computer programs should not be patentable -- in easy-to-understand terms  (Read 4480 times)

zridling

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A.J. Venter cleverly lays out the case on Why computer programs should not be patentable -- in easy-to-understand terms.

code101010101.jpg

Programming a computer is, essentially, just discovering a number that suits the programmers wishes.

Make the vairable X equal to 0;
Start a loop here:
Write the binary representation of X into a new file.
increase X by 1
continue the above loop until the program is interrupted by deliberately killing it (an infinite loop);

With this simple program – I can create an exact copy of every single program ever written and – this is important – every single program that CAN ever be written.


*Text files, executable, source code, pdf’s all files in fact are saved as just one gigantic number on a computer. The computer just follows a set of rules to make sense of them. The exact rules differ between architectures – on an 8-bit computer if you tell it that the file is “text” it will read every 8 digits, take that as a number by itself and find a corresponding letter from a chart (known as the ascii set), on 32-bit and higher computers it reads more – and can refer to longer and more complete charts like unicode – but ultimately – what gets saved on the disk is still just one big number. Here-in lies the secret to what lets the “universal Turing machine” actually work – software is data.

f0dder

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So... you wouldn't mind me posting nudie pics of you on Teh IntarwebsTM? After all, a JPEG is "just one gigantic number".
- carpe noctem

wraith808

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And you wouldn't mind me posting the algorithm to generate legitimate credit card numbers?  After all, it's just "one gigantic number".

mouser

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i think there are lots of good reasons software shouldn't be patentable, but as the other posters are pointing out, the fact that a computer program can be represented as a number is not one of them :)

zridling

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So... you wouldn't mind me posting nudie pics of you on Teh IntarwebsTM? After all, a JPEG is "just one gigantic number".

Not at all. Except this would be a civil crime, would it not?

And you wouldn't mind me posting the algorithm to generate legitimate credit card numbers?  After all, it's just "one gigantic number".

Wow, you got that? Again, I suppose if you did, you'd be sentenced to a long prison term.
________________________
Fill me in: How do the examples you cite validate software patents?
- Should (educational) math programs be patented?
- Should public voting software be patented?
- Should spreadsheet programs used by the government be patented?

If numbers are used to certify, support evidence (such as DNA), verify, bill, or compensate, shouldn't their code be open to inspection?

wraith808

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We're not saying that software patents are good as is, we're refuting that his argument justifies why they shouldn't exist. There is a difference between the assertions. (And no, having the algorithm isn't grounds for jail time, depending on how you arrived at it)
« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 10:38:23 PM by wraith808 »

JavaJones

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Remember the difference between patents and *copyright*...

- Oshyan

f0dder

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I believe in patents - including software patents - just not in their current state.
- carpe noctem

rxantos

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I do believe in patents, but for a limited time. 5 to 10 years at most.

Not for 30, 50, 85, 100, etc that are now.

Eóin

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Software patents can work, but at the moment they're a farce. That number analogy doesn't really hold water though.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Why computer programs should not be patentable -- in easy-to-understand terms
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2010, 04:35:32 PM »
It's a bit like saying you shouldn't patent anything because it is exactly the same as lots of other things.

Actually I agree that the patents system we have now is broken (and so is copyright). Trouble is there are too many vested interests to ever get it fixed.

Example - Beethoven's music as first published is still copyright because the publishers can renew the copyright ad nauseam. Technically the music isn't copyright but the printed edition is - not sure how that works, presumably it is the page layout and the mistakes that crept in that sustain the copyright claim.

The recent example of Facebook trying to claim book was a trademark belonging to them shows the ludicrous nature of it all.

I'm surprised that Apple hasn't patented the letter i yet - maybe someone should and then sue Apple for gazzillions ;) (oops that should be gazzllons - don't want to nfrnge).
« Last Edit: September 26, 2010, 04:37:51 PM by Carol Haynes »

nudone

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Re: Why computer programs should not be patentable -- in easy-to-understand terms
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2010, 01:37:06 PM »
(i might be making this all up but, i thought Apple had already had a go at someone for daring to use the "i" at the start of their name. or am i just thinking of the EasyJet case?)

wraith808

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Re: Why computer programs should not be patentable -- in easy-to-understand terms
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2010, 01:44:55 PM »
(i might be making this all up but, i thought Apple had already had a go at someone for daring to use the "i" at the start of their name. or am i just thinking of the EasyJet case?)

Nope... not the 'i'... that would be silly... right?  But the Pod on the other hand... ::)

http://www.tgdaily.c...rd-pod-all-to-itself