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Re: <nettime> A 'licensing fee' for GNU/Linux?
Florian Cramer on Sun, 8 Aug 2004 13:53:46 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> A 'licensing fee' for GNU/Linux?

Am Samstag, 07. August 2004 um 15:35:24 Uhr (+0200) schrieb Felix Stalder:
> Well, actually, the story of the GIF patent controversy is exactly the oher
> way around and fits perfectly into my argument about differences between
> proprietary and FOSS in terms of risk exposure in the coming patent mess.

> As he continued to explain, all of the major proprietary packages (Adobe
> Corel etc) had licensed the patented technology and hence users where
> entitled make as many .gif images as they wanted for whatever purpose. What
> they were after were people who used programs that had not licensed the
> patents, which were mainly freeware (though sometimes this freeware was
> distributed as part of commercial software) and FOSS programs (though the
> played a minor role back then in the field of graphic design).

I still fail to follow your logic. If you used a free program like
ImageMagick [which btw. already played a major role back then as a backend
for server-side image generation and manipulation] or The Gimp to produce
GIFs, you got sued.  If you used a proprietary program [whether non-FOSS
"freeware" or commercial] whose authors hadn't licensed LZW from Unisys,
you - and not the authors - got sued, too. The proprietary license did
_not_, as you wrote in your initial posting, save you, the user, from
legal risks, i.e. it did _not_ ensure that the program author got sued
instead of you, the user.

So whether you use free or proprietary software, your risk of getting sued
has nothing to do with the type of the license, but solely depends on the
respective proactive care taken by the creator of the program.  Adobe
licensed LZW, Debian on the contrary removed GIF support in its Gimp
packages to turn risk away from its users.

Since there exist myriads of software patents for almost anything from
one-click-orders to content management systems, no software creator and
distributor (regardless whether Debian or Adobe) will ever be able to
guarantee that nobody else won't sue your, the user's, ass. Welcome to the
new economy of post-material capitalism!



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