Internet rights champions call for US patent reform

Jun 19, 2012
The US Patent and Trademark Office, pictured in 2006, in Alexandria, Virgina. Internet rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Tuesday launched a campaign to reform the US patent system, which it argued has been "weaponized" to attack inventors.

Internet rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Tuesday launched a campaign to reform the US patent system, which it argued has been "weaponized" to attack inventors.

"The software patent system is broken," EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels said in a release.

"Patents are supposed to help promote new inventions and ideas, but software patents are chronically misused to limit competition, quash and products, and shake down companies big and small."

San Francisco-based EFF called on , inventors, academics and activists to join forces to fix flawed patent rules.

Seven proposed changes and an invitation for people to endorse the effort and provide feedback were posted online at a Defendinnovation.org website.

Recommendations included trimming the life of a patent from 20 years to five and having Congress examine whether software patents help the economy at all.

The EFF also suggested letting winners in lawsuits recover legal costs from losers as a way of discouraging "patent trolls" from pursuing tenuous claims.

The term is a reference to people or companies that get patents and sit on them with the intent to one day squeeze money out of who actually put the innovations to use.

"The US Patent Office is overwhelmed and underfunded, and issues questionable patents every day -- patents that hurt and consumers alike," said EFF activism director Rainey Reitman.

"It's time for the technology community to work together to create a blueprint for reforming the broken software patent system."

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User comments : 93

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bertibus
5 / 5 (4) Jun 19, 2012
Five years may be fine for a software patent (I think it's too short anyhow), but for a physical product, it's a bad joke. The time taken from patent approval to marketable product is often three to five years, so what would be the point of IP protection? Effectively it'd cease to exist for engineering businesses. To say nothing of the drug industry where the time period between patent approval and navigation of the FDA process is often in the region of four to seven years.
antialias_physorg
3.9 / 5 (7) Jun 19, 2012
The EFF also suggested letting winners in lawsuits recover legal costs from losers as a way of discouraging "patent trolls" from pursuing tenuous claims.

They should pay a LOT more than just the cost of the lawsuit. Have patent trolls pay all the damages due to not being able to sell during a lawsuit. AND prohibit patent trolls and any associated company from selling a competing product for the next ten years. That'll put an end to patent trolling on no time.

but for a physical product, it's a bad joke.

Under ideal conditions. But a good product will be plagiarized way before then in countries that don't care about patent rights. If a knockoff isn't being dumped on the market after 5 years from China or similar then the 20 year protection isn't worth it, anyhow.
drloko
5 / 5 (3) Jun 19, 2012
Patent lifetime is from the time of filing, not the date of grant. The process often takes four to six years. A five year lifetime would mean that many patents would never be valid.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (12) Jun 19, 2012
Who cares? IP is an illegitimate concept that has no place in a free society.

NONE!

".. so what would be the point of IP protection? " - Bert
Vendicar_Decarian
2.1 / 5 (7) Jun 19, 2012
Fantastic... A bonanza for Liberty.

"A five year lifetime would mean that many patents would never be valid." = Dr Loco
packrat
3.5 / 5 (8) Jun 19, 2012
I agree with you A.P. 5 years should be about right. Almost all tech has been advancing fast enough that by 5 years it's pretty much out of date anyway.

Putting a patent on software has always been rather ludicrous. There is almost nothing that one person or company programs that another can't do in a different way and get the same result. Copyright yes, don't copy someone else's screen layout etc... but a patent? No, that just goes too far.

I also think that if you don't produce anything that the patent covers it should be null and void after about 5-7 years max. That would slow down patent trolls big time and at the same time actually make companies that come up with advances either market them or stop wasting peoples time saying no one else could either.

Deathclock
2.5 / 5 (8) Jun 19, 2012
Make it 5 years from the date of the grant and make it non-renewable if you don't make use of it at all in those five years.
packrat
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 19, 2012
Fantastic... A bonanza for Liberty.

"A five year lifetime would mean that many patents would never be valid." = Dr Loco


Then simply don't apply for a patent until you actually have something to sell. Problem solved.

I've been though that routine trying to patent something and got turned down because of something someone else had patented that never actually produced it and what they had wasn't even close to my design or the way it operated. Their patent was so broad it covered just a general idea and not any particular device or implementation of the idea... That patent should have never been issued to begin with.
packrat
3 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2012
Yes, changing it to date from grant makes much more sense anyway.
randith
3.5 / 5 (10) Jun 19, 2012
Vendicar_Decarian said:
IP is an illegitimate concept that has no place in a free society.


I assume by IP you mean (private) Intellectual Property. If so, the above quote is wrong, and here's why:

If people can't own what they create then they can't sell it. If they can't sell it then they can't make a living creating it, so they'll make a living in some other way.

Another way to look at it: people are (obviously) willing to pay for software as of today; however, if people couldn't earn money coding, *some software that people want wouldn't get written*.

That's the key problem: some IP that people want wouldn't ever get created.

BTW: I'm not making this up. This is basic economics; look up the "free rider problem".
randith
1.7 / 5 (3) Jun 19, 2012
Enforcing private intellectual property rights is good, not so with software patents. As packrat said, copyrights may provide enough protection to software innovators. Patents may be going too far. And that's what defendinnovation.org calls for in its seventh point: a study to determine if software patents actually benefit the economy.
zz6549
3 / 5 (3) Jun 19, 2012
Patents aren't in place to protect IP such as software, music, games, etc. That's what copyrights are for. Copyright protection is absolutely critical to a technological society, because without them software creation would diminish considerably. Developers need to eat too.

Patents, on the other hand, serve the purpose of protecting an idea. This is fine for certain software such as compression algorithms which are complex and specific, but in a vast number of cases the idea is much too vague. For instance, patent US5838906 for a "browser plugin" is too limiting. It's like trying to patent the act of putting a plug inside a socket. If such a patent had been awarded, every single electrical connector we have today would be in violation of it.

