Patent Absurdity – or Bilski, the movie

FSF has just published a film by independent film make Luca Lucarini:

Against the backdrop of of the current Bilski case in the US Supreme Court, the film features a series of interviews explaining the absurdity of software patents and how we got into this mess. Luca and some of the cast from the film kindly agreed to answer here some of the questions you might have about the film. So fire away!

More information about the film can be found at: Patent Absurdity@swpat.org

UPDATE: Yes, we’d love to make versions with subtitles, in as many languages as possible. You can help via:
http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Patently_Absurd/Subtitles.

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177 Comments

  • Christian Monsieur says:

    Thank you. I enjoyed the film very much.

    I have a couple of questions. My first question is about using free software to make the film. Was it difficult? Has Lucarini used free software tools for his previous films, and if not, could he tell us a little bit about his experiences in creating Patent Absurdity?

    I really liked the section near the start of the movie with Mr Klemens using the chalk board to explain the math behind a software patent. It is a fun scene. Where was this filmed?

    Christian

    • Excedio says:

      I too, would love to know what software was used in the creation of the film. It was very well made.

    • Johnathan lanke says:

      According to this [http://patentabsurdity.com/about.html] page, these software packages were used:
      * Cinelerra for video editing
      * Audacity for audio editing
      * Inkscape, Python and Blender for animation
      * Ogg Theora and Ogg Vorbis codecs
      * Edited on GNU/Linux machines

  • jc nurbel says:

    Please can you translate the words in french subtitles ? that will be easyer to share with friends of mine. I support you

  • Jorge Pereira says:

    Great film,

    Thank you very much. I love it.

  • Fabien Coelho says:

    What about providing subtitles?

  • Erkan Gürel says:

    I want to hear about subtitles like @Fabien Coelho to be able to translate to my language.

  • Ted says:

    What license is the film available under? It isn’t clear from the website.

    • Tsiolkovsky says:

      At the end of the documentary it states it is under Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 or later. Too bad it is not under Attribution-Share Alike or something else that could be used to upload the documentary to the Wikimedia Commons and add the documentary to the Wikipedia article on software patents.

  • Jonathan says:

    how do play these .ogv files?

  • Eric says:

    Excellent film – I especially think the analogy to the math example is a very powerful argument and a great example, even more than the analogy to music, although that is also true.

  • Mathieu GP says:

    It makes the case against software patents very well. Hopefully this will help in reaching out to a broader audience.

    Is there plans for a collaborative project to provide subtitles in multiple languages?

  • les says:

    What a bunch of silly whining. EHarmony got a patent for calculating a metric of compatibility. It did not patent SVD. You can still make a compatibility metric by some other means and you can still use SVD for other things. You can argue that EHarmony’s method is obvious in light of SVD. But, that is not an argument that NO software is ever worthy of a patent.

    The same silly argument can be applied to mechanical inventions. Wood was known to support structures. Cloth was known to be useful in making use of air flow….so, all the Wright Bros. did was assemble known elements for know purposes. They should not have gotten a patent for their airplane. It was obvious. Yet no one had done it before. Paaaleeeese

    Stop whining and write some NEW code.

    • Fredric says:

      They got a patent on using a well known mathematical method and applying it to their specific problem. Do you suggest that each time I chose to use a well known mathematical method on a problem I should be able to patent it and blocking others from this specific method to this problem?

      • Jose_X says:

        One of the main problems, I think, is that patents make no sense when you are talking about a medium where there are many participants already. No one is that smart. When many participate, it is absolutely inconceivable that someone will defy all odds and invent what others have not already or would not be able to discover for 20 years, and have this sort of phenomenon happen over and over throughout the year, year after year. [And with almost every single case managing to be missed by the Noble Prize judges.]

        The Beethoven example in the middle and at the end is great. What more needs to be said? Patents hinder progress. 1000 10000 or even 3 minds is better than 1, always. Because none of us is that smart, not even Einstein, who had to rely on many contemporary experimental results, ideas, and even mathematics. And these guys are neither Einstein nor Beethoven (neither of which needed a patent and both of which were saved there was no patenting allowed).

        Aggravating this situation is that the Internet (for collaboration and as a resource) and advanced computing has truly created an environment where damaging monopolies would do much more damage than in the past. A bad patent includes the sort where almost anyone can acquire the preliminary skills and laboratory and then manufacture and distribute without taking significant financial risks or even time.

        Where is the scarce resource or huge costs to invent that require a monopoly incentive? Surely, the people that “invented” this spent a lot more in legal and patent fees than would the professor that would resolve the same solution in an hour. Surely, those with the unconstitutional patent aren’t that bright if they thought they needed a patent (they are “bright” in terms of knowing there was a system to be exploited).

        We are rewarding those who are impressed easily, who are arrogant, who want full credit for what clearly involved many influences from around them (me, me, me, don’t let others also come up with this), who are very greedy and don’t even care if others are working on this already, who perhaps only know something well enough to write as broad of a description of it as possible while specifying as little as possible beyond the bare minimum, and/or who are patent savvy and have money to spend on patents.

        BTW, when is the patenting game going to stop biasing against poor people? I think the patent system when applied to folks at large (vs. against a few very large corporations), besides abridging free speech to a large degree (to create functional works to share with others) and not promoting the progress (especially things like software patents and other process patents), is unconstitutional by allowing the government to discriminate in a very significant fashion against most people. See: http://webmink.com/2010/04/14/seven-patent-reforms-while-we-wait-for-nirvana/#comment-578

        • Les says:

          “One of the main problems, I think, is that patents make no sense when you are talking about a medium where there are many participants already.”

          But there aren’t many participants already. You may be saying there are a lot of people writing web page code, and that may be true.

          But there aren’t anywhere near enough people participating it trying to find me a woman!

          The patent system to MY rescue!

          Apparently the people EHarmony understood my plight and hired a team of nerds and math geeks to find a solution to my problem. They were encouraged to do so by the Patent System. They new if they solved the problem and found a way to find a woman willing to put up with me, their investment in time and effort a wages for the team could be protected and that it wouldn’t be stolen from them by someone who saw the results of their efforts and made their own version of the end results. They could get a Patent for their invention!

          Thank Goodness.

          • PrometheeFeu says:

            “They [k]new if they solved the problem and found a way to find a woman willing to put up with me, their investment in time and effort a wages for the team could be protected and that it wouldn’t be stolen from them by someone who saw the results of their efforts and made their own version of the end results.”

            You seem to be basing your argument on the flawed premise that if there were no patents, they would not have invented that system. That is unlikely at best. For one thing, people have a strong preference for originals. If EHarmony had developed that matching system and someone had copied it, EHarmony could have changed their ad campaign to exploit that to its fullest: “Look at us, we’re so good, that they stole our idea. But obviously, we have further improved the secret sauce and those other guys are still one step behind…” Furthermore, that matching technology is a minor part of why EHarmony is popular. It’s popular like all other social sites because there are already many people on it. They tech is only a little boost. The bottom line is that this patent (like most patents) is harmful not helpful to innovation.

            • Les says:

              Apparently the people at eHarmony disagree with YOUR assumptions. Else they wouldn’t have spent their time and treasure in an effort to acquire the patent.

      • Les says:

        Yes, if applying the mathematical method to that problem is new and not obvious.

        I also suggest that Einstein should have been able to patent E=mCC.

        Not squaring any number and multiplying it by another number. THAT had been done before, I’m sure. But he should have been able to patent a method for determining the energy equivalent of a mass by multiplying that mass by the speed of light squared.

        He didn’t “just assign names to variables” like the guy with the black board in the film said. He made a profound new discovery. The world had survived for a good 5000 years without access to that technique. It could have gone on for another 20 having to pay him a royalty for the privilege of taking advantage of his hard work and genius.

        Almost all inventions are combinations of known elements. All new drugs are combinations of known elements. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of protection.

        • mgillen says:

          You’re missing the point of patents. It isn’t to reward inventors for the sake of rewarding innovation. It’s to encourage invention in areas that wouldn’t be explored otherwise (because the financial advantage of being first is too small). Patents are gov’t granted monopolies, and the price paid by the patent holder is that they have to share their technique with the world. But you need to keep in mind the reason the framer’s thought it was in society-as-a-whole’s interest to grant those monopolies. If the net effect of patents is to retard innovation, then there is no incentive for society to grant them, and the whole system should be thrown under the bus.

          You’re absolutely right that the world could have gone on without e=mcc. But what would the societal benefit be to granting him a patent for it? Clearly he did not need the promise of patent protection to motivate him to do his work. And he wasn’t poorer for it either, I’m sure (you can make a pretty good living from speaker’s fees).

          The EHarmony example is also interesting. Coca-Cola has chosen not to patent their recipe, because they would rather it be a trade-secret (and therefore keep it to themselves in perpetuity). EHarmony probably wouldn’t have made any less money if they had instead kept their algorithm a trade secret. So what value did the patent have to either society or EHarmony? Probably not much.

          I would argue that with software and the speed of the modern world (thanks to the internet, etc) make being first to market, and being the best using trade-secrets, is a far more attractive proposition than many software-patent proponents believe. Did Amazon get where they are because they had the one-click patent? No, by the time that was granted they were already the dominant player. More importantly, would they have invented one-click shopping without the promise of patent protection? Of course they would have. Would they be hurt substantially if others used that technique? No, because that isn’t even one of the secondary things that distinguishes Amazon from its competitors. It’s not critical to their business to have that patent (ie their business is perfectly feasible without it).

          Patents should be granted for revolutionary advancements. The problem today is that almost all patents are for evolutionary things (ie the next logical step in the development of some field).

          • Les says:

            “EHarmony probably wouldn’t have made any less money if they had instead kept their algorithm a trade secret. So what value did the patent have to either society or EHarmony? Probably not much.”

            You’re just making stuff up. EHarmony made a business decision when it filed for the patent. They wanted to prevent Match.com and anybody else from using their method of matching people up. They thought it was the best idea, would result in better/faster matches and would make whoever used it a lot of money. So, they disclosed the method in order to get the right to exclude others from using it for a while in exchange.

            “You’re absolutely right that the world could have gone on without e=mcc. But what would the societal benefit be to granting him a patent for it? Clearly he did not need the promise of patent protection to motivate him to do his work. And he wasn’t poorer for it either, I’m sure”

            Again, you are just making stuff up. If there were patent protection available, 12 other guys might have been working on it. WWII might have been ended 5 years earlier. And the discoverers might have made a lot more in power plant royalties than they would schlepping around the world going to speaking engagements.

            “It’s to encourage invention in areas that wouldn’t be explored otherwise (because the financial advantage of being first is too small). ”

            More stuff being made up. Patents are to encourage innovation.

            Section 8: The Congress shall have power To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

            ….yadda yadda yadda

            To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

            There is no limitation to only in areas that mgillen deems appropriate.

            Besides, as I have already noted. The area of finding me a woman is an area that wouldn’t otherwise be explored. Accordingly, even by YOUR theory, EHarmony should get a patent.

            • Jose_X says:

              >> So, they disclosed the method in order to get the right to exclude others from using it for a while in exchange.

              Hopefully, Bilski will set things right again by nullifying all such patents.

              >> Again, you are just making stuff up. If there were patent protection available, 12 other guys might have been working on it. WWII might have been ended 5 years earlier. And the discoverers might have made a lot more in power plant royalties than they would schlepping around the world going to speaking engagements.

              Studies have not been kind to patents.

              Studies have also shown that where the monopolies exist, society ends up with less and paying more to that industry. Naturally, large industry participants (that can cross-license) like patents. Who doesn’t want a monopoly? [Consumers and small competitors]

              When you get the 20 year cakewalk, you can make lots of money with inferior products. Why work hard afterward in improving the product? You won’t make too much more money if any since people may very well prefer something to nothing. Competitors are tied down. The economy suffers and the wealth distribution between richest and poorest widens.

              Again, the lucky ones love it. Most people suffer. Competition keeps people on their toes always looking for an edge — like a new discovery they could take to market first!

              Note that patents are very broad and are far removed from the majority of the process of taking a marketable product to market. Patents give all to a single winner despite many being close behind and making similar discoveries for themselves. Patents encourage someone to copy and study others, making few contributions publicly (if any) nor making difficult thought so they can focus on writing up the patent application quickly to file first and get the huge prize rather than lose and be tied down or at a significant competitive disadvantage. The result is an inefficient allocation of resources and a very unfair system of rewarding. Society definitely pays the costs.

              Everyone can’t make a billion dollars for marginal contributions to society. Sure, it’s not fun traveling around the world talking about something that you find passionate (and have invested lots of time into) and getting decent money, awards, exclusive invitations, and grant offers. But if we were instead to pay that person with monopolies, the rest of society has to work harder for less. Don’t trade-offs stink?

              >> To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

              See http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk/index.php?id=177 . The Constitution does not mandate monopolies. At least the explanation you’ll find there will make sense and sound much more reasonable and characteristics of the Framers’ views. Read the comment I left at the bottom of that page. However, those with agendas did immediately set out to create the monopolies in 1790.

              >> Besides, as I have already noted. The area of finding me a woman is an area that wouldn’t otherwise be explored.

              Are you kidding? That has been one of the biggest money makers in society (if not the biggest) since man was man and women was women [I'm guessing, here a little.]

            • Karl says:

              Do you understand that this is not about eHarmony? That was just one example. Its about a broken patent system that needs to be fixed. Did you watch the entire video?

              Patents were supposed to benefit the entire society… not just a few groups of people. The very fact that patent trolls exist means the system is broken. In case you didn’t know, patent trolls are people who do not invent anything new, they just patent everything they can, then sue any companies who infringe. Usually companies are unaware that such a patent would even exist.

              If you support patents so much, how about you tell us why? How will patenting math or software help innovation without destroying the basic rights people have always had? Is there any evidence to support this? Can you explain the issues surrounding patents as well as the benefits? Can you explain the difference of how patents promote innovation compared to how competition promotes innovation?

              Just some things to think about.

              • les says:

                Yes I understand eharmony is one example. It makes no sense to argue about this in generalities. Patents are all about the specifics. The arguments I’ve made in regard to eHarmony are likely applicable in most cases. I didn’t pick the example, the anti patent crowd did. They seem to think its a very good example for their side. Accordingly, if I have a persuasive argument in regard to eharmony, (and it seems I have, since you are trying to change the subject), then it should put the point to rest.

                So called patent trolls buy patents from inventors. The inventors make a business decision to accept an immediate payout rather then attempting to make and sell the invention themselves. The role of the “patent troll” as the juvenile name callers have labeled them is legitimate.

                As to your last point… If you spend a billion dollars looking for the cure for cancer…and find that is its a particular chemical that is easy to make (and therefore copy)….what happens if the company next store just gets its hands on a 1 pill sample and starts making and selling it for 10 cents a pill? How can you sell if for 20 bucks a pill in order to get your billion dollar investment back? The answer is you can’t. Therefore, you would never have made the investment in the first place.

                That’s how society benefits. Investments are protected from theft. Therefore, investments are made and the cure for cancer is found.

                Its the same for eharmony. They made a new way of finding mates. They are entitled to prevent others from steeling their investment for 20 years or so.

                • TGM says:

                  I think you’ll find that in your particular example, the cure for cancer isn’t through patents but through charities…

                • Karl says:

                  I still think your missing the point. This is not an anti-patent crowd, its a group of people trying to fix and improve the patent system. You also did not say weather you watched the entire video.

                  “So called patent trolls buy patents from inventors. The inventors make a business decision to accept an immediate payout rather then attempting to make and sell the invention themselves. The role of the “patent troll” as the juvenile name callers have labeled them is legitimate.”

                  Can you give an example of such a legit business, as well as a patent number for one of their patents? NOTE: google has a patent search that will come in handy.

                  Do remember that patents are *only* supposed to be granted for non-obvious inventions. The USPTO however, is granting patents for very obvious “inventions”.

                  If it is possible for an invention to be invented twice (by two different people with no knowledge of each other’s invention), then said invention should not be patentable.

                  “That’s how society benefits. Investments are protected from theft. Therefore, investments are made and the cure for cancer is found.”

                  And did they ever find a real cure for cancer? By the way, when you patent math or other obvious things, your actually stealing from society. Also, copying and improving ideas is not theft, its competition.

