Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.
Re: Progaming Code as protected speech
Author: Adam Farstrup Posted: 4/10/2000; 7:27:07 AM Topic: Progaming Code as protected speech Msg #: 16057 (In response to 16018) Prev/Next: 16056 / 16058
Slight correction, I mis-typed. What I meant to say was analogous to a copyright, not trademark. Sorry, I've gone back and corrected it.
The copyright and patent systems were, in some ways, set up with the same objectives, to protect the hard work of someone. The problem arises that copywright's were developed to protect the specific expression of a thought. Whereas patents protect a tangible, physical design - yet they are very similar. I think one of the problems is that software and the internet blur the line, they are expressions of thought yet they come so close to being something tangible.
Intellectual thought has always had a respect problem with the mainstream US. Look at how scorned 'academics in the ivory tower' are by the general population, just an observation. This respect problem leads to an understanding problem. Now we face the reality of thought becoming a business product on a much wider scale. There have always been knowledge industries but they too produced something more tangible (ie a research report) where it was easy to define the original work they had done and copywright laws generally worked. With the internet and software, the lines get really blurred and it is very difficult for many people to wrap their minds around the fact that, say one-click ordering, is more a specific expression of a thought, than a physical design which should be protected. The breakdown of understanding occurs because one-click ordering produces a tangible end result (a product shows up in my mailbox and my credit card is debited). It seems that this leap, from intellectual type thought to tangible result, is a hard leap for many people to make.
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