The issue of patents for software continues to be a major controversy, particularly in the open source community. On March 19, 2007, Bruce Perens held a news conference to criticize Novell's recent agreement with Microsoft as a betrayal of the open source community. On the same day, he joined Phil and Scott to discuss his statements.
He first gives an overview of the patent system and how software patents were first granted. While he believes in the importance of the system, he states that software creation is well covered by copyright law. He talks about current lawsuits where software patent rights were in question. In many cases, the smaller open source developer couldn't outlast the larger organization's legal resources, forcing settlements that often destroyed the smaller company. The group discusses how the Microsoft/Novell agreement will cause this situation to grow, with little money available to defend against the lawsuits. Perens also discusses how the upcoming GPL revision is expected to deal with the ongoing problem.
Series Producer Note: parts of the recording contain lower quality audio, but the overall content is still clear.
Bruce Perens is a leader in the Free Software and Open Source community. He is creator of the Open Source Definition, the manefesto of the Open Source movement in Software. He's founder or co-founder of the Open Source Initiative, The Linux Standard Base, Software in the Public Interest, and No-Code International. Perens released his first Free Software program, Electric Fence, in 1987. He is creator of Busybox, which has spawned its own development community and is part of most commercial devices using embedded Linux. In addition to being a vice president at Sourcelabs, he is a member of the board of directors of Open Source Risk Management Inc. and a major stockholder of Progeny Linux Inc. He is an elected director of Software in the Public Interest, Inc.
Perens is series editor of the Bruce Perens' Open Source Series line of books with Prentice Hall PTR publishers, with 20 titles published so far. He is Senior Research Scientist for Open Source with George Washington University's Cyber Security Policy Research Institute. He previously spent two years with HP as Senior Global Strategist for Linux and Open Source, and was president of Linux Capital Group, a venture fund that specialized in Linux.
Perens spent 20 years in the computer graphic animation industry, 12 of them at Pixar Animation Studios. He has a credit on the films A Bug's Life and Toy Story II.
This free podcast is from our Technometria with Phil Windley series.