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(Related pages on {{SITENAME}}: * FRAND - discrimination via "Reasonable, and non-discriminatory" terms)
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'''Free software''' (free referring to freedom, not price) is software which can be used, copied, redistributed, and whose source code can be viewed, modified, and also redistributed.
'''Free software''' is software which can be used, copied, redistributed, and whose source code can be viewed, modified, and also redistributed.
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{{also|Free software projects harmed by software patents}}
 
{{also|Free software projects harmed by software patents}}
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"Free software" is not a subtopic of [[software patents]].  Development and distribution of all types of software carry the risk of patent infringement.  The reason these two topics often appear together is that, firstly, the free software community is very active and vocal in campaigning against software patents, and secondly, software patents threaten a general freedom that free software users value: the freedom to participate in software development.
 
"Free software" is not a subtopic of [[software patents]].  Development and distribution of all types of software carry the risk of patent infringement.  The reason these two topics often appear together is that, firstly, the free software community is very active and vocal in campaigning against software patents, and secondly, software patents threaten a general freedom that free software users value: the freedom to participate in software development.
  
The term '''open source''' is a near-synonym.  Patents affect the freedom that users and developers have when dealing with software.  Patents don't affect "openness", so {{SITENAME}} will use the term "free software".
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The term '''open source''' is a near-synonym.  Patents restrict the freedom that users and developers have when dealing with software.  Patents don't affect "openness", so {{SITENAME}} mostly uses the term "free software".
  
 
==Why free software groups should be involved==
 
==Why free software groups should be involved==
  
The free software movement says that everyone should be allowed to modify and redistribute the software they use.  Software patents interfere with this because they can add legal risks and costs to software development and distribution.
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The free software movement says that everyone should be allowed to modify and redistribute the software they use.  Software patents can directly block these freedoms, and can indirectly interfere with them because they generally add legal risks and costs to software development and distribution.
  
 
==How patents affect free software==
 
==How patents affect free software==
  
===Advantages of FS faced with patents===
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===Advantages of free software faced with patents===
  
 
* The development models are more distributed, so there's often no single big company behind a software package.  This means there are fewer tempting targets for [[patent trolls]]
 
* The development models are more distributed, so there's often no single big company behind a software package.  This means there are fewer tempting targets for [[patent trolls]]
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* Distributing source code (which is possible for free software) carries less patent risk than distributing executable binaries, according to [[SFLC]], since "''source code, like the patent disclosures themselves, teaches how the invention works, rather than being the invention [...and...] courts ''may'' find source code to be [[freedom of expression|speech]]''".<ref>http://softwarefreedom.org/resources/2011/debian-patent-policy-faq.html</ref>
 
* Distributing source code (which is possible for free software) carries less patent risk than distributing executable binaries, according to [[SFLC]], since "''source code, like the patent disclosures themselves, teaches how the invention works, rather than being the invention [...and...] courts ''may'' find source code to be [[freedom of expression|speech]]''".<ref>http://softwarefreedom.org/resources/2011/debian-patent-policy-faq.html</ref>
  
===Disadvantages of FS faced with patents===
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===Disadvantages of free software faced with patents===
  
 
* Many patent licensing agreements are structured in a way that excludes free software.  If there is a per-copy fee, even if the amount is minuscule, there's no way to comply with this requirement because distributors can't know how many copies the users will make.
 
* Many patent licensing agreements are structured in a way that excludes free software.  If there is a per-copy fee, even if the amount is minuscule, there's no way to comply with this requirement because distributors can't know how many copies the users will make.
  
 
==[[Patent promises]] in 2005==
 
==[[Patent promises]] in 2005==
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{{also|Blanket patent licences and promises}}
  
 
IBM promised, for 500 of its patents, not to use them against free software.<ref>http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-140650.html</ref>
 
IBM promised, for 500 of its patents, not to use them against free software.<ref>http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-140650.html</ref>
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* [[Free software distributors paying patent tax]]
 
* [[Free software distributors paying patent tax]]
 
* [[Free software projects harmed by software patents]]
 
* [[Free software projects harmed by software patents]]
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* [[Vulnerable free software with shielded binaries]]
 
* [[Fake representatives of free software‎]]
 
* [[Fake representatives of free software‎]]
 
* [[Harm to standards]] (examples include [[OpenGL 3]], [[MPEG video formats]], and [[GIF]])
 
* [[Harm to standards]] (examples include [[OpenGL 3]], [[MPEG video formats]], and [[GIF]])
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* [[Free software exception]] - make just free software safe from patents??
 