Those who award patents need to have a much greater understanding of software design, or they risk dampening innovation considerably.
ziphead
3.7 / 5 (9) Jun 20, 2012
Who cares? IP is an illegitimate concept that has no place in a free society.


Then clearly, you have never created nor intend to create anything somebody would be willing to pay for.
JRi
4 / 5 (5) Jun 20, 2012
As a chemist, I find patents very important. Without companies publishing their findings, it would be very hard to figure out the current level of technology. I use other people's patents as a source for new ideas.
MrRubbs
3 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2012
At our best we can do amazing things, look how long the pyramids have lasted! If there had been patent trolls so far back, we'd have nothing. Rather than choose the most efficient method/tools to complete a product, we waste enormous effort trying to make it different, how much as this held back the teaching of anything computer related, and it's acceptance by most of society!
frajo
2 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2012
Some people do represent a cultural low by confusing market prices with value.
But that's only their ideology. In real life they don't kill their parents when they have stopped to produce anything of worth.

The most important inventions were given to mankind in times without any patent, copyright, and IP method to make the poor poorer.
alfie_null
5 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2012
Focus on the objective: provide incentive for creators to create in a way that benefits society.
I have no doubt I benefit significantly from inventions that wouldn't have been accomplished without patent protection. Inventing something, bringing it to market, can be hard work, can require significant resources. Commenters here who don't agree with IP protection: I'd be interested to hear what you've contributed to society gratis.

If an organization has a poor track record of employing their patents thus, it should be hard for them to get new patents.

If small, agile organizations are better at employing their patented IP, it should be easier (i.e. less expensive) for them to defend their patents (i.e. against larger entities with deep pockets).

Finally, our legal system (lawyers, juries) doesn't handle these sorts of technical issues very well. An alternative would be nice.
frajo
3 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2012
Commenters here who don't agree with IP protection: I'd be interested to hear what you've contributed to society gratis.


Every single comment I've written on PhysOrg.
roboferret
5 / 5 (2) Jun 20, 2012
Speaking as a software developer, I'm all for getting rid of patents on software. In fact, it is already excluded from patent protection here in the UK and Europe. I can see the point of patents in the pharmaceutical industry. Maybe some sort of regulated licencing could put in place, where companies are required to licence their product for a reasonable price after five years after medical approval, and then full expiry after ten. There needs to be a more nuanced, flexible approach to serve both the needs of the various industries and the consumer. Handing a company a monopoly for a generation - or no protection at all - is a bit of a blunt weapon these days.
LariAnn
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2012
I'd like to know how an independent inventor would get anything at all from their creations if there was no patent or IP protection. As it is, even with proof that they invented something legitimately, anyone with money and lack of ethics can come along and take their invention to market, leaving the inventor with almost no recourse unless that inventor already has plenty of money for litigation. Even with a patent, the patent is only as good as the ability of the inventor to fight infringers is. If the inventor has no funds or ability to fight for the rights, the patent is essentially useless. So we do need a method to encourage innovation without encouraging theft and/or unethical dealings with inventors.
chromosome2
5 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2012
I think true genius finds a way, and our world needs more Teslas, not more Edisons. True inspiration makes its own way. Our world is changed time and time again by the thoughts that enshackle the mind and present it to itself as a ransom for passage into reality. Money may be necessary, but it is not humanity's only motivator. This earth is covered in constructs created out of passion, love, hate, curiosity, and the desire to be remembered, and I think, with 7 billion people, what little else we need can be gained without government involvement in the market of ideas.
0000000
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 23, 2012
Anyone who thinks we don't need patent laws to protect people's hard work and innovation has no conception of the types of advocacy for the common man that made this a great country in the first place and should probably brush up on their history or go live elsewhere.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2012
If people can't own what they create then they can't sell it.


And after they sell it, should they have any more rights to it?

The current IP laws make it possible for creators and owners of IP to have their cake and eat it as well. They can choose to never give out the product itself, and yet they can sell it indefinitely, and it never runs out because what they sell is immaterial.

Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 24, 2012
The sale of ideas to those who are privileged enough to afford to purchase them is the ultimate form of slavery (intellectual slavery) for those who can not.

Those who promote commerce over fundamental liberties such as freedom of thought are themselves, undeserving of the the first ultimate privilege, that of being alive.

Those who defend IP for commerce are suffering from a sickness and evil of such magnitude that their material existence is forfeit.


"I assume by IP you mean (private) Intellectual Property. If so, the above quote is wrong, and here's why:
If people can't own what they create then they can't sell it." - Randith
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2012
for a limited time I grant those who produce a novel machine and register the device, the exclusive right to build and sell those machines. After a time - say 20 years - that right is lost and the design falls into the public domain where anyone can build and sell the device.

I grant absolutely such right for anything that is non-physical. None.. Zero.. Zip... Nada.. Nothing..

There can be no legitimate claim to ownership of ideas, concepts, plans, methods, thoughts, intentions, notions, or anything that is not realized as a physical mechanism.

No argument based on profits can usurp the ultimate freedom that I demand and claim to freedom of thought.

"Anyone who thinks we don't need patent laws to protect people's hard work" - ZERO

Filth.

Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 24, 2012
Edison is a hero to many Americans, but history shows that he was a sheister, and a crook, who took credit for the inventions of others - and then promoted those inventions like a carnival barker at a flea circus.

If Edison personally invented anything I am unaware of it, and yes TESLA was a true inventor, visionary and Genius who is truly deserving of accolades.

"I think true genius finds a way, and our world needs more Teslas, not more Edisons." - Chromosome2
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 24, 2012
Some holes that people want dug, will never get dug.

"That's the key problem: some IP that people want wouldn't ever get created." - randith

Capitalism is the servant, not the master.

Those who sell their intellectual soul to a Capitalist master are unworthy of having a soul in the first place and have immediately lost their status as a human being.

They immediately acquire the human rights carried by a carrot or a kidney bean, or a grain of rice.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2012
Claptrap. Linux provides the most obvious counter example. As does virtually all of the software that runs under it.