                  “Its the same for eharmony. They made a new way of finding mates. They are entitled to prevent others from steeling their investment for 20 years or so.”

                  Actually your wrong… the price of steel has gone up, so they will be using plastic. And finding mates via the Internet is not new. In addition, the eharmoney math patent is very obvious to me, take some known human traits, then throw them into a known math problem.

                  You still did not explain the difference between the benefits of patents and the benefits of competition.

                  AFAIK, patents expire before 20 years.

                  • Les says:

                    First quote: “I still think your missing the point. This is not an anti-patent crowd, its a group of people trying to fix and improve the patent system.”

                    Second Quote: “If it is possible for an invention to be invented twice (by two different people with no knowledge of each other’s invention), then said invention should not be patentable. ”

                    So, which is your position: A)If Wilbur and Orville were never born, airplanes wouldn’t exist or B) The Wright Bros should not have been granted a patent?

                    So, which is your position: A)If Tommy E was never born, we would be typing into our computers by lamp light or B) the light bulb was not worthy of a patent?

                    If the “improvement” “they ” envision for the patent system is that nothing is patentable, I think its fair to characterize them as “the anti-patent crowd.”

                    • Karl says:

                      Actually my answer is C. Not listed above.

                      This group of people is trying fix the system, which includes not patenting obvious or already known inventions. Also, software is very different than other inventions, writing software is like writing books. All you need is creativity and a high school level math skill.

                      “If the “improvement” “they ” envision for the patent system is that nothing is patentable, I think its fair to characterize them as “the anti-patent crowd.””

                      Where does it say that we want nothing to be patentable?

                      This is not a nothing-should-be-patentable group. The common view here is that software and other obvious inventions should not be patentable. That does not mean REAL innovations [like a AA battery that never dies] should not be patentable.

                      I will also ask one more time:
                      Did you, or did you not, watch the entire video?

                • Jose_X says:

                  Speaking of specifics, did eHarmoney spend 1 billion dollars? I don’t think so.

                  Did they spend a million to come up with the idea?

                  I don’t think they deserve any monopoly time, but if 1 billion “deserves” 20 years, why would less than 1 million USD equate to any more than 1 week of monopoly as the ratio dictates?

                  And why should we pay for inefficient companies that decide to spend a bundle for what others will accomplish with lower costs?

                  Take a look at this link for other ideas on encouraging innovators while harming society much less than with monopolies: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100202/1757018011.shtml

                  Monopolies kill competition for a very long time. Without competition, prices can be several hundred percent higher or even over a thousand percent higher.

                  The Constitution does not endorse monopolies: http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk/index.php?id=177

                  Monopolies have been pushed into law by those spending money to get them promoted. They can make back this money and much more from the legalization of the monopolies.

                  It’s about time the courts or legislators kill some of this very bad law.

                  To recap some other args:

                  Someone is always the first even if the pack is right on the heels or if the pack thought the idea was too obvious to patent. The patent system creators appear to have missed this obvious flaw of the system.

                  The patent system makes no sense with its “unobvious and novel” requirements. Since when does it take 20 years to figure out something that is not obvious? I have figured out within one month many things that were not obvious at some point in time.

                  Since when is the average practitioner the one that will compete aggressively? No, we need to look at the geniuses and other very knowledgeable competition. How long will it take a genius to come up with the invention?

                  And didn’t the patent author leverage a lot of unpatented ideas from his or her time? If patents were $0 and automatic and applied to everything, eHarmony would not be able to do very much because the various partial prior art would become greater scoped existing implicit patents.

                  Les, consider rereading some of my comments on this and other threads and replying directly to them. I don’t think you are very convincing. [You are arguing with a very weak hand. You'll have an easier time arguing that business method and software patents for anything near 20 monopoly years (for starters) hurt society. You may also enjoy arguing that the patent process is broken. You picked the really difficult side of the debate.]

                  • Les says:

                    Jose -
                    Your posts are too long and ramble from point to point.

                    I posted the exact words from the U.S. Constitution and you answered that by posting a link to some page telling me what the Constitution says. I know what the Constitution says. I just pasted it here.

                    It says Congress has the power “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;”

                    In spite of that, you say the Constitution doesn’t say anything about Monopolies. No, it says EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS.

                    • Jose_X says:

                      I did not recognize the difference immediately when I first read Mr Fitch’s comments on various forums. I had gotten accustomed to interpreting that clause to mean monopolies. If you read that piece and the comments, you may realize that “exclusive rights” does not mean monopolies. A monopoly might be one way to help secure exclusive rights but that solution does not promote the progress and is not the only solution. Taking the full context of the Constitution, we can see that it makes sense that securing exclusive rights means safeguarding privacy. In other words, exclusive rights does not mean you can control what I can do with something I have in my possession (such as a copy of your manuscript). Exclusive right is what you have until you reveal the work to the world.

                      Imagine it’s 1787. It seems very plausible to me that a problem authors and inventors might have and worry about is that if competitors have an idea of what you are doing, they might hire thugs to ransack your home, take manuscripts, and then you would have no recourse against anyone beating you to the punch. Or people might spy, etc.

                      And even if the person that stole your work (remember, they didn’t have digital cameras back then) was found and had to pay something, it would not be for the “value” of the written material they would now have read. Common law or the state’s law likely did not help much (according to Fitch, it didn’t and see link below). On the other hand, a law to help secure such a work, might require the thief to pay a large fine and to keep quiet or pay an even larger fine or do jail time. This law would not negatively affect anyone else that might come to similar conclusions (idea or work).

                      Fitch mentions the difference between rights and privileges (but go to wikipedia for more). Additionally, the Constitution cannot protect or refer to something that does not exist yet. How can it refer to a monopoly that is not a part of law? You can’t have a monopoly at that point except to the extent (as an exclusive right) you keep the information secret from others. Remember that the Constitution came as a guide preceeding all laws of the newly formed nation. That section of Article I is intended to mark the areas where Congress will task itself with creating an extra set of laws to apply over the whole nation (beyond the existing locale dependent law that likely never stopped applying).

                      Was there common law copyright?

                      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_law_copyright :

                      >> Common law copyright is the legal doctrine which contends that copyright is a natural right and creators are therefore entitled to the same protections anyone would be in regard to tangible and real property.

                      >> The doctrine was repudiated by the courts in the United Kingdom (Donaldson v. Beckett, 1784) and the United States (Wheaton v. Peters, 1834). In both countries, the courts found that copyright is a limited right created by the legislature under statutes and subject to the conditions and terms the legislature sees fit to impose.

                      Hence, the Constitution did not ask for monopolies for intellectual properties. That was done by Congress later on. Unfortunately, while monopolies do offer one way to secure exclusive rights (eg, by suing for injunction, which interferes with others’ liberties, whether guilty of any crime (like actual theft) or innocent), they can very easily end up not promoting the progress of science and useful arts, at least they don’t generally promote for the software field and for many others (not to mention how horrible is the USPTO implementation of it). The worst effect of these monopolies IMO being the extreme length of copyright duration; almost the very concept of idea monopolies (patents), but in particular for what amounts to a very long time in many cases (20 long years) and for what can be gamed to give credit to the wrong person and over too wide an area; and that “derivative works” in copyright law is frequently used much as a narrow patent would be used: to block clearly distinct works that simply leverage ideas from the original.

                      Note, that exclusive rights can be secured in a number of ways. We should have picked a way where progress was promoted. Fortunately, despite many problems with copyright and patent law, it is usually not enforced maximally. This partial enforcement is what keeps most people from complaining too loudly. The negatives aren’t always clear to most not directly affected.

                      Fortunately, the current SCOTUS appears more than just a little bit willing to rule laws unconstitutional or at least constrain them. I have hope the right thing will be done eventually wrt to the (unconstitutional) software patent system.

                      [Disclaimer: the above is my interpretation. Crosbie Fitch appears to have looked into this much more than I have. I may not be representing accurately what he wrote, and (it goes without saying) I may not be correct.]

          • Jose_X says:

            Les wants us to believe that Einstein’s creation was him working under the context of society 5000 years ago, rather than him having the fortune to leverage a significant amount of “recent” mathematics and physics. Einstein leveraged key experimental results that came about just years before his Special Theory. Einstein corresponded and studied with peers. Einstein was even a patent examiner, exposed to many interesting ideas, and, further, he did not feel he needed a patent in order to move forward. Others that made contributions very value to Einstein at that time also did not need patents. And we are talking about work and solutions that is considered much more difficult than what is found in most patents. Who are the people getting the Nobel Prizes?

            What does the Constitution say? http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk/index.php?id=177 . The Constitution does not mandate monopolies, not even in the rare event that the particular 20 year patent were to promote the progress (an essential criteria being ignored by government despite studies and “common” sense).

            Why patent instead of trade secret? Sometimes people do both. A software patent has very few details, for example, and closed source software is notoriously easy to leverage to foil interoperability and hence competition. Companies that build software and use software patents frequently also use trade secret. The patents don’t reveal anything of real value. In fact, the software patents are very broad and the descriptions can be of a very inferior implementation (and likely is). Other times, a patent gives you much more power than would a trade secret that would be reversed engineered decently in shorter time.

            Amazon’s patent are useful for protectionist reasons. To gouge consumers, they would need a monopoly or something similar. Businesses at the top already don’t like to budge from there or accept competition. What big time capitalist and shareholder doesn’t want society to be gouged and depleted for their sake? Patents are potentially a free ticket, but in any case, they raise the bar significantly and perhaps allow a guaranteed revenue stream. Microsoft has been notoriously successful at eliminating competition (trade secret and copyrights helped them a lot). Monopolists can charge many times a higher price (eg, most general purpose (not customized) software should legally be near zero dollars if competition could flourish there). Remove patents and copyright and watch software go to near zero while people continue to develop it and support it (eg, customize it or build their own new interesting systems using source code).

            I don’t think there is too much that is revolutionary. Have the discoverer live in a world 20 years earlier, and they would not make the invention in almost all cases of “breakthroughs”, never mind for the typical patent. Patents represent that to first approximation: an unreasonable loss of 20 years, but compounded because the dependent breakthroughs get pushed back ad infinitum. Most advances happen with numerous individuals contributing. It’s usually a matter of one of them bumping up against the solution near the same time period. Yes, even 10 heads or 2 are better than one, and after the “breakthrough”, we find 100 heads or more can join in soon thereafter. For software, where you have so many participants already and such a low cost to participate, the patent situation is that much worse.

            I’m surprised we have gone so long without software patents being $0 and implicit. Copyright is that way. Today’s patenting discriminates significantly against most individuals in industries where many individuals participate. It’s about time that the many ideas and developments of the FOSS community got the patent protection and leverage they deserved (in order to be fair). Open patenting would trounce any company out there that dared attack.. but patents are so expensive!

            Patents were not designed to be used against people or businesses at large. If patents were to stay in some capacity, it should likely remain a fight among the giants that are able to really exploit the little guys or smaller firm (or small suing large).

            Question: aren’t these pharm companies that get many patents reusing their facilities, equipment, expertise, past dead-ends (leverage knowledge from mistakes), business intelligence and various other knowledge assets, existing financial access and proven past (which lowers cost of new capital), brand, cost savings from having a team assembled already and running at full cylinders, etc, for each of the other past patents they got? Yes, they are. Assuming it took 20 years of monopoly to recoup costs for the first patent, each new patent’s marginal costs now approach a very low value. For the case of where the government mandates lab testing and other costs, all the gov has to do is to refund this money in tax credits and perhaps even give them more, or the government could watch the market and remove the patent subsidy after a certain point way before 20 years once certain profits were made. Also, in some areas, have the patent instead represent a royalty off other for-profit company’s profits or even sales revenues. We can even make the monopoly for pharm last say 3 years after the product is first distributed. In fact, in industries where patents don’t do too much damage (I’m being a realist that they won’t go away totally), give no more than 3 years to add-on patents when a group exploits a patent already (and limit the size of the initial patent).

            OK, better is to avoid the monopolies. An Inventors’ Tax can be decided in value by the very industry, with votes also from consumers. The tax proceeds get distributed to inventors that apply and meet the requirements. Royalty stream access lasts for a few years after the product first hits market. The tax on a product gets distributed among all inventors that qualify. We taylor the details per industry and maybe even per product class. This avoids the troll problem and most of the chilling effects and protectionism, even in cases where the large companies already cross-license significantly. Were software ever to be included in this, open source, by virtue of its contribution to society (and lack of lock-in/trade secret leverage), would get a fair amount of exclusion whenever sold. Freebie software, closed or open, can avoid the Inventors’ Tax if it comes no string attached; otherwise, the addon requirements )products or services) are partly taxed based on some accounting guidelines. We would only tax software once. The applicant’s claims would specify which versions/features/software apply. Vendors selling software would register their software for easy look-up.

    • Jose_X says:

      >> Stop whining and write some NEW code.

      And when the Bilski case is lost, we can add,

      “Stop spending $50K to bribe the government to tie down the big bad vewy scawy college undergrads who could derive the same solution in weeks if not days.”

      “Oooh, eventually these will get a job and compete with me! Oooh, oooh, I am so so scawed! Keep evewyone away for 20 yeaws. The govewment said I was innovative.”

      The sad part is that a program probably did exist. One just had to fill in the parameters “sexuality, cats, affection, Jane’s, Joe’s” to get the answer.

      Maybe next time they will actually try “inventing” some new math. Ooops, that’s actually hard to do.. and it doesn’t come with a big government subsidy to keep other big bad mathematicians away for 20 years. If you can’t handle the heat of academia, I guess you go play patent patty cakes with big Uncle Sam.

      Seriously, I did not realize it took a risky 1 billion USD investment and Beyond Beethoven Brains to enter “eval scawy_undewgwad_pwogwam(sexuality, cats, affection, Jane’s, Joe’s)” on a computer.

      For the sensible out there, sorry if I exaggerated a little and mocked a little too much. The point is in there somewhere.

  • Niels Serup says:

    While I have yet to watch it, I just wanted to point out that the HD version is now available at OneBigTorrent at https://onebigtorrent.org/torrents/8946/Patent-Absurdity-how-software-patents-broke-the-system-HD

    Looking forward to watching it.

  • fastsloth says:

    Hi, if possible I would like to share this film whit a forum school, when are available the subtitles in Italian ?
    Thanks,

    Luca.

    • Ciaran says:

      Subtitles will probably take a week or more.

      …and we might need your help :-)

      Here’s where we’re coordinating:
      http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Patently_Absurd/Subtitles

      The first step is to get the English written down, then find translators for each language (that’s where you might help), and then find people with the time and knowledge to put the subtitles into the film. I think we have someone who can help with the last step, but I can’t make promises about when exactly they’ll be available.

  • tom says:

    Very interesting and well done documentary. It makes a solid case against the increasingly damaging practice of patents. As our debt-based monetary system is crippling global economy, patents appear every day more and more irrelevant to what society really needs: cooperation. Keep up the good work and let’s spread the word. Thanks FSF!

  • Fernando says:

    It would be nice if you could provide subtitles in English. Then anyone could translate them to another language and thus help people who don’t speak english to better understand the film.

    • tariq says:

      Yes! Please do provide subtitles in English then it will be easy to translate for non-professional translator’s like us. Thanks!

  • Jose_X says:

    No matter how undeserving of a 20 (or even 1) year monopoly something is — no matter how undeserving — someone is going to be the first to state it publicly. If a patent lawyer gets to that person quickly enough and convinces them to patent it, then we must all suffer the roadblock, potentially a very wide-reaching roadblock, as the patent claims get broadened way beyond the initial intentions or imagination of that “inventor”.

    Anything not “obvious” to a typical practitioner — that is, anything that an average practitioner cannot deduce in say minutes or hours — will set us all back 20 long years. And it doesn’t matter if that “invention” (or observation) is the most natural and efficient way forward. Further development (and fruition of existing works not yet finished and falling under the broad umbralla) is made illegal upon the whims of that inventor.

    Progress was surely promoted! All our liberties were surely abridged for excellent reasons! Where would we be were it not for 20 year monopolies like this one!

    • Les says:

      Yes,patents encourage development. If you’re not first, you loose.