* [[Free software exception]] - make just free software safe from patents??
 
* [[FRAND]] - discrimination via "Reasonable, and non-discriminatory" terms
 
* [[FRAND]] - discrimination via "Reasonable, and non-discriminatory" terms
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* [[LiMux]] - project to migrate Munich city to GNU/Linux
  
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
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* [http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/04/patents-as-threat-to-free-and-open.html Patents as a threat to Free and Open Source Software], April 2010, by '''[[Florian Mueller]]'''
 
* [http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/04/patents-as-threat-to-free-and-open.html Patents as a threat to Free and Open Source Software], April 2010, by '''[[Florian Mueller]]'''
 
* [http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2010/08/16/oracle-google.html Considerations For FLOSS Hackers About Oracle vs. Google], 16 Aug 2010, by '''[[Bradley Kuhn]]'''
 
* [http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2010/08/16/oracle-google.html Considerations For FLOSS Hackers About Oracle vs. Google], 16 Aug 2010, by '''[[Bradley Kuhn]]'''
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* [http://www.infoworld.com/d/open-source-software/4-ways-open-source-protects-you-against-software-patents-230433 4 ways open source <nowiki>[free software]</nowiki> protects you against software patents], 8 Nov 2013, '''[[Simon Phipps]]'''
  
 
===Pages from GNU/Linux distributions===
 
===Pages from GNU/Linux distributions===
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* [http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Software_Patents Fedora's software patent information page]
 
* [http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Software_Patents Fedora's software patent information page]
 
** [http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/CodecBuddy fedoraproject.org's comments about swpat and media codec policy]
 
** [http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/CodecBuddy fedoraproject.org's comments about swpat and media codec policy]
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* [http://www.debian.org/legal/patent Debian Position on Software Patents]
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** [http://www.debian.org/reports/patent-faq.en.html Community Distribution Patent Policy FAQ]
  
 
==References==
 
==References==

Latest revision as of 16:29, 9 February 2014

Free software (free referring to freedom, not price) is software which can be used, copied, redistributed, and whose source code can be viewed, modified, and also redistributed.

(See also: Free software projects harmed by software patents)

"Free software" is not a subtopic of software patents. Development and distribution of all types of software carry the risk of patent infringement. The reason these two topics often appear together is that, firstly, the free software community is very active and vocal in campaigning against software patents, and secondly, software patents threaten a general freedom that free software users value: the freedom to participate in software development.

The term open source is a near-synonym. Patents restrict the freedom that users and developers have when dealing with software. Patents don't affect "openness", so en.swpat.org mostly uses the term "free software".

Contents

[edit] Why free software groups should be involved

The free software movement says that everyone should be allowed to modify and redistribute the software they use. Software patents can directly block these freedoms, and can indirectly interfere with them because they generally add legal risks and costs to software development and distribution.

[edit] How patents affect free software

[edit] Advantages of free software faced with patents

  • The development models are more distributed, so there's often no single big company behind a software package. This means there are fewer tempting targets for patent trolls
  • If a patent holder makes a threat, anyone can remove that one feature from free software packages. The patent holder could still sue for past damages, but could not force the package to be entirely removed from the market, and the continued use of that patented idea is a decision that can be made by the users, not by making a deal with a single distributor.
  • Distributing source code (which is possible for free software) carries less patent risk than distributing executable binaries, according to SFLC, since "source code, like the patent disclosures themselves, teaches how the invention works, rather than being the invention [...and...] courts may find source code to be speech".[1]

[edit] Disadvantages of free software faced with patents

  • Many patent licensing agreements are structured in a way that excludes free software. If there is a per-copy fee, even if the amount is minuscule, there's no way to comply with this requirement because distributors can't know how many copies the users will make.

[edit] Patent promises in 2005

(See also: Blanket patent licences and promises)

IBM promised, for 500 of its patents, not to use them against free software.[2]

Sun[3] and Nokia[4] subsequently made promises that were so narrow in scope, they were qualified as "empty" and "next to nothing", respectively, by Richard Stallman.[5]

[edit] Related pages on en.swpat.org

[edit] External links

[edit] Pages from GNU/Linux distributions

[edit] References

  1. http://softwarefreedom.org/resources/2011/debian-patent-policy-faq.html
  2. http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-140650.html
  3. http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9593_22-141018.html
  4. http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-142967.html
  5. http://www.linux.com/archive/feature/45271


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