There are tens of thousands of open source software packages that have been written or are being written.

There isn't a single major closed source application that doesn't have an equally compelling open source application that is free to use, modify and redistribute.

The claim that IP is essential for a modern economy is nothing more than Sycophant Garbage coming from those who are sellouts, those who are too ignorant to hold an opinion, or those who are simply motivated by pure evil.

"Copyright protection is absolutely critical to a technological society, because without them software creation would diminish considerably." - zz6459
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2012
All of the code I have produced is clearly documented to be free to use for anyone for any purpose, commercial or otherwise. I simply request acknowledgment.

"Then clearly, you have never created nor intend to create anything somebody would be willing to pay for." - ZipHead

Coding is part art, and part applied science. It is joy, it is heartbreak, it is frustration and it is intellectual pleasure.

There are those who code for money and there are those who screw for money. I don't deny either the right to do so, but I will no more accept the demand from someone who codes for money that they have exclusive rights to the act than I would accept such a demand from a whore who screws for money.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 24, 2012
You can't "invent" an idea.

An invention is a physical manifestation of an idea. You have limited protection for such machines.

But you will never have any protection for an idea. I will violate any and all rights you claim to such, and do so in any and every way possible, as will all moral people.

"I'd like to know how an independent inventor would get anything at all from their creations if there was no patent or IP protection." - Lari
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2012
There isn't a single major closed source application that doesn't have an equally compelling open source application that is free to use, modify and redistribute.


Then why are so few people using them? A conspiracy?
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 24, 2012
There are a variety of reasons from lack of quality, lack of polish, simple momentum, as well as implementation barriers that prohibit interoperability by design.

"Then why are so few people using them?" - Eikka

If I have to live in a world that uses Microsoft word as a means of communicating text then if I wish to compete then I need to be able to read and write Microsoft word files.

Since the ability to do so requires propriatory information that Microsoft is unwilling to share, then the competition is at a disadvantage.

A lack of format/protocol documentation, and the legal protection of those protocols, formats is the principle means by which software companies maintain a strangle hold on a market sector.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 25, 2012
There are a variety of reasons from lack of quality, lack of polish, simple momentum, as well as implementation barriers that prohibit interoperability by design.


Then they aren't really "equally compelling", are they?

My observation is that the Linux software economy is not as free as it wants to believe itself, because it's been bounded by ideology and petty politics. Pick any Linux distro, and the number of different software packages directly available to use is limited to a few thousand.

The entry for new competitors is difficult, downright impossible if you're trying to make any money with your product. It isn't only about MS Word vs. Open Office. My favorite case is Hugin vs. Autopano Pro. One is free, the other costs money; guess which one works better and which one you can download from the Ubuntu software repository?

Sure, there's a .deb for Autopano Pro, but it may or may not be compatible, and it may or may not stop working with the next distro upgrade.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 25, 2012
There's also the annoying habit of programs like Hugin to be helpful in the wrong way. For example, I specified to install it in English, and even though my operating system is installed in English, it still manages to figure out that I'm not in an English speaking country and translates the whole user interface automatically.

I can understand the language, but all the technical terms are unfamiliar and they seem to be pulled out of a hat by whoever did the translation, and I can't google for the proper english names of things because I don't yet know what they're supposed to be.

Also, the whole thing crashed half way into finding the alignment point for the panorama. This is something I've come to expect of most free software.
ERW
5 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2012
Whatever the length of time is granted for a patent, the time granted for copyright protection should be brought in line to a similar length of time. Copyrights can be as long as 120 years, which is patently unfair (excuse the pun). The amount of effort that goes into creating patentable and copyrightable material is roughly equivalent, and the length of time for protection should also be commensurate.
frajo
5 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2012
There isn't a single major closed source application that doesn't have an equally compelling open source application that is free to use, modify and redistribute.

Then why are so few people using them? A conspiracy?

Yes. It's the same conspiracy that inflicts overweight, aggression wars, and illiteracy. Donald Duck instead of Dostoyevsky.

My favorite case is Hugin vs. Autopano Pro.

Also, the whole thing crashed half way into finding the alignment point for the panorama. This is something I've come to expect of most free software.

Nice example of the pars-pro-toto fallacy.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (3) Jun 26, 2012
I grant absolutely such right for anything that is non-physical. None.. Zero.. Zip... Nada.. Nothing..

There can be no legitimate claim to ownership of ideas, concepts, plans, methods, thoughts, intentions, notions, or anything that is not realized as a physical mechanism.


You wouldn't feel this way if you ever had an original thought, idea, or plan that was worth anything...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2012
You wouldn't feel this way if you ever had an original thought, idea, or plan that was worth anything...

It really depends on the type of person you are. For example in science it is standard practice to publish your ideas (and once they are published then that's it - you can't really patent it after that). And many of the ideas that are developed by scientists are arguably 'worth something'.

But the prevailing sentiment among scientists (in my experience) is: They are just ideas. They should be made available to anyone. You don't own a mathematical proof just beacuse you came up with it.

If you can have an idea then that idea can come to another person, too. There is no really big deal in being the first to have an idea (other than that you get to be the one whose paper is cited - which is neat).

It's like running the 100 yards in less than 10 seconds. Someone was the first to do it. But is he therefore better than anyone else who has done it since?
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2012
AA, not all people can come up with all ideas... to come up with many good ideas that benefit many people you need to be educated and work hard to understand the sciences... why should that effort that you put in to your own education which results in a benefit to everyone go unrewarded? Should you just give away freely that which you have worked for your entire life?

I believe that people should be rewarded for the fruits of their efforts according to the benefit those efforts have on society, is that wrong? If we do not have the expectation for reward then there is no incentive to put forth the effort to get yourself into a position to have such brilliant ideas and if that occurs the number of people who could potentially have these ideas will drastically diminish and the rate of our scientific and technological progress will stagnate.

