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Re: [vox] Political Question
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Re: [vox] Political Question



On Thu, Aug 05, 2004 at 08:09:08AM -0700, Robert G. Scofield wrote:
> Here is a statement from someone in Australia who opposed the U.S. - 
> Australia free trade agreement:
> 
> "America's patent laws have forced significant
> > aspects of Open Source 
> > activity to relocate to Europe and Asia, and we
> > should not be going down 
> > that route."
> 
> The author previously stated that 8% of all open source developers are Australian.  The author's concern is with the Australian IT industry.
> 
> I'm trying to make sense of this.  My first question is have U.S. patent laws forced significant aspects of open source activity to Europe and Asia?  I don't see how open source activity can get pushed from one place to another.

Until the RSA patents expired (actually, RSA "released" them two weeks
before their expiration. I have a commemorative T-shirt.), it was not
legal to run OSS in the US that included code implementing their
public key cryptographic algorithms. This was a real pain in the butt,
because SSL, a protocol that many other protocols rely upon for
encryption, relies on RSA. A separate issue was the arms export laws,
which actually caused the opposite problem. (Code written in the US
that used strong cryptography could not be legally made available to
non-US downloaders.)

However, it was perfectly fine to write and execute that same code in
Europe. I can't recall why; maybe the patent expired earlier in other
countries than it did here. Mozilla had to ship separately with
SSL-enabled and non-SSL-enabled versions, etc.

Maybe this is the sort of thing referred to?

There may be other examples: there are patent issues with LZW
compression... perhaps some things like these don't apply in certain
other countries?

-- 
Micah J. Cowan
micah@cowan.name
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