      So, spend less time posting whiny blog messages and go finish a project.

      • mgillen says:

        They encourage development at first, and then they slow it down. Once there is a thicket of patents such that it isn’t possible to know if you’re infringing, developing something new becomes a game of dodgeball.

        I would love to finish a project and sell it. But I’m afraid I will almost certainly be sued for patent infringement if I make any money off my application. Whether it’s a valid case or not, legal fees from defending myself would likely bleed me dry.

        • Les says:

          Bleed you dry? Just pay the royalty. Patent suits are just as expensive for the plaintiff as they are for the defendant. No one wants to go to court. If you infringe someones patent…do the right thing. Pay them.

          • Debasish says:

            You don’t get the point, the languages used in the patents are not precise. Which means, say for example, I discover spoon and patent it, that would also exclude you from inventing a crane that almost looks like a spoon (But is much bigger and used to convey molten steel).

            • les says:

              It might exclude your from copying the spoon shape in the scoop without paying a royalty.

              But it would not stop you from inventing a crane, which has many other parts that are not obvious in light of the spoon.

              If the spoon is inconsequential and not worthy of a patent, then you can easily use some other shape for your scoop and avoid paying the royalty.

              If the patent says spoons can be made any size to apply to any kind of scooping job, then clearly the inventor invented your crane scoop…..

              Of course the language used in patents is broad. A Precise claim is easily worked around and therefore worthless.

              • Jose_X says:

                Despite everything that was stated in the film, elsewhere on this and other web sites, and among the other comments here, thanks for sharing a few ways of just how broken is the motivation and implementation of the US patent system.

                The well-educated and creative folks leaving college are entering a perverted world where they will not be allowed to work on and share many many many things they consider easy because before they are finished some leech will eventually write up a patent application broadly covering the basic aspects of those works and get a patent for it.

                The US patent system is enabling leeches and large multinational corporations to rob society while our governments hold us still.

      • Jose_X says:

        >> Yes,patents encourage development. If you’re not first, you loose.

        Development is not encouraged if all the work you do will be taken by someone else that did much less work and understands it not nearly as well as you do but wrote up slightly ahead of you a broad description that covers basic elements of you product.

        We are killing competition with patents. This leads to fewer people employed and consumers having to pay potentially much higher prices for less and of possibly much lower quality than would be possible.

        Long patent monopolies generally (but certainly with software) do not promote the progress of science and useful arts. This means they are not Constitutional.

        Obviously a few leeches will lean over others’ shoulders and “invent” a little faster if the prize is a 20 year monopoly.

        Open source developers are being “robbed” because their very many novel and nonobvious creations and descriptions are not being given patent protections. Why aren’t patents $0 and automatic? The patent system is very broken and apparently designed to allow the wealthy to short-change (“rape”) society and more clever inventors.

        Hey, I’d “love” to see a track competition where the competitor, of those with a qualifying run during the year, to first file the entry application gets 20 years’ worth of similar future races automatically handed to him/her. I’m sure such a system will really “encourage” development as well.

        Say, you can’t invent around everything, certainly not at a low cost. A round wheel is simply superior.

        >> So, spend less time posting whiny blog messages and go finish a project.

        I have news. Finishing projects doesn’t prevent leeches from patenting broad descriptions of those projects so that all my time ends up being wasted and I have little motivation to keep working for the next 20 years in that area where I made those investments already.

        It’s about time patents be made $0 and automatic. Open source developers are being damaged, especially once they want to leverage into a business the software and software blueprints they helped contribute to society. (Ie, software with all associated novel and nonobvious inventions)

        Even should software patents ever become clear law, not giving open source safe harbor would be a great loss at least to (a) the freedoms of expression and personal liberties of a great many people; (b) the wealth of society; and (c) the tools and accessibility (extensive $0 blueprints) of the software inventing community.

        Monopolies on ideas (esp software products) stifle all the more because of the Internet’s collaboration enhancements and how many hand-cuffed inventors would otherwise participate when the bar is so low and research, copy-leverage, manufacture, distribute, etc, are otherwise so inexpensive and fluid.

      • PrometheeFeu says:

        “Yes,patents encourage development. If you’re not first, you loose.”

        That is just plain inaccurate. How about looking at the most famous example of a patented invention? Edison invented the light-bulb? No. He tinkered with it a little bit making it commercially viable and then patented it. If the guy who developed the previous iteration had patented is “invention,” Edison would have been highly unlikely to develop the light-bulb until the end of that patent and everyone would have still been in the dark. Ultimately, patents are of use solely to a few individuals (only sometimes also) and hinder progress for the rest of humanity.

        • Les says:

          If light bulbs were known prior to Edison’s, then Edison’s patent could not have covered all light bulb. People would have still been free to make the earlier style bulbs. Furthermore, they would have been able to “tinker” with the design in some other direction.

          Your assertions make absolutely no sense. Edison DID get patents for the lightbulb. No one was kept in the dark. Why on earth would your previous inventor keep everyone in the dark? Your previous inventor would have worked like hell to get people to switch from oil lamps to electric lights, just like Edison did.

  • spiralofhope says:

    Not a bad film. There are parts of it which seem clearly amateur to me, especially with some interviews. However it has a characteristic hacker flavour to it which I really enjoy.

    It’s very American-centric, but software patents are an international and humanitarian concern. It only informs but does not motivate. It even feels a bit out of date because it brings up specific current actions, which demoralizes the audience from participating. There was some good mention of long-term importance, but I think much stronger emphasis could be on the very long term “human race” problem of software patents. Clearer instructions (within the film itself) on how the audience can help is really needed to give it a complete feel.

    The relation between music and software patenting is gold, and I especially loved the way the final piece of music was done. Genius. That point will stick with everyone. I wish it were presented right at the beginning, it would have set the mood for the whole piece.

    All in all, decent. More of this sort of thing should be produced, even if it’s limited interviews (more Stallman!) or lower quality web-quality clips taken internationally.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t get it properly playing in HD using mplayer (smplayer) because there was some odd freezing of the picture. vlc played it just fine.

    • mgillen says:

      I actually would have liked to see the film make more emphasis on how a patent system that retards innovation and puts a ‘tax’ on all commercial software development in the US hurts the international competitiveness of American workers and firms. THAT is an argument that congressmen can understand, and might be convinced to act upon.

      I think there are several perfectly valid self-serving (for America as a whole) arguments for a vastly more restricted patent system (which as you say is, in its current form, a blight on all humanity to the extent that the US is able to inflict its system on other countries via trade-agreement pressures, etc). The first I already made regarding our international competitiveness for people who actually make things.

      Another aspect to that is how much of our country’s brainpower is dedicated to innovating and building versus arguing over who “owns” certain techniques. Lets assume the (large) body of patent lawyers are smart people. Is it really best for the country for all these smart people to not be trying to build and invent new things that we might be able to export to other countries, but rather have them spend all their time bending our own legal system (for which, at the end of the day, little tangible value results)?

      The legal system is a prison of our own devise, and if it starts to become too cumbersome, there are very tangible effects on productivity for a broad swath of workers in this country (not just people who invent things, but people whose efficiency would be helped by new inventions, etc on down the line).

      • Les says:

        “The legal system is a prison of our own devise,”

        Welcome to the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like. But, you can never leave. Bwaaaa haaaaa haa

  • spiralofhope says:

    (re-trying to post, hope I don’t double-post..)

    Not a bad film. There are parts of it which seem clearly amateur to me, especially with some interviews. However it has a characteristic hacker flavour to it which I really enjoy.

    It’s very American-centric, but software patents are an international and humanitarian concern. It only informs but does not motivate. It even feels a bit out of date because it brings up specific current actions, which demoralizes the audience from participating. There was some good mention of long-term importance, but I think much stronger emphasis could be on the very long term “human race” problem of software patents. Clearer instructions (within the film itself) on how the audience can help is really needed to give it a complete feel.

    The relation between music and software patenting is gold, and I especially loved the way the final piece of music was done. Genius. That point will stick with everyone. I wish it were presented right at the beginning, it would have set the mood for the whole piece.

    All in all, decent. More of this sort of thing should be produced, even if it’s limited interviews (more Stallman!) or lower quality web-quality clips taken internationally.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t get it properly playing in HD using mplayer (smplayer) because there was some odd freezing of the picture. vlc played it just fine.

  • Luke Dunstan says:

    I had trouble playing the embedded video on Google Chrome on Linux, so I downloaded it. It is good but I find the audio volume to be much too quiet, and the volume is not consistent throughout the video either.

  • Tom says:

    While I can understand the desire to only use the open codec Theora, the video is not playable on a 3.0 firefox on Ubuntu 9.04, not playable in the latest version of Safari, and the video and audio are not even close to synchronized in Google Chrome on Snow Leopard. I don’t have a Windows system so I can’t try that. If the video is as good as the comments seem to say (since I haven’t seen it), this is something you *want* everyone to see. I have a strong feeling that those that really *need* to see this video will never view it.

    • Karl says:

      You can also download and play the video with many off-line programs too. I also noticed that Firefox did a better job with Ogg Theora than Chrome on Ubuntu 9.10. You may not want to stream the video, yesterday the archive.org mirror was very busy. I could only get 40 KiB/s compared to my normal 800 KiB/s.

      Ubuntu does have Firefox 3.5 somewhere in the 9.04 universe repositories. I think this is it:
      http://packages.ubuntu.com/jaunty/firefox-3.5

      You could also try and find the package in synaptic, thats what I did.

  • Panu says:

    I hope the english subtitles will be finished soon, so that I can translate them to finnish. (The wiki page for english subtitles still has a few ‘?’ signs indicating the need for review).

  • Dan Stromberg says:

    I found the content very interesting. Thank you for creating and publishing this movie in a form that could be freely downloaded.

    However, I found the encoding more than a little bit lacking. mplayer, VLC and xine all had playback problems with it. Of these, mplayer seemed to do the best, but about 4 times during the movie, the video would simply freeze for a minute or so while the audio continued.

    Perhaps it could be encoded using a better pair of codecs – maybe even in a matroska container so the subtitles could be included directly?

  • none says:

    There is a tool that simplifies the creation of subtitles called “Jubler” that people can use to translate the video.
    It’s for Mac or Windows, open source, on SourceForge… You should include this link up in your post if you want people to translate, since most won’t read through 30 comments to get to it.

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/jubler/

  • Warlordfff says:

    Very interesting film indeed,Congratulations to the creator.
    I downloaded the Full HD and in some point it freezes for 2-5 seconds,is there something I can do about it?
    I would like to contribute by creating Greek subtitles so that I can easily make a public Screening at Greeklug and make possible for other people in my country to watch it.I’ ll start working as soon a I put a team together and I’ll post it at the wiki when is done.

  • Abhishek says:

    Hi,

    An excellent case in point for FOSS. Loved the movie and would spread it to as many as I can.

    Thanks,
    Abhishek

  • MS. Vishwa says:

    ITS AN EYE OPENER.
    GREAT WORK GUYS.
    I WONDER IF MY OFFICE GUYS WOULD BE FINE WITH PLAYING THIS IN THE OFFICE.

  • tor says:

    I don’t think either patent laws or copyright laws are doing what they were supposed to do: encourage inventors to share their ideas and creations with the public. I hate to see tax money spent on law enforcers that must hunt down people who violate the ‘rights’ to various creations, and court systems that organize fights to determine who owns these ‘rights’. I’d love to see tax money paid out to reward people who freely give their ideas to the public.

    • tom says:

      Hi Tor,

      I agree that the government should not spend taxpayer’s money to hunt down infringers. They do this for copyrights only, not for patents or trademarks. Ask Disney why.

      As for sharing ideas, that is what patents are all about. Someone here mentioned that eHarmony could have made as much money by keeping their algorithm secret. They could have and it would still be secret today and years from now. By patenting the algorithm, the would now knows it, can improve upon it, can get a license to use it and in a few years the patent will expire and it will be public domain.

      If it were kept a trade secret, it would still be a secret.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  • Zev Benjamin says:

    There are some significant problems with the video encoding. Mplayer (and I understand vlc) both have significant trouble playing the video correctly. The video freezes for much longer than it should during the still frames, which causes the audio and video to become very desynchronized. Seeking forward and then backwards sometimes helps, but in places the video player is very confused by the stream and seeks way too much.

    Overall, trying to watch the video was a very frustrating experience. I think that the difficulty people will have watching it as a result of the poor encoding will hurt its message significantly.

  • Amy says:

    Very interesting film indeed,Congratulations to the creator.
    I downloaded the Full HD and in some point it freezes for 2-5 seconds,is there something I can do about it?
    I would like to contribute by creating Greek subtitles so that I can easily make a public Screening at Greeklug and make possible for other people in my country to watch it.I’ ll start working as soon a I put a team together and I’ll post it at the wiki when is done.

  • Ben in Seattle says:

    1) I have to agree with Zev Benjamin, the encoding of the movie must be fixed immediately. I was thinking about having a movie watching party and downloaded the HD version. Neither Mplayer-SVN-r29142-4.4.3 nor VLC-1.0.5 can play it correctly, though VLC fails less badly than Mplayer; the video keeps getting stuck on the slides. [While you're reencoding, consider putting it in a Matroska wrapper so that subtitles from many different languages can all be in the same file.]

    2) The audio needs to be companded so that the soft parts are audible and the volume level normalized. This is easy to do using sox (which is Free Software). The volume level is so low right now that I found myself wishing for subtitles in English.

    3) Somebody with good video editing skills should remix this into a 30-second version and a three minute version. We need something punchy, like the great ads Creative Commons had when it was new.

    4) The 1960′s-looking borderless white text is retro, but there’s a reason it went out of style: readability. I’m not asking for a flashy 3-D animation, but it would have been nice if the text at least had a black outline or shadow.

    I find it discouraging that I have the technical ability to do these changes, but I am not legally allowed to. I realize you have good reasons for choosing CC BY-ND, but allowing other people to edit the video is only going to make it better. Please consider changing the license to CC BY-SA (to ALLOW DERIVATIVE WORKS) so that other people can easily help.

    Also consider that years from now, when you guys aren’t around to send changes to, the people who have picked up the banner from you will be able to use this movie if you change the license now. It is not so farfetched that swpat.org will someday cease to be; I still have my T-shirt from the League for Programming Freedom which was doing this same work long ago and has now disappeared. (The logo is the statue of liberty holding a 9-track tape and an 8-inch floppy disk!)

    Thanks,

    –Ben

    • Jose_X says:

      I agree that we should all try to use share-alike licenses.

      For every use of the video for goals not liked, many more will improve it and spread the message further (eg, if clips could be taken).

      There are laws against misrepresentation and plagiarism.

      Additionally, usually all copies that add very little tend to simply grow the value of the original and help market it. After all, most of the logic lies on the side against software patents. We aren’t hiding anything.

      If people want to abuse, they already have fair use (and will abuse that). Do we want to only allow those that are critical (or want to spoof) to likely draw attention to this? That is like allowing the crackers to keep creating malware without the good guys having sufficient legal access to help tilt the balance.

      And anyone that takes CC-BY-SA for nefarious uses is at least helping to spread the CC-BY-SA message: a worthwhile message not heard enough out there.

      BTW, ideally there would be more source code included. This would be particularly attractive if FOSS was used. Are there .blender (;-)) or .svg or .xcf (eg, preserving layers) or …. Having source is not as important with these types of works, but it helps lower the bar to contributions and helps promote various FOSS apps. Where there scripts that process all the frames?

      Where is the Linux LiveCD?

  • Ismail Fal says:

    Thanks. I learned that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals was established in 1982. Peace

  • Mike says:

    Great documentary. I found audio level too low and uneven. I would like to have the same movie on a standard DVD so I can give it out to my friends, and/or play in a standard DVD player (at friends gathering places, for example).

  • Actually, I never did understand the patent system at all, not only for software but for everything else too.

    ps: Fix the video. I also vote for making it in mkv packed with lots of subtitles.

  • Max says:

    Please publish a Version viewable on the iPad!

    • Multics says:

      I guess, you´ll have trouble finding a device that contains more trivial patents than an iPad. ;-)

      Multics.

    • Mike says:

      Take a look at , try to rethink your position, and share the results with us.