Let me say it again, the ONLY reason someone will spend 100k and 6 years in college studying a difficult topic is the expectation of reward.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2012
It's really very simple, it costs a FORTUNE to become a scientist who is capable of making a discovery that changes society for the better... most of the people that fall in that category have 6 or 8 year degrees which cost them, personally, a hundred thousand dollars or more. College/University is an INVESTMENT, and only a fool would invest without the expectation of a greater return. The return only comes from selling your ideas and discoveries... and we all do this one way or another. I am sure AA get's paid by someone for his efforts... despite what he says about giving them away freely.

You can't possibly tell me that someone is going to spend 100k to get a degree and then give away freely everything that comes from that knowledge... how would he ever repay the loans he took out to get to where he is?

This idealist nonsense is very touching and everything, but it is not reality. People need to be rewarded for their efforts or the entire system collapses.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 27, 2012
why should that effort that you put in to your own education which results in a benefit to everyone go unrewarded?

It doesn't go unrewarded. As a scientist it's your job to come up with novel ideas (and you get paid a salary for doing just that). While I had that profession I didn't feel my ideas were 'stolen' from me. Having ideas is fun. I couldn't care less if anyone else takes one and turns it into a company. Good for them!

As I said before: the additude of a scientist towards finding stuff out is different. Money is, on the whole, pretty secondary for someone working in that profession. If a scientist wanted to earn a lot of money he'd switch over and go work for a company.
(Taking myself as an example: I got a job right afterwards doing stuff that is much less demanding and having regular hours (and no weekend work!) while earning more than three times than what I got as a scientist. And I'm only being paid marginally above industry standard for what I do.)
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 27, 2012
It's really very simple, it costs a FORTUNE to become a scientist who is capable of making a discovery that changes society for the better

No more so than any other university degree. Depending on what country you live in it costs you next to nothing (other than 'not earning money while others do' for a couple more years. But that's not really a fair comparison.)

In germany (and most other european nations AFAIK), going to university is basically free. If you can't afford to you can apply for help (670Euros per month, half of which is an interst free loan, the rest you don't have to pay back at all, sole condition is regular attendance... plus about 100 Euros per kid per month if you already have children).
So even if you need that help the money youowe at the end is quickly paid back as soon as you get a job. (I just had a tutoring job on the side and didn't apply for the 'loan' - so I got out without a cent of debt)

Arguably german/european universities aren't that b
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 27, 2012
Then they aren't really "equally compelling", are they? - Eikka

No, they remain equally compelling. It isn't the software that is problematic at this point, it is ancillary factors like perceived risk, or resistance to change, that is slowing the adoption of open source software.

"Sure, there's a .deb for Autopano Pro, but it may or may not be compatible, and it may or may not stop working with the next distro upgrade." - Eikka

Open source isn't confined simply to Linux software. And yes, Linux/Unix has always been a problem due to versioning.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 27, 2012
There is a philosophy among Unix/Linux adherents that all defaults must be set to be maximally incorrect. The idea is that if they are wrong, then it forces the user to set them to a proper, desired, setting.

This ideology has it's origins in the C programming Language, where all desired settings and all default behaviours are maximally wrong.

"There's also the annoying habit of programs like Hugin to be helpful in the wrong way." - Eikka
Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2012
To be clear, most free software is crap. In fact most commercial software is crap.

I have a house guest who is finishing off a movie. He is using Sony Vegas (commercial) for some editing and Blender (freeware) for some content creation. Both crash. But Sony (version 10 plus) is absolutely unstable.

"Also, the whole thing crashed half way into finding the alignment point for the panorama. This is something I've come to expect of most free software." - Eikka

On the other hand virtually all of the software I use is freeware/shareware and all of it works well - but selection of which application actually works, is difficult.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2012
So your mind is so polluted by money that you can't conceive of anyone coming up with new ideas, and inventions and giving them away free as open source software, or as a scientific paper, etc. etc. etc...

"You wouldn't feel this way if you ever had an original thought, idea, or plan that was worth anything.." - DeathTard

You might wish to check out the following sites.

http://sourceforge.net/
http://www.nature.com/
http://makeprojects.com/

Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2012
No one of significance cares what a money grubber "believes".

"I believe..." - DeathTard
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 27, 2012
Sure, there's a .deb for Autopano Pro, but it may or may not be compatible, and it may or may not stop working with the next distro upgrade.

And Microsoft/Apple may decide to dump whole technology sectors (windows phone. Their first attempt at a tablet. Silverlight soonish, too many others to count ...). Or stop supporting stuff on their next upgrade (e.g. many games and applications from XP to Windows 7) ...even entire languages (e.g. J sharp) from one day to the next.

Open source at least means that if all else fails YOU can fix bugs in it.
So you can live a lot more easily with open source than with closed source in software development. Especially if you work with open/common data formats (which Microsoft mostly doesn't. So if they ever dump one of their software packages you're stuck with data you can't read/use...forever).
Deathclock
1 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2012
"It doesn't go unrewarded. As a scientist it's your job to come up with novel ideas (and you get paid a salary for doing just that)."

Where do you think your salary comes from? The only reason you can make a salary is because someone owns a company that is able to make a profit from the ideas and innovations of it's employees.

You guys really have no idea how the world works...
Deathclock
1 / 5 (3) Jun 27, 2012
It just makes no sense whatsoever to be of the opinion that people should not be able to make the most of their abilities and their efforts to their own benefit... any notion to the contrary reeks of slavery or oppression and is quite frankly disgusting to anyone of a sound mind.

Yeah, sharing is nice and we are all taught to share in kindergarten but if you have a talent or a skill that you invested a large amount of time and effort into refining and perfecting and other people want the result of that skill why shouldn't you be able to benefit from it to whatever degree you can manage? It's YOUR talent and YOUR skill, you worked hard for it, it does not belong to everyone because everyone didn't put the effort in to create it, YOU did.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 27, 2012
Where do you think your salary comes from?

