[linux-elitists] Greg Aharonian (Free bonus circumvention device inside!)

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Tue Nov 6 15:35:35 PST 2001

Greg Aharonian writes:

"I have decided to write a critical review arguing that software
copyright (and dependents like TRIPS, GPL, Bernstein, Junger) should
be abolished in light of 17 USC 102b and its equivalents - for one
reason - it is bad law with no logical basis in the mathematics
and physics of information processing."

Here it is at:

In order to argue that software isn't copyrightable, Greg has to,
in effect, argue that it isn't speech.  This is fundamentally
bad, because there is no Constitutional right to manufacture or
distribute devices.  If software isn't speech, the government can
regulate programmers as they would lawnmower manufacturers.

I once had an argument with Greg about whether software should
be patentable or copyrightable (we both agree, anyway, that it
shouldn't be _both_) and the argument really didn't go anywhere
because I start by thinking what kinds of rights people _should_
have in software, and he seems to start with some Platonic ideal
of software as something that _could_ be implemented on an FPGA,
therefore _could_ be implemented in hardware, and therefore
_logically_ is indistinguishable from hardware.  (Live long and

So where do you draw the line -- what is "speech" that should be
copyrightable, and what is a "device" that should be patentable?

This is a very hard line to draw, until you realize that
-- <ObLinux>like the preemptible kernel patch using SMP
locking</ObLinux> -- there's already a line being drawn.  Why not
just say that if it's speech for purposes of the First Amendment,
that it can't be patent infringement?

And...isn't any patent law that treats speech as infringement
unconstitutional, the same way that a copyright law would  be
unconstitutional if if didn't allow fair use?  It almost makes me
wish that the BT hyperlink patent case had gone to trial.

Sorry for the utter US-centrism of this post -- do any of our non-US
readers have a "software is speech" doctrine?

Here's the world's smallest circumvention device -- get a copy of
the Fall 2001 _2600_, the new Charley Pride CD, and the cdparanoia
source to use it:


Don Marti          What do we want?  Free Dmitry!  When do we want it?  Now!
dmarti@zgp.org                                  Free the web, burn all GIFs.
KG6INA                                               http://burnallgifs.org/

More information about the linux-elitists mailing list