    • Karl says:

      Does the ipad not support Ogg Theora video? Don’t they have an app for everything? I mean, even the web browser Firefox 3.5 and up has Ogg Theora support built in. My cheap little mp3 player even has Ogg support (for audio).

      Anyway, you may just want to convert the video to a compatible format for the ipad. Ogg Theora is an open format, so there is much less uncertainty than using the patented mpeg or h.264.

      I hope you figure out a solution.

  • Mike says:

    Take a look at http://www.defectivebydesign.org/apple , try to rethink your position and share the results with us.

  • Anon says:

    Hi, is there something wrong with the encoding?

    MPlayer SVN-r29142-4.4.3 (C) 2000-2009 MPlayer Team

    VLC media player 1.0.5 Goldeneye
    Compiled by rt@debian-build.int-office-er.priv

    Both have severe problems playing the HD version video. The picture freezes repeatedly. Anything I could do?

    • Karl says:

      Try the HQ version instead. I had problems with the HD version too. It looks like it was a rendering error or something similar.

      • Anon says:

        This don’t help: Still suffering the same problems.

        Regarding the fact that I don’t seem to be the only one to observe these problems, I’d appreciate the filmmakers to react on this issue in some way.

        I still haven’t seen the vido, and I won’t recommend it to others, because they’ll certainly say: “See that shitty Free Software encoding? Apple just works!”

        • +1

          Unable to see any versions of the movie correctly on my Linux box (neither mplayer, vlc or ffplay are able to render the movie correctly).

          I still haven’t seen the video either : I was not able to watch the movie at all (freezes appears after less than 60s) :-(

          This is really a bad ad for Theora, and free software in general, if it stays that way more any longer. Authors should really fixed that encoding quickly.

          This is URGENT.

          • Karl says:

            Try starting mplayer or vlc from a terminal, then see if they spit out any error messages or debugging information. I used VLC 1.0.2 without any trouble, but I do know that the latest [unfinished] development version from their git server has broken Theora support. I did try it.

        • Karl says:

          What, really? It doesn’t matter what version you try and play, you still have playback problems? Do you have an older computer? I played the HQ version and the version in the web page. I had no trouble. Audio was unleveled though.

  • Martin says:

    You could watch the ones with lower resolutions :) I have the same problem as you, and I think it’s something to do with the encoding rather than your choice of players (although I feel that Totem play ogv the best out of the three). I had no problems with the high quality version. It’s not really a film that benefits all that much from HD anyway :)

  • tom says:

    I felt sorry for the math professor. He was obviously nervous about being patented out of a job. The music analogy is not only disingenuous, it ignores the real threat to music innovation, i.e. copyrights. If, as the uninformed, though probably well meaning, music guy imagined that in the 17th century certain musical ideas were patented, then by 1800 those patents would long have been expired, but not the copyrights!

    Another annoying aspect of the diatribe was lumping all software patents together. This is pure sophistry. Everyone will agree that some software patents are bad but others are just as legitimate as any machine patent. One of my favorite inventors once told me that the only difference between hardware and software is bandwidth. If some anti-patent EEs will think about it a little harder, they might get it, at least for some software. I can’t believe that anyone will not agree that VisiCalc deserved a patent lasting 17 years. It was a revolutionary idea!

    The arguments that patents do not promote innovation are interesting but are not supported by any evidence, only the conjecture of a few people being interviewed. If the filmmakers really want to destroy the patent system, they should try to get some hard evidence that patents do more harm than good.

    Other parts of the film were sadly naive, particularly the parts where people were hand wringing over how to interpret the scope of a patent and how to be sure that their creation does not infringe anyone else’s patent. These people probably consult a nutritionist or a chiropractor for special information. They should consult a patent attorney. Patents are complicated! They are about inventions! If inventions were easy to understand, we’d all be inventors.

    Also the woman worried about treble damages is sadly playing with less than a full deck. If she had done the research, she would have found that treble damages are hardly ever awarded.

    • Ben in Seattle says:

      Tom said: “I can’t believe that anyone will not agree that VisiCalc deserved a patent lasting 17 years. It was a revolutionary idea!”

      Interesting choice of example for software that deserves to be patented given that Dan Bricklin, the INVENTOR OF THE SPREADSHEET HIMSELF, disagrees with you. Watch the movie again, he’s in it.

      While you’re recovering from your disbelief, please consider this: Imagine a world where VisiCalc *had* been patented. We wouldn’t have had Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro, or Excel. The pace of development would have been slowed as people wasted time time not only reinventing the wheel, but having to reinvent wheels as squares so as to not infringe on the patent. Can you imagine having to write a program that does exactly what a spreadsheet does but is *NOT* a spreadsheet?

      Yes, if Dan Bricklin had patented Visi-Calc he would be a whole lot richer, but at what cost to society? The point of a patent is not to reward the inventor but to promote progress. (Again, don’t believe me? Ask the horse’s mouth: The US Constitution.)

      As for the triple damages for knowingly infringing on a patent, as a software developer I was actually explicitly warned *NOT* to look up software patents for exactly that reason. Whether or not triple damages are rarely awarded is irrelevant; the threat of them has already had a chilling effect on progress.

      Tom also said, “Sadly naive… hand wringing… scope of a patent… chiropractor… They should consult a patent attorney.”

      Tom, I’m so flabbergasted that I’m beginning to wonder if you’re trolling for flames. The people who are against software patents are not stupid, so please drop the ad hominem attacks. Eben Moglen, to take just one example, *is* a lawyer, not a nutritionist or a chiropractor.

      Intelligence aside, do you actually think an attorney would have said, “All e-commerce is patented because some guy got a vaguely worded patent on a machine that can copy music onto tapes at a record store.” No. Nobody thought that, because it clearly didn’t. And all the patent attorneys were wrong when the scope of the patent changed.

      Tom further said, “Patents are complicated! They are about inventions! If inventions were easy to understand, we’d all be inventors.”

      Actually, many inventions are quite easy to understand once a genius has figured it out. For example, the electric lightbulb is a “duh” concept nowadays. Heat up a filament in a vacuum and it glows. Duh. On the other hand, software patents are complicated even when their “inventions” didn’t take much perspiration, such as Amazon’s “One-Click” patent. This is intentional because a vaguely worded patent has a larger scope than a tightly worded one.

      The one thing I agree with you on is that people should hire patent attorneys. But that’s a necessity, not a solution. The solution is to ban any algorithm from being patentable.

      –Ben

      • les says:

        “Yes, if Dan Bricklin had patented Visi-Calc he would be a whole lot richer, but at what cost to society? The point of a patent is not to reward the inventor but to promote progress. (Again, don’t believe me? Ask the horse’s mouth: The US Constitution.)”

        Perhaps at no cost, but at a benefit. If everything you say about the history of spread sheet programs is correct and if Visi-Calc had been patented in some way that prevented Excel and the others from being offered, then perhaps the world would have standardized on Visi-Calc and there would have been huge efficiencies and interoperability advantages far earlier …. and the recent banking crisis could have been avoided because everyone could see from there visi-calc program that bad mortgages were being sliced and dices and resold.

        • Karl says:

          “Perhaps at no cost, but at a benefit. If everything you say about the history of spread sheet programs is correct and if Visi-Calc had been patented in some way that prevented Excel and the others from being offered, then perhaps the world would have standardized on Visi-Calc and there would have been huge efficiencies and interoperability advantages far earlier …. and the recent banking crisis could have been avoided because everyone could see from there visi-calc program that bad mortgages were being sliced and dices and resold.”

          I don’t think a spreadsheet program could have stopped the banking crisis. Stop being unrealistic. Do keep in mind that using an open standard for file formats will allow person A to send a document made with program X to person B who can open and read it with program Y.

          In other words, open and non-patented file formats means much better interoperability.

          • Jose_X says:

            Karl, you forgot to add some things, for example, that with the monopoly in place and enforced, prices would have been higher, open source would not be allowed, and spreadsheet capabilities would advance more slowly if at all (why work hard on what will remain a fairly steady guaranteed income).

            Patent monopolies are intended to stifle competition. That is their design. Everyone but the patent holder has to wait up to 20 years to legally be able to implement improvements and extensions to the “invention”. This restriction applies even if you invent relatively independently and even ahead of the patent application submission but don’t publish the ideas or finished product early enough to have beat the submission.

            • Karl says:

              Jose_X, your right, I forgot to add those points. +1

              The idea that corporations have a foundation for practically banning software written by the public sounds like something that would be in George Orwell’s 1984.

              I also want to add that free libre and open source software is a great example of how innovation occurs without patenting everything. Look at the innovations taking place in the KDE desktop environment:

              + Tabbing entire applications them selfs in one window. (even if the application does not support it)
              + Fine tuned control for where a specific window or program should appear when opened
              + Powerful customization over the desktop. (You could get rid of the panel and have menu, clock, sys tray, window list, etc all floating everywhere if you wanted to)
              among many others.

              Now look at Microsoft’s Windows interface. Do they ever innovate like that? Not that I have ever seen.
              Microsoft has so many patents, where as the community working on KDE doesn’t. This is a real-world case where the patented system was inferior.

              I’m not sure if there are patents on QT (the libraries KDE uses), but as far as I know, the innovations in KDE are not patented.

              • Jose_X says:

                >> I also want to add that free libre and open source software is a great example of how innovation occurs without patenting everything. Look at the innovations taking place in the KDE desktop environment:

                Right, but it’s not just about calling out the large scale things we observe once they are built.

                All throughout the design and development process there are combinations of good ideas (and best practices) being put together. These are being patented as well and when enforced can lead to applications taking longer to advance further (depending on cases, this can demoralize developers not getting paid for their time) and frequently being less efficient (especially since patents are broad and some ideas are difficult to improve upon).

                As a hypothetical example, look at hashes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hash_table . They are used in many places because of the quick lookup times (these are antique concepts). “People” always know to consider hashes if they need certain requirements within their code, but other people will start looking for places where hashes may not have yet been used or where prior art is not likely to come to light (because we don’t see hashes when we look at a program’s behavior). No such use should ever be patented because many people will always realize independently such use is beneficial in some particular case. Most software patents don’t add anything that would not be discovered by many independently within a short time of each other (ie, as dictated by necessity), but even the few better ideas almost always become obvious to a few people even if the patent or one other contributor was not there. All it takes if one genius to be denied wrongly by a patent and we have gone from competition and perhaps an open source product to a possible monopoly or lever used to deny open source.

                Then there is the matter of the delay from concept (eg, patentable idea) to implementation (ie, prior art). Many developers are working on things today which will not show up in complete form for years. And many have many many ideas which they may eventually have time to work on, leading to actual products even further into the future.

                By the time we see the fruits, we already had the harvesting, planting, and design done. It would have been easy for someone with money (eg, backed by a large corporation) to have written up a broad description of these things before the fruits got to market.

                In fact, open source is done openly and not always in a formal manner so it is easy to use open source as a short-cut to ideas that have not yet been realized. This will become a bigger problem in the future as open source takes more of a lead (it has taken a while to catch up in various areas), yet will still be denied against the wishes of those that came up with the ideas but did not receive auto patents. They can block us with “their” ideas but we can’t threaten back with “ours” (eg, when an open source developer had an idea before it came out in Blackberry, MacOS, Windows, et, or in any patent)?

                Monopolies in a fast growing industry is not sustainable (the WMD/MAD analogy). Eventually, no one will be able to get anything done, unless they can manage the cost of patent lawsuits and threats and strike deals with others that also can (this biases against small innovators).

                Patents aren’t a fair way to reward. But if they stay (eg, lasting 2-5 years), then have open source be safe harbor and/or make the patents automatic and $0 (as is the case for copyright) so that the many poor contributors aren’t used as walking sticks by the patent leeches.

                Remember, if we judge by the standards of “nonobvious and novel” open source is generating this stuff daily all over the place. Any time a new combination is tried, potentially that is a patent on that combination that could be used to stop all similar future software development anywhere for 20 years (if that combo gets patented).

                • Karl says:

                  Jose_X, you make many very good and valid points. It outlines how a patent system, if not implemented correctly can cause massive damage.

                  The nature software improvement and development is so different than other types of patentable fields. I think it is a bad idea for software to be patentable at all.

                  “Patents aren’t a fair way to reward. But if they stay (eg, lasting 2-5 years), then have open source be safe harbor and/or make the patents automatic and $0 (as is the case for copyright) so that the many poor contributors aren’t used as walking sticks by the patent leeches.”

                  This would help make the system more fair, but I see some issues still not addressed.
                  I think it would be difficult to figure out who invented what and when if it were automatic, but if filing is required, many people will not be willing/able to go through the trouble of applying for a patent.
                  Making free libre and open source software immune to patent infringement would improve fairness and solve many of the issues software patents present. The problem with this solution is you can bet proprietary software vendors will call “foul-play”. I also can’t imagine law makers in the US implementing this correctly in a bill. I’m sure many of them don’t even know what open source is. While free libre and open source software can be used/made both commercially and non-commercially [the point of it is user freedom],
                  I still can’t see a real world example of how software patents actually worked to benefit everyone. It seems like patenting software has only disadvantaged society as a whole.

                  • Jose_X says:

                    Closed source vendors would call foul-play because patents are unfair, but open source vendors are doing much more than are the closed source vendors in terms of promoting the progress of science and useful arts and generally contributing to society.

                    The discussion about $0/auto patents is a “well, if we must settle for a broken system, at least fix this really broken part of it”.

                    I like mentioning this “obvious” unfairness because it helps highlight that patents were not intended to be used left and right against individuals and small groups. Software is very low cost and leverages many ideas within each product. That is not the model for which patent law was designed to address. The liabilities from patent monopolies are very large for software (as they would be for business method, literature, and other crazy patents people have been getting lately).

                    If everyone got a patent, then FOSS would have leverage against everyone else except perhaps some trolls. At that point, the very large and influential companies currently supporting patents would have no incentive to support it any longer because FOSS would now be the big player with lots of leverage and not them. Once IBM, Microsoft and others throw in the towel, the law would be much more likely to change to something sane.

                    As far as finding out what your implicit patent would be, that could be addressed with some effort, but a point is that you wouldn’t have to pay a lawyer oodles of dough to give you the broadest patent claim language possible.

                    How would this work? First, let’s look at a pattern that exists today.

                    People that today get patents sometimes can and do find that some work already fulfills most of their patent’s requirements. For example, you might add an improvement to a car. Most of the car already exists but you add a bit more “innovation”. [Ditto with software.] Any car that now adds that bit will infringe your patent.

                    Copying an existing invention or prior art and mixing it a little with something else that just came into the market is a way to get a quick patent that will likely apply in the future. “Wow, we had butler robots and we had automatic toasters, but who would have thought of putting the toaster on the robot to facilitate a breakfast robot!” Or even sleazier: add wifi capabilities to a robot. “Wow! I never would have thought of that once the two technologies became common! Oh, and have the robot communicate with a central instruction server using XML instead of binary instructions!!”

                    In fact, prior art is a joke in the (software) patent world. It is the rich stealing from the poor and from those less inclined to spend their lives writing up patent applications instead of coding and improving software.

                    Anyway, if you follow development of software, you know people will eventually find it quite normal to put combinations together. Many patents are based on existing things with not too much of a twist. This is one reason why people say that such and such just patented something that has been around for decades: because they simply extended it a bit to cover something from the current decade. They write up this patent before anyone else actually implements the two things together or beats them to the patent office.

                    Even more legit inventions are still extensions of existing things. The difference is that they add a few things to what might be recognized as prior art. However, the patent author frequently tries to patent many combinations leading from that prior art all the way up to the most complex version of the just patented invention. They generalize back by removing properties of the actual invention in order to get scope over anything that is at all an advancement from that prior art and takes a step in their direction (though the other inventions might deviate along the way, perhaps in a more efficient way, but would still infringe on the broad claims from this patent). [Sorry if I am not explaining this too well.]

                    OK, so the way implicits would work is that say you think prior art is A and your patent is A$$ (A plus two variations $ and $). Today, if A is prior art, you don’t have to worry about it; however, with implicit patents, if A was developed recently and would be believed (or assumed) to be innovative at that time, then essentially the inventor of A has an implicit patent and your patented A$$ invention infringes that implied A patent. The old way, you don’t infringe and you can go and harrass everyone. The new way, that other inventor (that would not file a patent) has a claim on everyone that violates A$$, including A$$ itself and even A$ and A$% and A*** and A$*##, etc, should these products come to exist at any point in time after A. The big change is that every single innovation is like a patent. All it takes is for someone to decide to enforce it on others.