Really depends on where you're a scientist at and what you're working on. If it's a public institution (university, national research institute, etc. ) it's a mix of tax money and money from companies.
If it's more basic research then more of the former (to the point of being almost exclusively tax money), if it's more targetted towards application specific research more of the latter.

antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 27, 2012
shouldn't you be able to benefit from it to whatever degree you can manage?

You do benefit from it. Job satisfaction. There's hardly a job more satisfying than one where you go: "I'll decide what I'll do and how I'll go about it...and along the way I'll do (and learn) stuff no one has ever done before". (i.e. you even benefit from it personally through deeper understanding of...well...most everything by continually excercising your mind to its limits)

'Normal' jobs just earn you money to spend in your off time - and you're not really invested in them (you wouldn't show up there if they didn't pay you).
Science is what you would choose to do in your off time anyhow (all sciemtists will work weekends no questions asked) - and people even pay you for doing it! If that isn't neat I don't know what is.

Not all benefits are monetary. And science is certainly one of the things you DON'T go into for the money.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2012
That's all nice and idealistic but it doesn't change reality and it doesn't really address my point. Granted scientists enjoy their work and everything I get that, it's great, it doesn't change the fact that your ideas as a scientist have value and that value is the reason you can draw a salary and without that value that leads to that salary you would not be able to practice science because you would need to spend 8 hours a day in some other building doing something else in order to make a living.

Good ideas have value, if you think otherwise you are deluding yourself. If I am the first one to have a good idea then its value belongs to me... because it came from the efforts I put into myself to put me in a position to have that idea in the first place. Who are you to tell me what I MUST do with that that idea, that value, to tell me that I MUST give it away freely? That is slavery... the opposite of freedom.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2012
In a very real way, AA, the value of your ideas ALLOW you to continue practicing science on a full time basis... and you want to advocate that those ideas should be free for everyone to take as soon as you come up with them? You would stop collecting a salary, and you would have to go work doing something else for the majority of your time... you wouldn't be able to continue doing what you love on anything more than a part time basis while you make a living elsewhere.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2012
it doesn't change the fact that your ideas as a scientist have value

I'm not arguing that the ideas don't have value. I'm arguing that the ideas of a scientist aren't valued by the scientist the same way other people value things.

(Most) other people value things in dollars (or Euros if you prefer). Scientists aren't stupid. They KNOW that they can earn many times what they earn as a scientist elsewhere. They KNOW that they can easily get such a job.
They also KNOW that they could take their ideas and start up a company.
Most scientists I know value the knowledge ("ars gratia artis" if you so will) and don't give a damn about the monetary value of their ideas.

Starting up a company is just not fun. It's a lot of paperwork. You have to manage. You don't get to do science. And when all is said and done: what can money buy you? Car? House?
But when you already do what is most fun and have all the recognition you could want, would you give that up for money?
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2012
Generally the government through the funding of the university system. Sometimes from private organizations, charities, or in rare occasions, business.

"Where do you think your salary comes from?" - DeathTard

Pathetic, that you don't have a clue as to how science works, or how it is funded.

Of course, science has value to society. But scientists generally ignore that aspect of their research and exchange ideas freely. it is this free exchange of knowledge that makes science work efficiently. Without it, scientists would be repeatedly performing the same experiments and coming to long arrived at conclusions that were hidden by others to protect their "value".

In science, knowledge is freely exchanged, with the knowedge that not doing so damages society.

On that basis alone (and there are many other reasons), the concept of information "ownership" is illegitimate.

The strongest argument for the illegitimacy of information ownership comes from the mutability of information.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2012
Information can not be recorded or transmitted without first being encrypted onto some physical media, be it paper, light, compression waves, etc. The decryption of that information is open to interpretation and no two messages can be said to contain the same or different information without context.

2 grok 2 wombat 4 might be intrepreted to mean 2 plus 2 equals 4 or 2 times 2 equals 4 or 2 to the power of 2 equals 4, or it could be interpreted to mean close the front door, or Slit the Lying Throat of Rush Limbaugh.

Without a means of defining what information is, and when two messages are identical, any claim to ownership rights to information is entirely illegitimate, and without rational foundation.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2012
Open source at least means that if all else fails YOU can fix bugs in it.


No, I can't.

Because I'm not a bloody programmer. I don't know how to fix it.

Open source isn't confined simply to Linux software. And yes, Linux/Unix has always been a problem due to versioning.


Interestingly enough, both Hugin and Autopano Pro are available for Linux/Windows/OSX, and more interestingly they're both based on the same set of algorithms and code that are open source. Hugin is the OSS version, and Autopano is the propriaterized version.

Hugin crashes often, is unwieldy to use and produces poor results. This is endemic to almost all OSS products I've used. Looking at past versions, it seems that OS software targeted for end users, that manage to become better than barely useful, have a tendecy to leave the open source model behind and become regular commercial software.

It's a result of the power law that 20% of the work is making it work, and 80% is making it work well.
AtlasT
4 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2012
Because I'm not a bloody programmer. I don't know how to fix it.
Access to program source often doesn't imply, you may be able to compile it. Usually some tiny, but substantial part of project or its configuration is "missing" - so you even cannot make sure, the source code corresponds the binaries you're using. This makes the advantage of the access to the source code rather illusory.
Deathclock
1.8 / 5 (6) Jun 28, 2012
I'm not arguing that the ideas don't have value. I'm arguing that the ideas of a scientist aren't valued by the scientist the same way other people value things.


That may be the case, but if other people didn't value the monetary potential of your ideas you would be out of work, and without the ability to claim ownership of those ideas the monetary value vanishes.

most people value things in dollars. Scientists aren't stupid. They KNOW that they can earn many times what they earn as a scientist elsewhere. They KNOW that they can easily get such a job. They also KNOW that they could take their ideas and start up a company.


...and many do, so presumably you are talking about the ones that don't...

Most scientists I know value the knowledge ("ars gratia artis" if you so will) and don't give a damn about the monetary value of their ideas.


