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19 April 2010, 19:22

"Patent Absurdity" documentary available as free download

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Zoom Eben Moglen of the Software Freedom Law Center
Source: CC-BY-SA Luca Lucarini
A new 30-minute documentary titled "Patent Absurdity: how software patents broke the system" about the application of patent law to software is now available to download from Film maker Luca Lucarini uses the Bilski trial, which is currently in progress at the US Supreme Court, as an occasion to interview numerous people working in fields affected by the issue, such as programmers, book authors, lawyers and mathematicians.

Among those interviewed are prominent advocates of free licensing models like Free Software Foundation (FSF) founder Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen, the FSF's chief legal advisor. However, they also include Bernhard Bilski and his lawyer Michael Jakes, who are currently appealing to the US Supreme Court to overturn a previous refusal on a software patent.

It is perhaps no surprise that in Lucarini's documentary the critics of software patents appear to prevail since the project was sponsored by the Free Software Foundation. Because it presents complex issues in a factual way that can be grasped by lay persons, Patent Absurdity is not just a film for free software fans or patent lawyers.

Many viewers might find an analogy presented by Richard Stallman particularly illuminating. Stallman uses the example of the composer Beethoven to demonstrate the impact hypothetical patent rights to musical concepts patented before his time would have had on his freedom to compose. Beethoven would have found such patents a severe handicap.

Patent Absurdity can be downloaded in various resolutions or viewed directly in the browser. The film producers chose the free and open source Ogg Theora video codec to encode the film, a codec which is probably not affected by any patents. The film is available under a Creative Commons Licence.

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Robert Seetzen

(Robert Seetzen / crve)

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