                    [Note that if we later find out that some product A$ was created prior to the A we know about, then this A$ has an implicit patent on A as well, so the occurrence above of A would actually violate the earlier novel A$ (A$ implies A if A is also novel at that time; it's as if A and then A$ were created back-to-back along the path to A$).]

                    To keep things sane, there would be cut-off dates for filing infringements since otherwise we might find the ordering of implied patent precedence shifting as new people come out of the woodwork. Anyway, the same issue exists today, patents are assigned which overlap and where people don’t realize it until after lawsuits; however, with implicits we would have many more patents. Also, rather than the USPTO sorting through the mess at the time of an application, there would be “lazy evaluation” done by the public (ie, by anyone) of the orderings between the alleged public innovations. There would be more conflicts that would not be known immediately, but we could always figure out who came first.

                    Most people would not participate in lawsuits or any threats or know they have an implied claim unless they were themselves first threatened. And anyone threatening might make enough noise for others to step up and present claims against the person making the threats. It would become much riskier to threaten others because prior art would not just invalidate your patent but it would serve as a claim on you.

                    This is the point. If we give due credit to everyone, then we will find fewer troublemakers, or, alternatively, we would be likely to reach an industry destruction/impasse that much quicker since we would potentially have more people that would want to become trolls and would attack with little to lose.

                    We need to make the poor innovators have more than the whimpy “prior art”. The poor need to also be given “mean patents” they can use for defensive leverage and to keep leeches a little less leeching off society.

                    The net result will be a sobering realization of how unworkable it is to give monopolies to ideas when anyone can patent the ideas simply by stating them in public.

                    • Karl says:

                      Actually, you explained the first part very well. The second part was a little more difficult. Your solution is batter than one might think. What better way is there to realize the uselessness and unfairness of software patents than living in the endless problems they create? I mostly see proprietary software vendors and lawyers advocating the patentability of software, most only call foul-play as soon as it fails to favor them. Your points are very well made, I just hope the right people see them. What good will it do if the people reading your posts already advocate for no patents on software?

                      Either way, everyone is affected by software patents. It does not matter if you are a user, developer, or company. With computers being a part of everyones daily lives, software patents are going to affect you one way or another, and most always is the case that the affect will be undesired.

                    • Karl says:

                      Just wanted to clarify, when I said “Your solution is batter than one might think.”, “batter” was a typo. I meant to say “better”.

            • Les says:

              “Everyone but the patent holder has to wait up to 20 years to legally be able to implement improvements and extensions to the “invention”. ”

              That’s simply not true. Everyone else can do what ever is not covered by the claims. If nothing else, you can work on a word processor. When you get the patent for that, you can use it as leverage to get a cross license.

              OR, God Forbid, you could pay the SpreadSheet program inventor a Royalty for the privilege of using his invention.

              • Jose_X says:

                I think we mean the same thing, and it is true.

                If you fall within scope, and patents are extremely broad, then you can be prohibited from using the base invention. It doesn’t matter how many improvements you can add to it. As long as the new invention includes the few broad characteristics that defined the patented invention, you cannot proceed except with the blessing of the original patent holder. You agreed with this when you covered the spoon/crane example.

                Eg, a round wheel patent cannot be bypassed no matter what you add to the basic concept if your wheel is still round.

                As for paying royalties, patents can and are used with injunctive powers. And the thread of injunction gives that patent owner the ability to get a much larger cut than is reasonable based on the value of the idea (assuming the other party cared to pay for something they can come up with themselves).

                Patents are nowhere near $0 nor automatic (as is copyright), so many inventions will never get a patent to be usable as leverage.

          • Les says:

            “In other words, open and non-patented file formats means much better interoperability.”

            No, the best interoperability occurs when everyone is using the same program.

            There is always some information loss when others try to make their programs compatible with an original program. So, open standards lead to poor interoperability.

            • Karl says:

              “No, the best interoperability occurs when everyone is using the same program.

              There is always some information loss when others try to make their programs compatible with an original program. So, open standards lead to poor interoperability.”

              Actually, thats not true. If there is data loss, than the program that caused the data loss has a bug. I have saved things with open standards then opened and modified them with several different programs. I have never had any “information loss”.

              The only place I ever see broken interoperability is on patented proprietary systems like the ones Microsoft makes. It looks like your forgetting that patents were not intended to give one inventor a monopoly.

              Want an example? E-Mail is a good example, you can send messages between different hosts, as well as read and send messages with many different off-line and on-line clients. There is perfect interoperability. Also, look at the many image formats, I can edit and save in any program I want, no data loss. Well, other compressing the image too many times.

            • Jose_X says:

              Single app is the best interoperability in practice but only if the application works (ie, write and reads without bugs).

              But the problem should be obvious. How can be just have one application is each area, and worse when we have closed source monopolists that blend many data formats so as to cover many areas as one area? This is a very costly solution to society and would keep many great developers with great skill unemployed in many areas. It would also present a number of security and privacy issues (eg, like the ones we have today on Windows — and thank goodness for the competition by UNIX, Macs, Linux, and various device platforms).

              If we have to have just one application for everything, it is then by far better to ensure that application is open source. This way we can avoid monopoly rents and ensure anyone can work over this environment.

              In fact, with open source in general, interop failures across applications are passing bugs.

              And if we have a shared set of libraries for everyone, then we need to be able to inspect for security issues and serious flaws — again, open source would be the solution.

              OK, so let’s get realistic. More apps are going to exist, and the industry has come up with standards to address interoperability. It’s not perfect, especially in a fast moving area (and yes, bugs always exist, more likely when across apps), but it can be a reasonable compromise done to preserve competition and to help friendly competitors coordinate.

              Open source, the real solution, can be used in parallel with open standards. This is the best of all worlds.

          • les says:

            I was joking about the banking crisis.

            With regard to the other point. There would be no need to inter-operate if there was only one spreed sheet program. Standardization would be automatic. You said its a problem to have a patent spreed sheet because other programs cant inter operate. I said, so use the patented program.

            You want to benefit from the labor of the inventor of the patented program (its popularity), but you don’t want to pay the guy who invented it. If you want to inter-operate with his program, pay him.

            Otherwise, don’t inter-operate.

            • Jose_X says:

              Right.. a 20 year monopoly that is very unfair to everyone else and certainly would not promote the progress of science and useful arts.. I’m for it!!!!

              Another remarkable idea: we can institute a mandatory national lottery where 50% of people’s yearly income taxes go to buy tickets for that year’s drawing, and the winner gets all the trillions of dollars all to themselves!!

              I don’t see any reason why a law should be fair to individuals or to society!! [Ignoring the "welfare" and "promote" and "freedom" kinds of clauses in the Constitution, of course. Yes, we better ignore those!]

              I say, let’s allow 20 year monopolies on software features and applications and techniques and algorithms and anything else that can be expressed as a concept in English and is debatably not readily obvious to an average programmer.

              For example, maybe we can allow to be patented any feature that only the B+ and A students in a graduate computer science class would be likely to figure out during a one-hour examination. In other words, we should allow the professor, the teaching assistants, or any one of the B+ and A students (or anyone cheating on the exam) to rush out to the patent office with the application. The proof that the invention was not obvious will exist a few days later when all the exams are graded. Score! If the problem/solution ends up being useful anywhere at all in the next 20 years, the fast runner will have a cakewalk, perhaps to millions of dollars. Brilliant. The rest of the industry will be so happy “innovation” was rewarded. Everyone being sued will understand deep down that fast-running John Smith from the third row will deserve every penny, if… if dear Johnny happens to find it reasonable to allow society to move forward repeating that concept or feature combination, of course. [Oh, and Johnny was the rich one in the class. I forgot to mention that. The others lack of wealth IS a good reason for the discrimination against their ideas!!]

              But returning to sanity, even many A+++ very “unobvious” ideas will become known to numerous individuals before the 20 years are up (assuming the patent author was even the first with the idea). Why would we want to keep the competitors that also come up with the A+++ from competing so as to help keep prices down? Why do we even want to prevent the copying of the idea later on and the contribution of further refinements and extensions by A+ and A++ people?

              It is possible to recognize and reward good work without stopping others from leveraging (or rediscovering) it easily. We also always have trade secret status for those that like software monopolies and don’t want to share that particular bit. [Insult of insults is that patent leeches do take out both broad patents and keep the important details as trade secrets. Which leads to the next point.]

              And who are we kidding? Patent claims are generally no A+++ ideas because they are very frequently so horribly broad that it looks like the person simply had a dream about what would be neat and then wrote the patent application’s enforceable claims based on that dream. Weeks later, after some more thought, research and googling, and maybe asking questions to colleagues, the person managed to get a few more details ready for the application’s description and reference sections. Now they could submit. There is no real product here and the broad claims that define scope are like a dream idea that many will have or have already had, yet this person will be able to block others (or tax them heavily) despite these other products likely being developed without knowledge of the patent and/or to a much much higher degree of detail, with superior implementations, and integrated with many other ideas into full marketable and mostly polished software products.

              Let’s have a BIG lottery! I’m in the mood.

            • Karl says:

              “With regard to the other point. There would be no need to inter-operate if there was only one spreed sheet program. Standardization would be automatic. You said its a problem to have a patent spreed sheet because other programs cant inter operate. I said, so use the patented program.”

              There also [without competition] would be little reason for the developer of the patented program to further innovate his spreadsheet program as well as the issue that they could easily charge as much money as they wanted. No one would be able to do anything about skyrocketing prices.

              All throughout history civilizations copied, shared, and improved the culture, inventions, ideas, and technology of each other, as well as the civilizations before them. We have English today because there were no restrictions on using and modifying the then current languages.

              “You want to benefit from the labor of the inventor of the patented program (its popularity), but you don’t want to pay the guy who invented it. If you want to inter-operate with his program, pay him.”

              Your wrong again, I want to have more than one choice. If I don’t like what’s available, I should have the option to use something else. If there is nothing else available, then I should be able to make my own. It is because of this that innovation ever happens in the first place.

              When developers are competing for the most users, they try and make their programs better, often by creating innovations that the others don’t yet have. When users can have their data work with any program [by having interoperability] , they can freely move to any of the other choices, thus allowing competition to take place more rapidly. Program 1 gets a new innovation. Program 2 gets that innovation too, but makes it better or there will be less user attraction. Program 1 sees that its users are leaving, so it adds what program 2 did as well as a few more improvements. Users switch back to program 1 for the new advantages over program 2. Program 2, losing it users, adds a completely new innovation, and users flood back. Program 1 seeing this, takes this innovation [like program 2 did first] and improves it and implements it. Program 2 wanting its users back, uses these improvements but makes them better. It becomes a heated competition between the developers and there is rarely only two sides competing. And users don’t switch unless there is some benefit in doing so.

              The point here is with the two or more programmers/companies/projects/developers competing with each other, a very large amount of innovation happens. But, users must be able to easily jump between options. Program 2 may add support for the unique file format program 1 has and vice-versa. Both sides make the money/fame/donation they deserve and nothing more. Software patents slow down this competition, and thus slow down innovation.

              “If you want to inter-operate with his program, pay him.

              Otherwise, don’t inter-operate.”

              The programs that don’t have compatibility with others usually fade away. And if your program is not open to competition, then I would rather you not write it.

              Les, I am really starting to doubt you know very much about computer programming. It is much easier to innovate software than other things.

              • Les says:

                So, pay the royalty. You are using someone else’s invention. Pay him. If software development is so easy, why is it only possible to progress if you are allowed to steal the inventions of others?

                If the original is so bad that you want to write your own, then why do you want to copy it so badly. Start over and write your own.

                Don’t tell me the patent blocks you. If its so bad and you have a better way the better way is not covered by the patent.

                Show me an example of a patent that blocks you from doing the function a better way.

                • Karl says:

                  “So, pay the royalty. You are using someone else’s invention. Pay him. If software development is so easy, why is it only possible to progress if you are allowed to steal the inventions of others?”

                  Your forgetting that software innovation happens without patents. Your also forgetting that software inventions are so obvious that patenting them would be stealing from the public. Do you know that due to the very large number of software patents, it is impossible to know if your program is infringing on any patents. Even if you are creating a completely new type of program. When you write software, your building on the works of others prior to your’s (e.g. software language, compiler, libraries) its not just your invention in it’s entirety.

                  “If the original is so bad that you want to write your own, then why do you want to copy it so badly. Start over and write your own.”

                  You don’t seem to realize that making your own version of some program is not copying. Its starting over, then making innovations or changes that suit you better. The end result is never a knock off [unless you intended it to be]. It is not the same as copying. Software patents make it impossible to start over and write your own without “stealing”. Also, don’t shove words in my mouth. I didn’t say I wanted to copy it, I said if I didn’t like what was available, I would create my own and make it function how I wanted. The program would do the same task, just different. It is also wrong to say that I don’t have the right to make my program work with the data that I already have.

                  “Don’t tell me the patent blocks you. If its so bad and you have a better way the better way is not covered by the patent.”

                  I just did, because the patent DOES block you. Software patents are almost never specific, they are so stretched out that they cover even the “better way”. The point here is software patents cover enough of the program so you can’t [without infringing the patent(s)] make your own software and give innovations to the public.

                  “Show me an example of a patent that blocks you from doing the function a better way.”

                  Ok, you want an example? Here it is:

                  U.S. Patent number 6,243,373

                  Now, I have taken the time to read through the claims and I expect you to do the same. If you know anything about how this category of software works and know anything about how the Internet itself works, you will see that this patent blocks any and all competitors while still being an easy and obvious concept. If fact, many well known companies and people are likely infringing on this patent. I am also sure that said companies have no idea they are doing so. It would not be possible to make you own program in this software category due to this patent (Unless you infringed the patent, or paid the unreasonable royalty the patent holder wrongfully demands). This is a very good case where an “inventor” patents something that is obvious, or already known. Patenting an obvious invention is like stealing from each member of the public.

                  “If software development is so easy, why is it only possible to progress if you are allowed to steal the inventions of others?”
                  You missed the point again…
                  Software should not be patentable because it is not so hard and risky to innovate. You don’t risk everything to create software. For REAL software innovation to take place, people have to build on each other’s ideas. This is not “stealing”, this is progress for everyone, this is progress for society, this is progress for technology and civilization itself. Promoting software innovation instead of locking it up will have more benefits in time than you could receive in the present. Anyone stopping innovation by patenting software, then saying everyone else is stealing from them has a serious problem.

                  Now…
                  before posting about software patents again, make sure you have valid evidence to prove that software patents actually benefit society more than it hurts. Make sure you take into consideration the amount of innovation [that thing patents are supposed to promote] patents on software have created. Make sure you also take into consideration the innovations non-patented software have achieved. I don’t want to see a reply saying something along the lines of: “but, its stealing”

        • PrometheeFeu says:

          ” Visi-Calc had been patented in some way that prevented Excel and the others from being offered, then perhaps the world would have standardized on Visi-Calc”

          And Visi-Calc facing no competition whatsoever would have had no incentive at all to innovate in any way shape or form. Let’s throw out 20 years of innovation in spreadsheet software and see how your financial advisor is doing Les. Have worked in finance, I can tell you we’re pretty happy for that innovation.

  • tom says:

    The little guy wants free software so he doesn’t have to work so hard and can copy code that he needs. Microsoft doesn’t need patents to monopolize the industry. They would be happy to see patents disappear. When was the last time a big company like Microsoft put a little company out of business using a patent? When was the last time that an individual or small innovative company brought Microsoft to their knees for stealing their patented ideas?

    • Multics says:

      You are shokingly uninformed. MSFT is trying to sqeeze out money from people using Linux mainly by utilizing SW patents.

      SW patent hurt the _entire_ IT industrie. But they hurt small companies more than big ones. And they hurt F/OSS
      most.

      Multics.