Sure, but someone does, which is why they get paid to come up with them... without that, where would you be?
Noumenon
2.6 / 5 (8) Jun 28, 2012
Those who promote commerce over fundamental liberties such as freedom of thought are themselves, undeserving of the the first ultimate privilege, that of being alive.- Vendicar_Decarian


Spoken like a true mush-headed liberal. Property rights have zero to do with "freedom of thought".

Noumenon
2 / 5 (8) Jun 28, 2012
Information can not be recorded or transmitted without first being encrypted onto some physical media, be it paper, light, compression waves, etc. The decryption of that information is open to interpretation and no two messages can be said to contain the same or different information without context.

2 grok 2 wombat 4 might be intrepreted to mean 2 plus 2 equals 4 or 2 times 2 equals 4 or 2 to the power of 2 equals 4, or it could be interpreted to mean close the front door, or Slit the Lying Throat of Rush Limbaugh.

Without a means of defining what information is, and when two messages are identical, any claim to ownership rights to information is entirely illegitimate, and without rational foundation.


What a bunch of non-nonsensical meaningless non-sense,... the usual mush logic employed by degenerate criminals when justifying theft.
Noumenon
2.3 / 5 (7) Jun 28, 2012
I'm not arguing that the ideas don't have value. I'm arguing that the ideas of a scientist aren't valued by the scientist the same way other people value things.


That's because the typical ideas of scientists are merely minutiae advancements to a larger intellectual compendium created by countless thousands,... and so as a result, cannot be made readily into marketable form.

Universities employ research scientists to create Value in the university itself, by harbouring advancements and thus attracting paying students, ... all done for the same basic reason that the private sector employ research scientists,.. money.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2012
That may be the case, but if other people didn't value the monetary potential of your ideas you would be out of work

Sure, and that's the one of the reasons scientists get employed. Another would be that society has problems that can be solved or wishes that can be fulfilled via knowledge/technology but aren't necessarily the "you can put a dollar value on it"-type (archaeology, astronomy to some degree, some areas of biology, ... )

Sure, but someone does, which is why they get paid to come up with them... without that, where would you be?

As noted above. Ars gratia artis does get financed. E.g. opera houses get money - but they don't produce really 'valuable' stuff in terms of dollars. Nevertheless we value that we have them and are better off for it. Culture is one of those "hard to put into dollars" things.

And quite frankly: If dollars are the bottom line to everything at some time then we, as a species, have ironically become worthless.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2012
Universities employ research scientists to create Value in the university itself, by harbouring advancements and thus attracting paying students,

Only in the US (and some very few other countries) is it necessary to attract 'paying students'. Many other countries think that people should have equal access to education based on their abilities - not based on their (or their parents') wallet size.
(You know: Countries that take 'liberty', 'equality', and 'pursuit of happiness' -and all those other buzzwords- seriously)

Their universities aren't free from any kind of pressure to excellence. They just want to attract the BEST students not the RICHEST. (Two factors that don't correlate too well in my experience)
Noumenon
2.8 / 5 (8) Jun 28, 2012
@antialias_physorg,... The entire analogy with respect to scientists hypothetical superiority in freedom of information, is constructed upon typical idealist misunderstanding,...

You can not legally obtain a patent for a fundamental law of nature, nor physical phenomena in natural form, nor mathematical formulas, nor algorithms as such. Only applications of these can be legally patented.

Of course, science has value to society. But scientists generally ignore that aspect of their research and exchange ideas freely.


False. Scientific Ideas that are Marketable are usually patented without hesitation*, as the liberal scientists you imagine, love wealth just as much as Randites do,... they just lie about it to maintain their naive idealistic house of cards.

* i.e. chemical and pharmaceutical industry, etc, etc.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2012
That is because property rights can not be legitimately assigned to information.

"Property rights have zero to do with "freedom of thought"." - NumenTard
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2012
By the university, not by the scientist.

The university system in America has been converted into a corporate entity.

And that is one of the reasons that the American University system is in decline.

"Scientific Ideas that are Marketable are usually patented without hesitation*" - NumenTard
Noumenon
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 28, 2012
By the university, not by the scientist.

The university system in America has been converted into a corporate entity.

And that is one of the reasons that the American University system is in decline.

"Scientific Ideas that are Marketable are usually patented without hesitation*" - Noumenon


There are plenty of scientists in the private sector that are in the same circumstance. If you work for a corporation, that corporation owns the works that you perform on the job, since it is paying for that service.

With the application of their knowledge, Scientists are free to create marketable value via patent rights, on their own time or in agreement with a corporation,... and many do so and become rich as a result,... but many others don't because they can't.

As I said, the point is, scientists as such, don't deal in applications of their non-patentable fundamental research,... so such analogies or comparisons with Patent rights are misplaced liberal confusion.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2012
NumenTard simply can't comprehend that the information content of a message is dependent not on the symbols, used or the encryption method employed, but by the context in which the message is interpreted.

"What a bunch of non-nonsensical meaningless non-sense" - NumenTard

Thus the information content is always intimately related to perception, conception and thought.

One can not divorce ideas and thought from information. Both are always required for information to be exchanged.

As a result, any attempt to foolishly apply ownership rights to information necessarily means restricting the rights of freedom of thought for everyone but the assigned "rights holder."

There are many other reasons why the concept of information ownership necessarily leads to the ultimate loss of cognative liberty. The next most fundamental reason is the need to physically encode (encrypt) information onto a physical media for it to be stored, or transmitted.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2012
The next reason is the ability to duplicate information without limit without depriving any "rights holder" from possessing or using that information themselves. Piracy deprives them of nothing, but laws prohibiting piracy do deprive everyone else from expressing the same thoughts themselves.

Applying ownership rights to information is not only impractical, but it is the ultimate loss of individual liberty possible.
Deathclock
1.2 / 5 (5) Jun 28, 2012
Sure, and that's the one of the reasons scientists get employed.


It's the only reason.

Another would be that society has problems that can be solved or wishes that can be fulfilled via knowledge/technology but aren't necessarily the "you can put a dollar value on it"-type


Then society is footing the bill through government representation and taxation, there is no difference here. There is a desire for good ideas and there is the willingness to pay for those ideas... no different.

