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   RE: [xml-dev] Patent non-proliferation and disarmament

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At 9:31 AM -0700 5/13/02, Joshua Allen wrote:

>I think comparing Compuserve and WWW is a wee bit unfair; at least from
>a "free and open" perspective.  The WWW succeeded over alternatives
>because of universal identifiers.  I don't think that patent or cost
>considerations led organizations to choose WWW over CompuServe.  And
>plenty of people still use AOL, so there is nothing about a
>"proprietary" system that precludes participation in a universal
>identifier system.

The WWW wasn't universal initially. It could not, for example, point 
into Compuserve content or AOL forums. (In fact, I think it still 
can't). However, it became universal or nearly so because it was free 
and open.

>Cisco still doesn't provide source code for their routers, AFAIK.  The
>very fabric of the Internet is only as "open" as the protocols that get
>pounded out between Cisco and its competitors in the IETF.  No open
>source reference implementations there.

There are most certainly open source implementations. I don't know if 
they're always the official reference implementation (if indeed any 
such exists) but the fact is a Linux box running free software can do 
anything a Cisco router can do, maybe not quite as fast (yet) but 
that's more an issue of custom hardware than software. I for one 
fully expect Cisco to nose dive within five years in the face of open 
source competition from faster and cheaper commodity hardware.

>Expecting people to renounce selfish behavior and behave altruistically
>is not realistic.  Expecting society to abolish intellectual property is
>not realistic.  Anyone who holds such expectations will be faced with
>constant shock and indignation (when not busy looking for diamond tiaras
>in the gutter), and will be pliable material for the politicians.

Expecting current notions of intellectual property to survive in the 
21st century is not realistic, precisely because people don't behave 
altruistically. Napster was just the beginning. I don't know exactly 
what the future will look like, but I am confident that in 50 years 
(probably within 20, possibly within 10) copyright law is going to be 
as obsolete as 19th century laws about horses and buggies. Society 
will abolish intellectual property, initially without the cooperation 
of the courts or politicians but eventually they'll come around too. 
I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing or moral or 
immoral. I'm saying it's going to happen whether you want it to or 
not, and that it cannot be stopped by law.

Some pieces will survive. Trademarks will probably still be 
important. Patents may survive in some form until we have cheap 
fabricators on our desks and then they too will disappear into 
irrelevance. Copyright's going to be the first to go. It's already 
falling apart.

| Elliotte Rusty Harold | elharo@metalab.unc.edu | Writer/Programmer |
|          The XML Bible, 2nd Edition (Hungry Minds, 2001)           |
|             http://www.cafeconleche.org/books/bible2/              |
|   http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0764547607/cafeaulaitA/   |
|  Read Cafe au Lait for Java News:  http://www.cafeaulait.org/      |
|  Read Cafe con Leche for XML News: http://www.cafeconleche.org/    |


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