    • Karl says:

      The little guy is trying to write his own software so he can be independent. Microsoft is trying to stop him from doing so. Have you ever seen source code? Did you know that there are many many different languages that source code can be in? Here is an example:

      http://archive.debian.org/debian/pool/main/w/wget/wget_1.9.1.orig.tar.gz

      Extract the archive, then view some of the source code. You may find it very confusing and complicated, but to a programmer its nothing new, its like a second language. I’m not a programmer, but I can still look at the code an get the basic idea for what its doing.

  • jeff says:

    On Ubuntu 9.10 and vlc 1.0.2 played the video of the HD but the audio was totally wrecked. Tried to use ffmpeg to convert to mp3 and play on my Tivo but the video was trashed. Totem 2.28.2 played the .ogv fine though.

  • tom says:

    it played fairly well on vlc for OSX but it did pause at chapter headings and some of the graphics went by too fast to read

  • SorenB says:

    Quite interesting, BUT you should put up a sign
    near the top of this page, sayng:

    “This page is best to be viewed on a resolution of 1440 x 900,
    with the minimum font size set to 8 points.
    Be sure that your grade of visual impairment is 0 % or less”.

    • Ciaran says:

      This page (the news item on news.swpat.org), or the patentabsurdity.com page?

      What display problems do you encounter?

  • titansteel says:

    Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  • Panu says:

    Someone should upload this to YouTube. I tried to slice it into 10min parts but that failed using mencoder.. Anyway, I think the maker of this documentary should contact YouTube to allow longer than 10min uploads and then upload it.

  • Vegas says:

    I have a few issues:

    1) It seems to me that many of the above statements are directed to the patent system as a whole, rather than to software patents. Note that the film was about SOFTWARE patents.

    2) Why do I not hear anyone make a distinction between “high-quality” (i.e. passes muster under 102, 103, and 112, i.e. the patented claim is novel, nonobvious, and includes a written description to allow others to carry it out), from “low-quality” ones (“it existed before” or “it isn’t new”… see above in countless posts). There is a difference! There is a distinction between an inventor patenting new, novel, nonobvious INVENTIONS and patents being granted on ideas or implementations that do not really satisfy these requirements. The quality problem is not unique to software patents. It applies to all of the groups. Why are you focused on software? Because YOU feel that YOU can write code, but don’t even entertain the notion of cooking up the newest Prozac in your backyard, or developing an optically based transistor in your high school electronics class. Slipped your mind, didn’t it. If the real issue is in patent quality, take up that cause. This one is misguided.

    3) The Beethoven argument is disingenuous and misleading at best. A poor attempt to play on emotion. First, we don’t allow patenting of musical works. In fact, copyright takes that and provides for life +70 years of protection (MUCH longer than what is available for patents, but you didn’t mention that. Why not?)! Second, it overlooks the fact that patents grant a LIMITED monopoly (20 years from the time of filing) such that each item that you point to in the last segment of the film would have been in the public domain and usable by the time Beethoven came around. Third, even assuming that music is patentable, which it is not!, this portrayal leaves open the question of whether Beethoven’s less well known contemporary Fred, should be allowed to record Beethoven’s great symphony on his pre-era iPod, and simply start playing it for everyone, telling them that it is his. Arguably, the battle would be one of publicity spending between Beethovan and Fred, rather than a patent battle — not likely any less expensive than a patent, or even a patent litigation. Just think, we could be referring to “Fred’s Symphony” rather than Beethoven’s. What? That’s different? How? Do you suggest that Fred would be OK to simply change Beethoven’s work slightly and then play it as his own? If so, how much should Fred be required to change Beethoven’s work before it isn’t Beethoven’s anymore?

    –It is a complicated and nuanced field. One that is full of a lot of questions and policy decisions that have yet to be made, and whose answers will continue to be reevaluated as technology progresses. This piece does a much better job of muddying the water than clearing it up.

    • Jose_X says:

      1) First, there is nothing wrong with pointing out what makes patents bad. To build a case, you want to add as much evidence as possible. The more evidence exists, the worse that category of patents is. Yes, patent reform is needed everywhere, but the damage is quite bad with software.

      Second, an issue that is so-so or a little bad when talking about multimillion dollar equipment and large companies can become much much worse when it affects a lot more people working at home on their computers. With software, generally: The liberties of many more are restricted. There is less of an excuse to claim a monopoly is needed as an incentive when clearly many many don’t need it (and even give the work away to each other for free). The opportunity costs for hand-cuffing all of these people is greater (so progress is not promoted that much more clearly). The loss of $0 open source software is a large steal from society’s wealth as well as from the pool of tools and material of other inventors. Etc. In short, the same effects that apply in other cases are multiplied in terms of costs to society. Not only might this multiplier effect be that much more damaging, but it can even make the difference between potentially promoting progress (if the liabilities are low) and definitely hindering progress (for high liabilities). Negative affects are multiplied because more people participate and collaborate with software and because everything is so much cheaper and can be built, distributed, retooled, etc, so much quicker.

      2) The issue of quality has been covered by many in comments above and was also covered in the film. Again, as one example, specifically because it affects so many participants and users directly, bad and broad software patents make the system that much more unbearable to society and to progress when the patents are bad. If we couldn’t do software at home for $0, then the loss to society and to individuals would be less (all else being equal).

      Software is very complex and advances very fast, so any 20 year block will likely affect many distinct pieces of software and truly hurt the rate of innovation.

      By the way, with regard to “good” (software) patents, even great ideas should not be patented except at most for a short time (maybe a patent for a Nobel Prize). If a great idea is patented, is it fair to the other 10 geniuses that could come up with that “brilliant” idea but now can’t work on it or improve it for 20 years? Is it fair to society to have the other 10 geniuses not being able to compete to lower prices and to improve the products many times over during the 20 year period?

      Why patent when we have many types of possible ways to reward? Why break everyone else’s knees in order to help that one “inventor” feel superior?

      In today’s sophisticated world full of educated people, probably every single inventor takes much more from contemporary society and the gains of the past 20 years than they contribute through any given patented invention. Remember, Einstein had the benefit and taste of seeing many patents and helping reward others with them, yet he did not need a patent in order to make his contributions to physics. What inventor here believes they have invented something that much greater than Einstein’s contributions? Humans that know things well love to create. They don’t need millions of dollars in order to be motivated to create really quality things. They also don’t ask to have everyone else’s hands tied for 20 years.

      3) I like Beethoven’s example a lot.

      Software wasn’t patented initially. Some countries make exceptions for software. Like music, software is information that is essentially created on paper and then experience by others when incorporated into physical machines (eg, instruments, midi, etc).

      If you look back 20 years before Beethoven (and keep in mind that music development happened much slower then than does software today in the Internet age and with super fast computers and advanced cheap technology and with many many skilled participants), you would find that some techniques or sound combinations or instruments were apparently introduced during that time but which Beethoven was able to leverage (thank goodness).

      All of those music combinations and “firsts” are analogous to software patents. Patents *are* that silly. They are given to a single person for a new combination of things that to enough talented software developers are not that impressive but can be indispensable for building great software. Thus, for an enforced patent monopoly, society has given up on the software “Beethoven” of today being able to have his/her go at these broad and basic patented combinations for use within his/her masterpieces. If Beethoven did software and was around today, he would have much trouble creating masterpieces without infringing on numerous patents.

      Your third point is wrong. The analogy used in the film is not of Fred copying Beethoven the inventor in order to get credit. The correct analogy is Beethoven not being able to build a masterpiece because of Fred’s unremarkable (or even remarkable) and broad patent on a basic technique or concept that Beethoven and many others will want (or even need) to use in their masterpieces and other works. Society doesn’t get the Beethoven Symphonies (or they sound much worse when we factor in all the patents that might apply), and Beethoven lives out his years unable to put his skills to the max. 20 years is a long time, especially when you must avoid *all* such patents that occurred within the last 20 years before you finished your work. How likely are *you* to create something complex if you can’t use it for about 20 years? Patent monopolies create huge disincentives to keep innovating and to build sophisticated and superior products (since these works would be covered by numerous patents).

      Again, things progress faster with software today than did with music back then, and many more people are skilled in software composition today than were in music composition back then. A 20 year block is more painful today on software than would be back then on music.

      Software is complicated and nuanced, but it has been doing just fine over the decades with relatively few patent enforcements (eg, see the growth of Microsoft software patents over the years). Today, patents are being taken out much much faster and frequently by large corporations bent on preserving their market position and worried about open source cutting off their monopoly and other lucrative money streams. The better the Internet gets, the more technology improves, the more technology becomes cheaper and reaches more people, etc, the greater is the loss to society for any patent enforcement, and worse for the growing number of software patent enforcements.

  • susanstar says:

    the movie is out of reach now? How can I watch it?

  • Amy says:

    So, pay the royalty. You are using someone else’s invention. Pay him. If software development is so easy, why is it only possible to progress if you are allowed to steal the inventions of others?

    If the original is so bad that you want to write your own, then why do you want to copy it so badly. Start over and write your own.

    Don’t tell me the patent blocks you. If its so bad and you have a better way the better way is not covered by the patent.

    Show me an example of a patent that blocks you from doing the function a better way.

  • Amy says:

    Amy, most important innovations in the software industry happened way before software patents were legal. Therefore software patents are not required for innovation in the software industry. Secondly, software patents are patents for *ideas*. If one-click buy is patented, it’s impossible to create a one-click system in any way. A zero-click buy doesn’t make much sense. You can’t “write your own one-click buy”. This is an example of a patent blocking anyone from doing the function a better way.

    • Les says:

      Software patents were never –not legal–. Tell me an important innovation in the software industry that you think happened way before software patents were legal, and when you think they became legal, and I’ll show you patents in that that area of innovation dated before that date.

      Of course patents block activity in the exact area they cover. That’s what patents do. However, you can still innovate in the 2 click area or figure out a way to do it without a shopping cart model….a second click in not overly burdensome. That pantent has now been examined a second time in light of documents submitted by someone challenging the patent. With minor amendment to some of the claims, the patent has survived the challenge. They came up with 1 click, they are entitled to what ever competitive advantage it gives them of the short life of the patent.

      • Ben in Seattle says:

        Les said: “Software patents were never –not legal–. Tell me an important innovation in the software industry that you think happened way before software patents were legal, and when you think they became legal, and I’ll show you patents in that that area of innovation dated before that date.”

        The date software patents became the law of the land (1980) is actually given in the movie. But, I assume you don’t trust it, so let me bring in a higher authority, Professor Donald Knuth, who is the world’s leading authority on algorithms (he won the freaking TURING AWARD, and I’m going to assume you know what that is, since if you don’t, you’d have no business talking about the patentability of software). Knuth says, “In the period 1945–1980, it was generally believed that patent law did not pertain to software.” http://www.pluto.it/files/meeting1999/atti/no-patents/brevetti/docs/knuth_letter_en.html

        You asked for an example of important innovations before patents were legal, I could give you a thousand, but I’ll save my breath and let you check out your own book on algorithms and data structures from the library. (May I recommend Knuth’s “Art of Programming”?) Binary trees, linked lists, quick sort, Strassen’s method of matrix multiplication, fast Fourier transform: these are all non-obvious “inventions”.

        Please feel free to waste your time looking for related patents dated before those innovations as you challenged, but I’d rather you just admitted you were wrong on this point so we can get to the crux of the matter: “stealing”.

        I think the fundamental difference between your point of view and mine is that you see infringement of software patents as “stealing” from an inventor, whereas I see granting of patents as stealing from the public. Software patents are as disgusting to me as someone squatting on public lands, putting up barbed wire, and then claiming ownership. It’s theft of something that once belonged to all of us.

        Les, I know other people have tried to explain our point of view, but I haven’t seen a response from you yet that demonstrates that you understand where we’re coming from, so I’ll try again. I apologize for rehashing some of this.

        Software is not like hardware, where it makes sense to have patents. For example, the computer mouse was patented and I think rightly so. But, in software there is no physical device; every “invention” is an algorithm, composed purely of mathematics. It would be better to describe inventors in software as discoverers — it may have taken much pioneering effort, but what they have found is not something new, but something that was out there already, an algorithm none of us knew (e.g., click-once-to-buy), but we would have found if we’d looked hard enough.

        Yes, software pioneers should be compensated for their discoveries, but that’s what COPYRIGHT is for. The patent system is a completely different beast — it was designed not for compensation but for encouraging innovation. And in the realm of software, patents not only stifle innovation, they harm 99.9999% (rough estimate) of the innovators. And that’s the real theft: the greatest geniuses of our time are wasting effort reinventing wheels when we could be making rocket ships.

        • les says:

          Hi Ben -

          I wasted 2 minutes on your behalf and searched for patents prior to 1980 related to sorting data. Here’s clam 34 from the first I looked at:

          34. A computer method for sorting a plurality of record units each having a keyfield, in accordance with the code value of said keyfields, wherein each of said keyfields includes a plurality of keyfield bits arranged in a predetermined keyfield bit order, comprising, in combination, the steps of:

          generating a plurality of record unit address signals each accessing a corresponding one of said record units, to form a first address sequence;

          processing said first address sequence signals to form a first and second address sub-sequence comprising, respectively, all addresses accessing record units whose first keyfield bit in said predetermined keyfield bit order is “0″ and “1″;

          combining said first and second address sub-sequences into a second address sequence wherein the members of said first address subsequence precede the members of said second address subsequence;

          repeating said steps of processing and combining under control of all remaining keyfield bits to provide a final record unit address sequence; and

          selectively transferring said record units from a first to a second storage in a single pass in an access sequence controlled by said final address sequence, whereby said record units are stored in said second storage in an ordered sequence according to their relative keyfield values.

          Here’s a link to the whole patent:

          http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=EIc2AAAAEBAJ&dq=method+of+sorting+data&as_drrb_is=b&as_minm_is=1&as_miny_is=1700&as_maxm_is=1&as_maxy_is=1980

          It issued in 1973, from an application that was filed in ’71.

          I hope Professor Knuth doesn’t have to return his Turing Award.

          I understand your point of view. If I haven’t responded to earlier arguments that software is special, its because I find the position to be too silly to respond to. You are making a distinction without a difference. The computer mouse and the airplane were there to be found just as any algorithm is….Just as David was in the marble before Mikey chipped away the bits that weren’t David.

          Besides the patent laws allow for the patenting of discoveries…:

          35 USC 101:

          Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

        • les says:

          Here’s claim 1 from a patent to FFT:

          1. The machine method of generating a sequence of signals which represent Fourier series coefficients of an input sequence of N real-valued signals comprising the steps of:

          1. storing said input sequence of signals in a machine memory,

          2. generating an ordered set of complex-valued signals,

          3. selectively combining in a machine and according to a constant relation said stored signals and said complex-valued signals, thereby to form a new sequence of complex-valued signals none of which bears a necessary conjugate relation to another,

          4. storing said new sequence of signals in said machine memory in place of said sequence of signals previously stored in said machine memory, and

          5. iteratively performing steps (3) and (4) with the sequence generated by the immediately preceding iteration and said ordered set of signals entering as operands.