...we value that we have them and are better off for it.


Follow the money, understand where it comes from and why, your opera house example is no different than any other business, they are funded because people value them, and if another opera house down the street stole their new idea for an opera some of the money would go elsewhere and the incentive to produce new operas would be diminished due to a diminished expected return.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2012
An Illustration.

Context: Slit = Wash

Message: Someone must slit NumenTard's ignorant Libertarian/Randite Throat.
Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (8) Jun 28, 2012
The next reason is the ability to duplicate information without limit without depriving any "rights holder" from possessing or using that information themselves. Piracy deprives them of nothing,


Absolutely false. Piracy (by definition a criminal act) prevents the copyright holder from earning a return on investment. By flooding the market with unpayed for copyrighted material, you effectively degenerate industries into the "public domain standard",... which is by definition, valueless.

What low-class degenerate mentality, would express desire for another's work but not wish to pay him for creating it? Socialism, unions, and communism are results of such disgusting emotionally driven symptoms of leftist weakness and envy of others.
Deathclock
1.8 / 5 (6) Jun 28, 2012
And quite frankly: If dollars are the bottom line to everything at some time then we, as a species, have ironically become worthless.


I don't see how... money is merely a representation of value, it is a stand-in for an abstract concept that allows us to exchange what we have for what we desire without carrying around our goods in huge carts in order to barter with them.
Noumenon
2.7 / 5 (7) Jun 28, 2012
An Illustration.

Context: Slit = Wash

Message: Someone must slit NumenTard's ignorant Libertarian/Randite Throat.


As I thought, a degenerate criminal, and parasite on all that is valued. Typical "progressive" liberal mush head who lacks basic knowledge of economics, and is too incompetent to accept competition and capitalism.

Such profoundly immature internet "tuff guys" would never make such threats if they were face to face.
Noumenon
2.1 / 5 (7) Jun 28, 2012
Thus the information content is always intimately related to perception, conception and thought.

One can not divorce ideas and thought from information. Both are always required for information to be exchanged.

As a result, any attempt to foolishly apply ownership rights to information necessarily means restricting the rights of freedom of thought for everyone but the assigned "rights holder."

....concept of information ownership necessarily leads to the ultimate loss of cognitive liberty. - Immature Troll


It appears piracy supporters think they can justify their degenerate criminal activity by 'analyzing' information at the molecular level.

Placing a blank DVD into you computer and criminally duplicating movies, books, music, or software, for use or distribution without compensating those who created that work, does not in anyway enable you "freedom of thought", nor does it prevent "loss of cognitive liberty". What that does is to define you as a useless parasite.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2012
You can not legally obtain a patent for a fundamental law of nature, nor physical phenomena in natural form, nor mathematical formulas, nor algorithms as such.

- You can patent a software algorithm (e.g. the Marching Cubes algorithm was patented, forcing the development of a workaround until that patent expired in 2005. I know this because I wanted to use it as part of my diploma thesis in 2000, but couldn't)
- You can patent DNA (isolated gene markers for diagnostic tests. Naturally occuring or altered)

There is a desire for good ideas and there is the willingness to pay for those ideas... no different.

But not necessarily because there is money in it (what money is there in astronomical observations of distant galaxies?)

Deal with it: Scinence is certainly paid with money. But money plays a very subordinate role to scientists. As the old joke goes: As long as you don't sweat, freeze or mating organs are hanging out of your clothes: you're good.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2012
VD is arguing from the point of view that only things that are tangible can be subject to possession... an archaic notion to say the least.
Deathclock
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 28, 2012
But not necessarily because there is money in it (what money is there in astronomical observations of distant galaxies?)


That is difficult to quantify, I'll give you that. However, the value could easily be in the journey rather than the destination. The R&D to develop the tools necessary to observe those distant galaxies certainly produces technologies, techniques, and ideas which have obvious value that is possible to monetize.

Deal with it: Scinence is certainly paid with money. But money plays a very subordinate role to scientists.


Only if they don't realize that without it they wouldn't be afforded the opportunity to do what they love without severe personal sacrifice.

As the old joke goes: As long as you don't sweat, freeze or mating organs are hanging out of your clothes: you're good.


I don't know, maybe in Germany, not in the US. Poverty in this country is only having one car for your family and a television smaller than 55"
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2012

Only if they don't realize that without it they wouldn't be afforded the opportunity to do what they love without severe personal sacrifice.

Look, scientists know it takes money to do science. They know that the money they are getting paid with comes from somewhere. Scientists aren't stupid.
But you have been arguing that scientists do this just for the money or that they really want to hug their ideas to their chests because they're 'valuable'. And that just isn't the case. I could go on about this forever but you'll just have to go out and ask a few scientists to believe me.

They don't publish for the money. They publish because others publish, too. It's the exchange of ideas that makes science possible. If no one would share then it would just stop dead in its tracks (or at the very least slow down to a crawl). Scientists don't war with each other. They don't even compete (in the way most people understand the term).
Deathclock
1 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2012
But you have been arguing that scientists do this just for the money or that they really want to hug their ideas to their chests because they're 'valuable'. And that just isn't the case.


This is the misunderstanding, I have not been arguing that... I have been arguing that SOMEONE must fill that role (scientist or not), or the scientists that DON'T care about monetary gain would be out of work.
frajo
1 / 5 (2) Jun 29, 2012
the point of view that only things that are tangible can be subject to possession... an archaic notion to say the least.

Possession is the Original Sin of mankind.
Bonobos don't need possession.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 29, 2012
I have been arguing that SOMEONE must fill that role (scientist or not), or the scientists that DON'T care about monetary gain would be out of work.

Unless everyone came over to the scientists' view and no one cared about money and people started to share their ideas freely in all respects.

