RE: The "intellectual property" misnomer

Discussion in 'Python' started by Tim Peters, Jul 12, 2003.

  1. Tim Peters

    Tim Peters Guest

    [Ian Bicking]
    > Functionally, though, I think the term intellectual property here
    > works.


    Yup. "Copyrights, trademarks, patents, stuff like that" is the common and
    the intended meaning.

    > PSF holds (to their knowledge) all intellectual property associated
    > with Python


    No, it doesn't. Aahz was correct in clarifying that it's part of the PSF's
    mission to obtain that stuff. For the most obvious example, stare at your
    Python license file: copyrights in some of the Python source code prior to
    the 2.1 release are still held by CWI, CNRI, and BeOpen.com. CNRI also
    holds several trademarks related to Python, and has applications for others
    in progress (such as for "Python" itself -- that's been in progress for
    about 3 years now!).

    > -- there may be no patents, but with the statement they assert that
    > either there are no patents or they hold them.


    The PSF doesn't know of any patents associated with Python. It's possible
    that the PSF will apply for some, though, and I like using "intellectual
    property" because it covers (in the common understanding) all stuff of this
    nature.

    > We also know (implied from other sources) that PSF does not restrict
    > its intellectual property.


    That's an explicit part of the PSF's Mission Statement. For example, if the
    PSF were to seek algorithmic patents, it would be to protect the free use of
    algorithms in Python that may be patentable, or perhaps as a deterrent
    against lawsuits (much as private corporations sometimes build a patent
    portfolio as protection against patent suits from other companies -- "oh
    yeah? you sue us for process X, and we'll sue you for process Y, so let's
    compromise and enter a cross-licensing agreement instead"). Not that there
    are any current PSF plans to seek patents -- there aren't. It would be
    within the PSF's mission to do so, though, if we thought that would be in
    the public interest.

    > The intent of this statement is that someone using Python need not
    > worry about "intellectual property" associated with Python, which
    > includes at least patent, copyright, and trade secrets.


    Well, the PSF would *like* to say that, but nobody can predict what courts
    will say, and there's always some element of risk. The PSF exists in part
    to hold Python's IP in the public interest, but doesn't yet even hold all
    that currently exists.

    > I don't know how this applies to trademarks, since they are different
    > from the others, and obviously PSF does not hold every trademark that
    > contains Python and relates to computers.


    The PSF doesn't currently hold any trademarks or service marks. Guido has a
    strong case (IMO) for a trademark on Python as applied to a computer
    language, but the US trademark office doesn't make such fine distinctions
    readily.

    [Ben Finney]
    >> If the PSF holds software patents in Python, I imagine many would be
    >> outraged. I don't believe it does. If it's not the case, why imply
    >> it with an overbroad term?


    [Ian]
    > I would not be outraged.


    Good -- we've had quite enough outrage in this thread already, and, as
    above, it is conceivable that the PSF may hold patents someday.

    > If they enforced those patents, then I might be outraged.


    Me too. Unless it was just to destroy Perl <wink>.
    Tim Peters, Jul 12, 2003
    #1
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  2. "Tim Peters" <> wrote:

    >> -- there may be no patents, but with the statement they assert that
    >> either there are no patents or they hold them.

    >
    >The PSF doesn't know of any patents associated with Python. It's possible
    >that the PSF will apply for some, though, and I like using "intellectual
    >property" because it covers (in the common understanding) all stuff of this
    >nature.


    It's probably better to "think outside the box" and stop using the
    term altogether. After reading this:

    http://old.law.columbia.edu/my_pubs/anarchism.html

    I get the feeling that many of the things said in there are true, but
    still the conclusion to fight the law using the law as per the GPL
    must be wrong.

    For example:

    http://www.negativland.com/albini.html

    suggests that the legal system does little for creators of music and
    is mainly used to protect the interest of the music companies.

    Probably nothing good can come from using it. I am not saying that it
    cannot be used to prevent something bad, but that it's probably better
    to try to do something good ...

    Another problem with the IP term is that it feels like a "contradictio
    in terminis". It is very hard (impossible even ?) to delineate ones
    own contribution to a piece of software because if an idea has any
    quality it almost always depends on the ideas of a lot of other
    people. Therefore ideas are very unlikely to be "undivided" property,
    unless the intellectual level is very low.

    Anton

    --

    If I have seen farther than others, it is only because I was standing
    on the shoulders of giants
    Anton Vredegoor, Jul 13, 2003
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  3. Tim Peters

    Ben Finney Guest

    On Sun, 13 Jul 2003 13:33:32 +0200, Anton Vredegoor wrote:
    > Probably nothing good can come from using it. I am not saying that it
    > cannot be used to prevent something bad, but that it's probably better
    > to try to do something good ...


    Thank you. I am in complete agreement with this sentiment, but you've
    expressed it simpler than I did.

    > if an idea has any quality it almost always depends on the ideas of a
    > lot of other people. Therefore ideas are very unlikely to be
    > "undivided" property, unless the intellectual level is very low.


    This was in large part my basis for stating the term was meaningless.

    --
    \ "Jealousy: The theory that some other fellow has just as little |
    `\ taste." -- Henry L. Mencken |
    _o__) |
    http://bignose.squidly.org/ 9CFE12B0 791A4267 887F520C B7AC2E51 BD41714B
    Ben Finney, Jul 13, 2003
    #3
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