          That issued in ’71 from an application filed in ’68.

          http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=hg9uAAAAEBAJ&dq=method+of+fast+Fourier+transform&as_drrb_ap=q&as_minm_ap=0&as_miny_ap=&as_maxm_ap=0&as_maxy_ap=&as_drrb_is=b&as_minm_is=1&as_miny_is=1700&as_maxm_is=1&as_maxy_is=1980

          And Claim 5 from another FFT related Patent from ’74/’ 77

          5. A method of computing the discrete Fourier transform of a waveform comprising the steps of:

          receiving a series of digital data representative of said waveform;
          storing sequentially said series of digital data representative of said waveform;
          subtracting the oldest stored data from the newest stored data to obtain a difference each time a data is received;
          generating a series of predetermined constants;
          providing an output shift storage means;
          adding sequentially each of the data stored in said output shift storage means to said difference to produce a series of addition signals;
          multiplying each addition signal by a predetermined constant from said series of predetermined constants to obtain a series of products;
          sequentially storing said series of products in said output shift storage means;
          whereby said output shift storage means contains a series of Fourier coefficients.

          http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=2ao6AAAAEBAJ&dq=method+of+fast+Fourier+transform&as_drrb_ap=q&as_minm_ap=0&as_miny_ap=&as_maxm_ap=0&as_maxy_ap=&as_drrb_is=b&as_minm_is=1&as_miny_is=1700&as_maxm_is=1&as_maxy_is=1980

        • les says:

          Here’s a claim to software that uses linked lists from ’74/’76

          1. A display refresh method comprising the steps of:

          encoding data representing figures to be displayed as data characters;
          encoding data representing enhancement features and execution path instructions as control characters;
          combining the data and control characters to form linked list data blocks; and
          interpreting the linked list data blocks to form displayable lines.

          http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=0OkAAAAAEBAJ&dq=%22linked+list%22&as_drrb_ap=q&as_minm_ap=0&as_miny_ap=&as_maxm_ap=0&as_maxy_ap=&as_drrb_is=b&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=1700&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=1980&num=30

  • Stefan says:

    Playing Patent_Absurdity_HQ_768kbit.ogv.
    Ogg stream 0 is of an unknown type
    [Ogg] stream 1: video (Theora v3.2.1), -vid 0
    [Ogg] stream 2: audio (Vorbis), -aid 0
    Ogg file format detected.
    VIDEO: [theo] 768×432 24bpp 29.970 fps 0.0 kbps ( 0.0 kbyte/s)
    open: No such file or directory
    [MGA] Couldn’t open: /dev/mga_vid
    open: No such file or directory
    [MGA] Couldn’t open: /dev/mga_vid
    [VO_TDFXFB] Can’t open /dev/fb0: No such file or directory.
    [VO_3DFX] Unable to open /dev/3dfx.
    ==========================================================================
    Opening video decoder: [ffmpeg] FFmpeg’s libavcodec codec family
    [theora @ 0x7fdaf3e2b600]Missing extradata!
    Could not open codec.
    VDecoder init failed :(
    Opening video decoder: [theora] Theora/VP3
    VDec: vo config request – 768 x 432 (preferred colorspace: Planar YV12)
    VDec: using Planar YV12 as output csp (no 0)
    Movie-Aspect is 1.78:1 – prescaling to correct movie aspect.
    VO: [xv] 768×432 => 768×432 Planar YV12
    Selected video codec: [theora] vfm: theora (Theora (free, reworked VP3))
    ==========================================================================
    ==========================================================================
    Opening audio decoder: [ffmpeg] FFmpeg/libavcodec audio decoders
    AUDIO: 48000 Hz, 2 ch, s16le, 96.0 kbit/6.25% (ratio: 12000->192000)
    Selected audio codec: [ffvorbis] afm: ffmpeg (FFmpeg Vorbis)
    ==========================================================================
    [AO OSS] audio_setup: Can’t open audio device /dev/dsp: No such file or directory
    AO: [alsa] 48000Hz 2ch s16le (2 bytes per sample)
    Starting playback…
    A: 32.5 V: 32.5 A-V: 0.000 ct: -0.012 975/975 3% 0% 0.3% 0 0
    Invalid frame duration value (32.566/0.000 => -32.566). Defaulting to 0.033 sec.
    A: 82.8 V: 52.2 A-V: 30.641 ct: 1.950 1563/1563 2% 0% 0.3% 0 0
    A: 88.9 V: 58.9 A-V: 29.967 ct: 2.624 1765/1765 2% 0% 0.3% 1 0
    Invalid frame duration value (58.926/0.000 => -58.926). Defaulting to 0.033 sec.
    A: 100.7 V: 63.5 A-V: 37.154 ct: 2.631 1904/1904 1% 0% 0.2% 1 0
    Exiting… (Quit)

  • Stefan says:

    Hey swpat.org,

    just in case you’re really interested in freedom or privacy, and don’t just pretend this, *why* are you using http://www.gravatar.com on this pages? This makes users contributions traceable across sites, and also reveals who comminity networks to the gravatar.com owners. This really sucks!

    • Ciaran says:

      Ok, I’ve disabled gravatars and done all the other things you requested.

      Gravatars were enabled two or three days ago when I changed a setting that had no mention of “gravatars” or of any third-party site. Thanks for bringing the issue to my attention.

  • Stefan says:

    Hey swpat.org,

    Just in case you would actually care a bit about freedom or privacy: I wonder why you use http://www.gravatar.com on this site. This makes users traceable across sites and also reveals community networks to the operators of gravatar.com. This really sucks!

  • Les says:

    Karl -

    My posts are now being blocked. I wonder why.

    • Ciaran says:

      Hi.

      No posts have been blocked, and there are no posts pending in the spam filter.

      What problem have you encountered? If your posts are somehow blocked, how did you post this comment?

      The spam filters are currently completely disabled, and I’m the only administrator, so I can’t think of what might cause any comments to be blocked.

      Any more information you can give me about this would be very helpful.

  • Les says:

    give me a way to answer you and i will…maybe short messages are getting through

  • Les says:

    it started yesterday when i tried to “Reply” to Karl.

    Now I can’t post normally from home.

  • Les says:

    I’ll try to post my more lengthy post next…if it shows in a minute…things might be working…. if not, you will know they are not.

  • Les says:

    Ok…. maybe its a technical issue with replying to your post…. so, I’ll try again here:

    Karl

    U.S. Patent No. 6,243,373 claims a specific way of establishing a phone call. It may seem obvious now, 15 years later, but at the time the way you placed an internet call from your phone was to dial digits for some service that did such things and then dial digits for the party you wanted to talk to. This claimed improvement is a way to place the call they way you place any other call, dial the party you want to talk to:

    1. A method of routing a full duplex telephone call between a first telephone set and a second telephone set using a public computer network as at least part of a communication link connecting said first and second telephone sets, comprising the steps of:

    receiving at a first computer network access port a first telephone call from a central office placed from said fist telephone set initiating said full duplex telephone call, said first telephone call specifying a telephone number of said second telephone set, without specifying additional telephone destinations;
    converting data received from the central office to an Intenet protocol;
    establishing a communication link over said public computer network between said first computer network access port and a remote second computer network access port;
    placing a second telephone call from said second computer network access port to said second telephone set using a PSTN;
    converting data received from the public computer network from Intenet protocol to a PSTN protocol; and
    connecting said first telephone call, said communication link and said second telephone call to thereby establish a telephone call between said first telephone set and said second telephone set.

    In light of this patent, you are still able to place calls without the internet. You can still place calls from computer to computer. You can still place calls from your computer to someones phone. You can still place calls from your phone to someone else’s computer. So, you’re free to make many many improvements. You just can’t do what these guys came up with.

    Its the same with any other invention. If it were a mouse trap with a second spring, you would be blocked from making 2 spring mouse traps….but you could still make them with one big spring or with hydraulic actuators. There is no reason to block software developers from patenting their inventions. Software is not a special area of innovation.

    • Karl says:

      I’m glad my reading wasn’t wasted, patent claims are worse to read than EULAs.

      “U.S. Patent No. 6,243,373 claims a specific way of establishing a phone call. It may seem obvious now, 15 years later, but at the time the way you placed an internet call from your phone was to dial digits for some service that did such things and then dial digits for the party you wanted to talk to. This claimed improvement is a way to place the call they way you place any other call, dial the party you want to talk to:”

      Its not like nobody thought “Why can’t each user have their own phone number”. There is a list of 24 claims in that patent, its my understanding that for patent infringement to occur a person only has to infringe on one of the claims.

      “In light of this patent, you are still able to place calls without the internet. You can still place calls from computer to computer. You can still place calls from your computer to someones phone. You can still place calls from your phone to someone else’s computer. So, you’re free to make many many improvements. You just can’t do what these guys came up with.”

      Actually, claim 1 says otherwise. First, define “public computer network”. I interpret “public computer network” to cover the following:
      1. Internet
      2. LANs, WANs, MANs (Metropolitan area network), that are open for public use and access.
      3. A computer network for the publics usage

      So looking at claim 1 I see the following:
      A computer with a connection to a publicly switched telephone network (like a fax modem connected to an AT&T PSTN line) and a LAN that is considered to be public. Next, another computer connected to the same LAN would maintain a connection to the first computer. The protocols used between computers do not matter as the patent does not specify them. Connected to the first computer (maybe another fax modem) is a telephone device using the same protocol as the PSTN. Also keep in mind that fax modems are pretty flexible with what you can use them for. Now for the key part. Someone dials the number for the PSTN line the first computer is connected to. That first computer auto-answers then connects to the second computer on the LAN and relays the call. The second computer just has to ring the phone connected to it and use it as an input/output device for the call.

      If I look at what this patent covers, I see it covering any VoIP connection where a PSTN telephone is used as a headset. That VoIP connection just needs to call a cell phone (cell phones being part of a PSTN). But I also see another problem, how will a court define a publicly switched telephone network? Any telephone network which is public? What about saying one VoIP provider is a PSTN and then bridge it to another? How will the court define a “telephone set”? I just wouldn’t know exactly what this patent covers, until I’m in court.

      I might also add that I googled “Telecom Internet Ltd.” & “Telecom Internet” but didn’t find anything about them. If they don’t even have a website, what is their purpose of getting a patent? It would seem logical for a business using/selling VoIP services to have a presence on the web.

      If you want to look at what this patent could cover on a lager scale:
      The usage of the Internet to connect publicly switched telephone networks together.
      The usage of the Internet to remotely answer a telephone.
      The usage of a public computer network to proxy a dial-up Internet connection.
      The usage of a public computer network to proxy receiving a fax.

      In all fairness, this patent does not cover only software. It covers processes of using software combined with certain computer hardware.
      I had meant to find a software only patent, but with reading patent after patent I decided to just use this one. I also now wonder, if I connect my network to the Internet, can one consider it part of the Internet? Incoming Internet packets can still be directed to the appropriate locations.

      “There is no reason to block software developers from patenting their inventions. Software is not a special area of innovation.”

      Right, so long as that invention is not software. I however disagree with the second part, software is a very different area of innovation. Software can innovate very very well without patents, and I think that is enough to call it special. I still can’t think of an example where software innovation was helped by patents. Software is cool in the sense that anyone can create something new and not need money to do so. Software innovation can be made without any risk, by anyone. There are a bunch of software programming lessons on-line, available for free. One very special trait of software is how fast software innovations quickly become the building blocks for new software. Imagine if HTTP was patented, and the only way for someone to implement it was to pay heavy royalties to the patenter. If that happened we would not be having this discussion. HTTP probably would not have ever been used as a world wide web standard. I also think about how all of the programs where HTTP is so tightly integrated would not exist. All of the web based services and innovation we have today might not have been invented if HTTP wasn’t so open.

      • Les says:

        “If I look at what this patent covers, I see it covering any VoIP connection where a PSTN telephone is used as a headset”

        Thats because you are reading it with your over reaction anti-patent goggles on.

        Step 1 clearly says “receiving … a first telephone call from a central office. So, MajicJack calls are not covered.

        • Karl says:

          Why did you break up your reply?

          “Thats because you are reading it with your over reaction anti-patent goggles on.”
          Actually, it is a valid concern. How do you know the courts won’t interpret it that way? It is not specific enough.

          “Step 1 clearly says “receiving … a first telephone call from a central office. So, MajicJack calls are not covered.”

          Unless your call is to a cell phone or landline. BTW, majicjack has got the be the worst service I have heard of. I seen reports that majicjack installs adware, and can only be used on Windows XP and maybe vista & 7. I don’t use any of those so I never tried majicjack.

          Conclusion, majicjack calls ARE covered, it just depends on who you call.

          • les says:

            No, you placing a call using a Majicjack from your computer via a phone handset connected to your Majicjack is NOT covered by this patent.

            That call would not be received by your computer from a central office. Therefore the first step of the method is not met. And the claim is not infringed. It does not matter who you call.

            I broke up my reply because I think of answers one at a time.

      • Les says:

        “I might also add that I googled “Telecom Internet Ltd.” & “Telecom Internet” but didn’t find anything about them. If they don’t even have a website, what is their purpose of getting a patent? ”

        A patent grants the owner the right to block others from making, using, selling or importing the invention. It does not grant the owner permission to make or sell the invention. There is no requirement that the owner make the invention. I can have a flash of genius tomorrow and realize how to make anti-gravity engines and file a patent application for it. That doesn’t mean I have the money to start a company to make them…

        In this particular case, Telecom Internet sold the patent to
        ACCERIS COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. , who in tern sold it to
        C2 COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. , who you will be happy to learn, has a web page:

        http://www.c-2technologies.com/

        Chain of custody info from :

        http://assignments.uspto.gov/assignments/q?db=pat&qt=pat&reel=&frame=&pat=6243373&pub=&asnr=&asnri=&asne=&asnei=&asns=

        • Karl says:

          “A patent grants the owner the right to block others from making, using, selling or importing the invention. It does not grant the owner permission to make or sell the invention.”

          I know that already, I was pointing out how they were blocking others just for the money of it.

          “here is no requirement that the owner make the invention”

          I’m actually not sure on that one.

          “I can have a flash of genius tomorrow and realize how to make anti-gravity engines and file a patent application for it.”
          Funny you should say that. The mythbusters did a special on anti-gravity, the patents they found had nothing to do with anti-gravity what so ever.

          “That doesn’t mean I have the money to start a company to make them…”
          True, but a home user wanting to preform the patented process won’t have the money for a license either. That is if a patent license is even available. Do you think non-commercial home users should be immune to patent infringement? I do.

          “In this particular case, Telecom Internet sold the patent to
          ACCERIS COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. , who in tern sold it to
          C2 COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. , who you will be happy to learn, has a web page:

          http://www.c-2technologies.com/

          Thanks for the link. I did check that site out. I am sad to see they are a patent troll. I know you don’t like that term, but its how I define patenters who don’t promote the innovation and progress of the patented inventions. Patents were brought into law for the promotion of innovation, I think we both agree with that. If you don’t please correct me.

          It would be nice if C2 would at least focus on more innovation, but they say:
          “C2 Global Technologies Inc. (“C2”) is focused on licensing its patent portfolio, which includes two foundational patents in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).”

          The foundational part really bugs me, it sounds like a way to squeeze money from VoIP companies/projects/developers/innovators. Not to forget the users of VoIP who the cost is passed down to.

          Sorry for the delay in replying, I do have a real-world life to attend to.

          • les says:

            “Do you think non-commercial home users should be immune to patent infringement? I do.”

            No, I don’t. But in all practicality, they are. No one will ever know if you fly around your basement using my anti-gravity engine. Furthermore, if I do find out, I might send you a letter asking you to pay me a reasonable royalty, but if you don’t I’m probably not going to pay a lawyer to sue you for it.

            “I define patenters who don’t promote the innovation and progress of the patented inventions. Patents were brought into law for the promotion of innovation, I think we both agree with that. If you don’t please correct me.”

            The patent document itself promotes the innovation. But I think you mean uses the innovation….In regard to that, what difference does it make if I make the engines myself or license Lockhead-Martin, Boeing and/or AirBus to make them?

            “The foundational part really bugs me, it sounds like a way to squeeze money from VoIP companies/projects/developers/innovators. Not to forget the users of VoIP who the cost is passed down to.”

            Everyone in your list of “victims” is free not to practice the invention. Place calls Using PSTN or send an email, or go computer to computer, write a letter, send a fax…. go VoIP using the prior 2 number method…

      • Les says:

        Also, the claim recites “said first telephone call specifying a telephone number of said second telephone set, without specifying additional telephone destinations”

        So, this scenario:

        “A computer with a connection to a publicly switched telephone network (like a fax modem connected to an AT&T PSTN line) and a LAN that is considered to be public. Next, another computer connected to the same LAN would maintain a connection to the first computer. The protocols used between computers do not matter as the patent does not specify them. Connected to the first computer (maybe another fax modem) is a telephone device using the same protocol as the PSTN. Also keep in mind that fax modems are pretty flexible with what you can use them for. Now for the key part. Someone dials the number for the PSTN line the first computer is connected to. That first computer auto-answers then connects to the second computer on the LAN and relays the call. The second computer just has to ring the phone connected to it and use it as an input/output device for the call.”

        is not covered. As I understand it, in your scenario the received call does not specifying a telephone number. The dialed digits are stripped off by the central office switch. All that is received by your fax modem is “traffic” there are no control sigs., at least not a telephone number.