Which, in the long run, is the way it's going to go. I just can't believe that we'll be working forever on a barter/scarcity system that's so incredibly short sighted and enormously petty compared to the universe round us.
Deathclock
2 / 5 (4) Jun 29, 2012
AA, it is human nature to want to better your life, and that requires resources (no matter how you define "better"). There are limited resources, but there is a near unlimited demand for them. The study of economics is, most fundamentally, the study of how to divvy up limited resources amongst an unlimited demand for those resources.

No, we will not be on a barter/scarcity system forever... but we will be until we 1) Harness nuclear fusion or some other technology that allows us extract energy from our environment on a scale that dwarfs our demand for it, and 2) Completely master material manipulation such that we can fabricate anything with equally little effort by building it at the molecular level using machines (think star trek replicators).

Everything is energy... everything. Not just in physics but in economics as well. With a practically unlimited source of energy and a mechanism to use that energy to effortlessly craft whatever we desire we will have no need for money.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Jun 29, 2012
Consider, for example, our civilization 10,000 years from now... we have built a Dyson sphere and we are able to capture nearly 100% of the energy output of our star... The energy consumption of our entire species at any given time is far less than what we collect, most of it is radiated into space as waste heat (room for growth). We have completely mastered manipulating materials at the subatomic level... we can selectively induce fusion/fission to convert elements from one to the next... there is no such thing as scarcity of any given element, because we can effortless convert something with abundance to something that is scarce. Further, we can assemble material goods from raw matter (waste) using machines in mere seconds... Scarcity no longer exists in such a society. Given that economics is the study of dividing limited resources among a greater demand for those resources, and there are no more limited resources, there is no need for economics, and no need for currency or trade.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Jun 29, 2012
Oh, and I forgot to mention that all of the service industry and all of the maintenance industry is handled by robots that function perfectly... the odd jobs that still require human effort could be accomplished on a volunteer basis or through a "draft" like system or whatever. The only "work" humans would have to do with such technology would be to manage themselves (government or otherwise) and to, optionally, continue research and study to advance technology and science even further.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 29, 2012
AA, it is human nature to want to better your life, and that requires resources (no matter how you define "better").

If you define better by 'more caring', 'more aware of consequences', 'more wise', 'more intelligent', 'more healthy', ... then thatdoesn't require one ounce of resources.

Resources are only required for external stuff. A 'better car', etc.
But what has actually gotten better with that? You or the car? The car is then great. The guy inside it reamined as interchangeable as he was before. He didn't get 'better' (and he certainly didn't better *himself*).

1) Harness nuclear ..
2)Completely master material manipulation

Or 3) Figure out how to live without requiring anything (much).

But I agree: Energy and ubiquitous atomic scale 3D printing ( because I don't think we'll have an energy source that'll allow us to create significant mass out of energy any time soon) are the keys to such a future. Neither if which are too far fetched.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 29, 2012
Dyson sphere

Dyson spheres don't work.

If you want to live on the inside of one (sun being 1AU from you) then you'd have to make them as thick as the Earth to get the gravity (not enough mass for that in the solar system by a LONG shot)
If you want to spin it up to get rotational 'gravity' you can only live in a very narrow band on the equator (everywhere else will be very weird to live on as you'll get pulled to the side)

2) if you want to live on the outside of one and get 1g you'll have to build it very close to the sun (and there's still not enough mass for that in all of the solar system combined). If my quick and dirty calculations are correct then that would put the inner surface of the sphere at about three times the solar radius distance from the surface of the sun. Which would be a HELL of a construct if it could survive all the ejecta and whatnot the sun can put out (not to mention the outside would be HOT needing to radiate all that into space eventually)
Deathclock
1 / 5 (2) Jun 29, 2012
If you define better by 'more caring', 'more aware of consequences', 'more wise', 'more intelligent', 'more healthy', ... then thatdoesn't require one ounce of resources.


I disagree with you about intelligence and health... health in particular requires an assload of resources... but education is extremely expensive as well.

A 'better car'


A better car leads to more enjoyable, more comfortable experience, and a happier you every time you use it. A better car can enable you to do things you wouldn't otherwise be able to do. Cars are tools, and some are better than others at fulfilling all of their roles.

Or 3) Figure out how to live without requiring anything (much).


We know how to do that, we did that for thousands of years... nobody wants it. No matter how sound an argument is if it contradicts human nature it is irrelevant.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (2) Jun 29, 2012
Dyson spheres don't work.


Spinning with a ring habitat along the equator and energy collection apparatuses (apparati?) everywhere else.... quantity of material may not be a problem with advanced material sciences, but this is all hypothetical anyway and I don't want to argue about dyson spheres or ringworlds, it was an example.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 29, 2012
A better car can enable you to do things you wouldn't otherwise be able to do.

There's the real problem right thre: If you rely on external things to make you happy you will never be happy and content with yourself (because you'll always rely on them/be addicted to them for your 'increased happiness'). People in the poorest countries seem to be able to attain happiness that is at least on a par with what we can achieve.
health in particular requires an assload of resources

Leading a healthy lifestyle requires a lot less thany you think.
We know how to do that, we did that for thousands of years... nobody wants it.

I didn't mean to say we should forego everything. I meant to say we may be able to change ourselves (actively or passively) to a point where the bodies we inhabit do not require much in the way of resources for upkeep.
if it contradicts human nature it is irrelevant.

Human nature is not a static property.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (2) Jun 29, 2012
There's the real problem right thre: If you rely on external things to make you happy you will never be happy


I agree that happiness is not strongly correlated with physical possessions beyond a point (that point is the crossover between want and need) but regardless of this people still want things... Tell me you don't want whatever your favorite supercar is...

Leading a healthy lifestyle requires a lot less thany you think.


That's not what I meant and you know it. Medicine, surgery, longevity... The human body is far from perfect, regardless of your lifestyle.

we may be able to change ourselves to a point where the bodies we inhabit do not require much in the way of resources or upkeep.


Oh okay, so nothing that's relevant right now... maybe in the future.

Human nature is not a static property.


It's static enough on the timescales that are relevant to this discussion.