Saturday, January 29, 2005

Patent threats to US IT industry and my ability to earn a living

I am getting ready to write a letter to my two Senators and Congressman (from Arizona), so this blog entry is a "dry run":

As a technologist living in the US, I welcome global competition. Although it is a little rough competing with people who live in low cost of living countries like China and India, I am up for that challenge. There is another threat to my ability to earn a living (long term) that does concern me:

Ultimately, open source software is the future and in the US the writing is on the wall: corporations who see open source as a threat will try to pay off Congress to pass legislation that removes people's freedom of choice between commercial and open source software. They will do this with attempts to pass discriminatory legislation, threats of patent based lawsuits, and eventual litigation. I recognize and support the rights of individuals and corporations in regards to proprietary property, but the lax issuance of software patents has been unfortunate.

All I ask for is a fair battle between proprietary and open source software in terms of technological advantage, the maximum good for both software developers and end users of software, and society at large.

Individuals and companies who want to base their business models on proprietary software have my blessing, but I see myself continuing to want to use a mixture of open source and proprietary software in my own business and I don't want anyone taking that choice away from me. I believe that open source will play an even larger factor in my business in the future.

Long term threat to US industries: if misapplication of software patents in the US stifles the health of the US IT industry, it will only be to the competitive advantage of our global neighbors in countries in South America, Asia, etc. that openly embrace the choice between open source and proprietary software solutions. Use of open source software in schools, industry, research and development, etc. is key to enabling more individuals and small agile companies to create new technologies.

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