        • Les says:

          Oh….and claim 1 recites:placing a second telephone call from said second computer network access port to said second telephone set using a PSTN;

          I don’t think your: ” second computer just has to ring the phone connected to it and use it as an input/output device for the call.”” qualifies as placing a second telephone call …

          so, again, your scenario is not covered.

          • Karl says:

            I’ll reply here instead of your message you replied to. If you can, please don’t break up your posts. It would make it easier for me and possibly the admins.

            first post:
            “is not covered. As I understand it, in your scenario the received call does not specifying a telephone number. The dialed digits are stripped off by the central office switch. All that is received by your fax modem is “traffic” there are no control sigs., at least not a telephone number.”

            That is true, but does that matter? Can’t you count the two computers and the LAN as part of the equipment? After all, there would be no “…additional telephone destinations.” to specify. Now I’m not entirely sure of the patent claims, its like I said before, patents make reading EULAs look easy. I guess you could take out the auto answer and say the computers were an extension, but would that count? The patent is not as clear as I might like.

            Reply to your reply to your post:
            “I don’t think your: ” second computer just has to ring the phone connected to it and use it as an input/output device for the call.”” qualifies as placing a second telephone call …”

            My scenario was incomplete, let me issue a patch:
            To make a call from second telephone, pick up receiver and attached computer would request first computer to relay dial-tone, DTMF, and proceeding call to the attached PTSN line. No extra processing needed to make outbound call. The second telephone functions as if it were directly attached to PSTN.
            Second telephone’s DTMF tones would be then carried through LAN and then through the PSTN line. A call would then take place.

            The second telephone would not need the computers to do anything other than connect it to a PSTN line. The computers would not need to generate DTMF tones, the DTMF tones from the second telephone would be sufficient.

            Does that patch address your concern? I can always patch the patch if it doesn’t work.

            “so, again, your scenario is not covered.”
            Is it covered now?

            • les says:

              “That is true, but does that matter? Can’t you count the two computers and the LAN as part of the equipment? After all, there would be no “…additional telephone destinations.” to specify. Now I’m not entirely sure of the patent claims, its like I said before, patents make reading EULAs look easy. I guess you could take out the auto answer and say the computers were an extension, but would that count? The patent is not as clear as I might like.”

              Yes it matters. To infringe a claim, ALL the limitations must be met. I don’t follow the logic of the rest of your comment. I consider the two computers and LAN as the equipment. That equipment (or more properly the actions of that equipment) does not infringe the claim. The call they received does not specify a telephone number. Therefore, the two computers and Lan do not perform the first step of the method. Furthermore, the second computer does not perform: placing a second telephone call from said second computer network access port to said second telephone set using a PSTN. Placing a second telephone call requires dialing digits. Your second computer doesn’t do that. I also believe a jury would find that the 2 meters of wires from the second computer to the destination phone do not constitute a PSTN even if a PTSN protocol is used.

              So again, your set up does not infringe.

              I’m not sure I follow your “patch”. The claim deals with receiving and relaying a call. In your original scenario the second computer delivered that call to the destination phone. In your patch, I think you are using that phone to place an out going call. In that scenario the second computer might be said to receive information specifying a telephone number. However, the information is probably not yet a call, and more importantly, it is not FROM A CENTRAL OFFICE, which is also a requirement of the first step of the claim.

              So, try as you might, you still haven’t infringed the claim. Be careful though…. your efforts are getting close to “willful”. :-p…. Damages may be tripled. :-p

      • Les says:

        “There is a list of 24 claims in that patent, its my understanding that for patent infringement to occur a person only has to infringe on one of the claims.”

        That’s all true. However, in this case there are only 2 independent claims, 1 and 13 and 13 claiims a system, by which is meant hardware.

        The remainder of the claims depend from an independent claim and therefore include all the details in the independent claim plus what ever the independent claim recites. Therefore, the dependent claims are narrower.

        From your point of view, claim 1 is the worst case scenario. The other claims are there as back up. If the accused infringer convinces a jury that the inventor was not the first to invent whats in claim 1, then maybe they also infringe claim 2, which was more clearly invented by the inventor…etc….They serve a similar purpose during prosecution of the application. If the examiner finds evidence that someone else invented what you recite in claim 1, but not whats in claim 2, you can move the stuff from 2 into 1….

        • Les says:

          that should read: plus what ever the dependent claim recites.

          • Karl says:

            So all claims count? Not just claim 1?

            “From your point of view, claim 1 is the worst case scenario.”
            You have to assume worst case scenario when you risk getting sued for patent infringement. That is why I took the worst case point of view.

            “The other claims are there as back up.”
            The extending claims mostly seem to repeat claim 1. There is backup, but not much.

            “If the accused infringer convinces a jury that the inventor was not the first to invent whats in claim 1, then maybe they also infringe claim 2, which was more clearly invented by the inventor…etc…”

            That seems a little broken to me. Let me make these points:
            Why not just claim what was invented? Why should you try and stretch out the patent to cover more? Stretching out the patent allows for more potential infrengees and then more royalties while at the same time not risk losing the patent all together. However, this kind of practice is very greedy, it is like patenting things you did not invent. When you preform this practice, you are blocking innovation and development of systems that may not relate to your’s. Of course, this patent we’re discussing now is not as bad as they get.

            “If the examiner finds evidence that someone else invented what you recite in claim 1, but not whats in claim 2, you can move the stuff from 2 into 1….”

            I find examiners to sometimes miss examples of prior-art. I also doubt examiners [being humans] are able to scan through all inventions and not just those that are patented.

            I also want to note that though it is possible to challenge a patent in court, it is costly and a waste of tax dollars for something that should not have been granted in the first place. I am sure many people will not want to spend money on an attorney to challenge a patent and possibly make no difference. There is too much at risk to try and challenge a potentially bogus patent, unless you have near unlimited resources (something emerging businesses won’t have). I really fail to see the benefit patents were supposed to bring.

            • les says:

              “So all claims count? Not just claim 1?

              “From your point of view, claim 1 is the worst case scenario.”
              You have to assume worst case scenario when you risk getting sued for patent infringement. That is why I took the worst case point of view. ”

              Yes, I agree. When you first mentioned the other claims in the patent, I got the impression that you thought I was not addressing some important claim that was making the situation worse (from your perspective). So, with this part of my comments, I was only trying to assure you that I was addressing the worst (from your perspective) part of the patent.

              “That seems a little broken to me. Let me make these points:
              Why not just claim what was invented? Why should you try and stretch out the patent to cover more? Stretching out the patent allows for more potential infrengees and then more royalties while at the same time not risk losing the patent all together. However, this kind of practice is very greedy, it is like patenting things you did not invent. When you preform this practice, you are blocking innovation and development of systems that may not relate to your’s. Of course, this patent we’re discussing now is not as bad as they get.”

              I think you are assuming that an inventor is aware of all work and developments in the area around his invention and is trying to steal more than he is entitled to. That’s simply not the case.

              At the time a patent application is filed, inventors only think or suspect that the have invented their device or technique.

              Lets say for example I need to move a heavy load. As far as i know, the only way anyone has ever moved a heavy load is by dragging it. One day while i’m dragging it I kick a stone and it goes rolling some distance and I am inspired.

              I make a wheel… I do so by wrapping rubber around a steel rim I’m able to fashion. You would have me file a patent application for rubber wrapped around a steel rim… but…I happen to know a guy who’s thought about patents a bit and he asks me….Is that the only way to make a wheel?

              I think about it a moment and say….welll…. no… I used rubber because it soft and I dont like to be bumped…. but rubber isn’t absolutely needed… the rim rolls good by itself. Then the guy asks….does the rim have to be made of steel?…..well no…. I used steal because its handy and strong….but if you dont have steal or if you dont need that much strength, you could use other stuff….wood even…. or aluminum…..anything your could make round and connect to a hub really….and so the conversation goes.

              And so…the patent is drafted and a claim is drafted to a thing from making dragging easier comprision

              a round thing connected to a central hub.

              claim 2 says the round thing is connected to the central hub with at least one spoke.

              Claim 3 might say the round thing and hub are made of steal.

              Claim 4 might say the round thing and hub are made of wood.

              Claims 5 and 6 might say the round thing is made of steel or wood respectively with rubber wrapped around it.

              …and so on. I invented all of this variations and flavors…at least I think I did…. it might be that someone else invented the wooden version….if so, then at a minimum I’m entitled to claim that I invented the steal version…and maybe the wooden version with the rubber wrap.

              Why isn’t that fair? Why should I have to be all knowing in order to claim the invention exactly correctly the first time? Either the invention is already known or it isn’t. If it isn’t, I’m entitled to the patent even if I didn’t claim it exactly the right way when I filed the application.

  • Les says:

    Ok… things are working again.

    Yesterdays reply to Karl included a link to the USPTO… I wanted to show him how he could read the discussion between the applicant and the examiner regarding the patent he mentioned….maybe that got me tagged as a spammer?

    • Ciaran says:

      I found the problem. Very sorry, it was our fault.

      A server technician was testing a new spam filter yesterday and two of your comments got eaten.

      I disabled the spam filters a few days ago because there were too many false positives.

      When the spam filters were active, I approved every single comment (except for obvious spam). No comments have ever been blocked or even delayed due to their content. All non-spam comments are welcome – positive, negative, or links to the USPTO website.

      • les says:

        No worries. Thanks for your concern and prompt attention.

        I would suggest that some mechanism for reporting such problems be added to the page, or if its there already, that it be made easier to find.

        Thanks again

  • Tim says:

    This film describes the problem today and how we got there, but doesn’t offer any functional law to describe how to fix it. Wouldn’t shortening the period of exclusive use improve innovation everywhere?

    • Karl says:

      “Wouldn’t shortening the period of exclusive use improve innovation everywhere?”

      It would certainly make things better.

  • JD says:

    This is a good film on an important topic, but it is surprisingly inaccurate in a few regards. One, Bilski’s patent application is for a business method, not software. Software patents are quite different from business method patents in some important respects, one of which being that software patents explicitly don’t cover mental processes. (For obvious reasons, it is inaccurate to describe a claim covering a mental process as “software.”) Rather, proper claims in a software patent recite novel functions in methods that occur on a computer, or that recite the necessary hardware components. In contrast, business method patents, as well as Bilski’s application, may often times be construed to cover processes that are entirely mental. Bilski (and his attorney) readily acknowledge this fact about his patent.

    Two, the authors seem misinformed on how the upcoming Supreme Court decision will affect software patents. There is very little doubt in the patent community that software patents will still be valid after the opinion is released. The Supreme Court opinion has supposedly already been written and is ready to be published any day now. It is rumored to be either a 9-0 or 8-1 decision denying Bilski a patent. Further, since it is expected that some version of the machine-or-transformation test will be upheld, the software world will mostly only be affected in regards to HOW software patents are written.

    Three, noticing that the patent system is not working and proposing a solution are two entirely different discourses. The film correctly points out that software patents are currently being given too broad of coverage; this is rather obvious to anyone in that industry. Patent trolls are an increasing problem in the software world, which the Supreme Court started to tackle in 2007 in eBay v. MercExchange. The biggest problem with the film is that it proposes a solution without examining, or even MENTIONING, the factors that determine how much patent coverage should be provided in a particular technology. Such factors for consideration include R&D costs (as compared to imitator costs), how quickly new technology becomes obsolete, and whether innovation is generally more cumulative/incremental or ground-breaking. Dan Burk and Mark Lemley offer an investigation of these considerations in their book The Patent Crisis. The film, on the other hand, does not. Its claim that software patents should be eliminated is wholly unsubstantiated and lacking the proper evidence.

    Overall, the film’s underlying message is plagued the following logical fallacy: “The current patent system does not work for software, therefore no patent system will work for software.” Patent protection is a matter of breadth; the current system provides software patents with too broad of coverage. Nonetheless, the appropriate amount of protection necessary to foster innovation for software is still greater than zero. By incorrectly grouping the entire software industry along with the realm of mental processes and mathematical equations, the authors grossly confuse the root of the problem.

    • Karl says:

      I think this video was intended to get people’s attention on the issues of software patents. If they made the video more than an hour long many people would likely not bother watching it. So few people care about what happens with the patent system, and they don’t realize how much patents are going to affect them in the long run.

      “Nonetheless, the appropriate amount of protection necessary to foster innovation for software is still greater than zero.”
      Actually, copyright provides a good amount of protection for software innovation. I see Free Software and Open Source Software innovating greatly with noting but copyright and a copyleft license like the GPL. I however ask, what does innovation need protecting from? I already know the answer myself, but it is an important question to ask.

      “Such factors for consideration include R&D costs (as compared to imitator costs), how quickly new technology becomes obsolete, and whether innovation is generally more cumulative/incremental or ground-breaking.”

      Very good points. You should also look at just how much innovation a specific patent will bring. Its not hard to waste the budget and say R&D was expensive. It is also a good idea to remember that not just corporations are creating software and software innovation. Many Many Free Software projects as well as Open Source projects have demonstrated that software innovation can take place anywhere. Even by the public itself.

    • Ben in Seattle says:

      JD, thank you for your informative comment!

      I agree that the movie is weak in many ways that would make an expert cringe. This is clearly an introductory film aimed at an audience that doesn’t know what a “software patent” is and why the concept matters.

      I disagree that the film’s underlying message is a fallacy. Far from simply pointing out the most obvious ways the current system is broken, they actually give very good evidence that software is not just another technology. Of course, we’re probably disagreeing here because what I see as the strongest evidence, that software is equivalent to mathematics, is what you dismiss as confusion. As a programmer and computer scientist, it’s hard for me to see software as anything but ultimately mathematics; I take it you are coming from a law background?

      One final point, the film is definitely *not* saying that Bilski would overturn software patents; the message I got was that there’s a long road to hoe before we get there but this is an important step on the way.

      Thanks again for your well written post. Although I disagree with you, it’s nice to see someone suggesting a middle way of limiting the scope of software patents instead of falling into the binary debate of “End Software Patents!” vs. “E=mc² should have been patented!” Perhaps here’s something we can both agree on: The current system of software patents is more damaging to the industry than not having software patents at all and, until a fix is found, there should be a moratorium on software patents.

  • deleted:spam says:

    [comment deleted: spam]

    • Karl says:

      Why did you repost my reply?

      • Ciaran says:

        It’s a new form of spam :-(

        The spammer reposts an existing comment and adds their client’s link. (The user’s name, Bill, is a link to “geekcomic”)

        To block this spam, I have to look at each new comment and see if it’s a duplicate. I can’t spend too much time doing that, so there’s always the risk that I miss some, or worse, that I delete a real comment by mistake.

        I’ll have to install a new spam blocking system.

  • Karl says:

    Why did you also repost one of my replies? Is there something I am missing?

  • jonathan says:

    hi.

    Good work!

    The Encoding of the HD version is still quite bad. Overquotes sometimes appear and disappear immediately, leaving the rest of the video just “hanging” for a few seconds before it continues:

    In the HD version: Timebase errors on VLC Mac OS X at: 57s and jumps to 1:01s. There are similar issues elsewhere in the film.

    Please fix. I would like to show others the HD version. For the time being, I’ll stick with “High Quality.”

  • Yusei TAHARA says:

    Thank you for great film! I love it.

    About subtitles, as other people mentioned, please consider changing the license to CC BY-SA (to ALLOW DERIVATIVE WORKS) or consider adding an exception to embed subtitles.

    Frankly to say, using “.srt” file with supported video player is very difficult for many people. This licence restriction prevents us to popularize this movie. Embedded subtitles is really important.

    • Ciaran says:

      My understanding is that FSF will be organising the making of videos with embedded subtitles.

      Changing the licence might not be possible (whether it’s really desirable is another question). The contributors consented to be in this film. They didn’t consent to being in “this film plus any film based on this film”.

      • Yusei TAHARA says:

        Thank you for your answer. Your understanding is right. I asked to FSF and got the same answer.
        My intention was to show people the film with embedded subtitles, so the current license is OK now.

      • Yusei TAHARA says:

        And, could you write about this plan(FSF will be organising the making of videos with embedded subtitles) to the subtitles wiki page below as official message? FSF told me that their translation team will check accuracy of the translation together. Then others will not become confused like me.

        http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Patently_Absurd/Subtitles