[cryptography] algorithmic patents, was Re: NSA's position in the dominance stakes

travis+ml-rbcryptography at subspacefield.org travis+ml-rbcryptography at subspacefield.org
Thu Nov 18 21:17:25 EST 2010

On Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 06:05:56PM -0600, Marsh Ray wrote:
> Note that none of this has anything whatsoever to do with "promoting the  
> progress of science and the useful arts".
> But what's really sad is that this baloney has affected my ability to  
> sit down and write a computer program that basically does pure math and  
> give the resulting system away or use it to produce value.

1) I don't want to have to become a patent lawyer to be a programmer.

2) Since IANAPL, reading a patent can only hurt me, since by reading
   it I could be found to willfully infringe, and none of my opinions
   about whether I'm not infringing count.  Or so I've heard.

3) This vaguely reminds me of a private sector implementation of key
   escrow and export control laws.
   "If cryptography is outlawed, on5dfjd($T#+$J$IURI#QUXuif;rEr3n#"

4) I wonder if the system could somehow be used against itself.

   The GPL has an interesting "viral" property; you play by its rules,
   you get to take advantage of the ecosystem.  Otherwise you can't.
   (legally, anyway - in practice nobody seems to sue over it)

   I wonder if you could do something similar with patents.  It'd be a
   tough sell - companies are still balking at releasing their source
   code - Android and Mac OS X both strategically avoided GPL code for
   some critical components - but maybe a big enough patent collection
   with significant advantages could form a compelling business case
   for participation in the long run.  One could grant royalty-free
   licensing to open-source projects, and pick your strategy on
   closed-source ones (license fees to fund the collection, deny
   outright, or something in between)

Good code works on most inputs; correct code works on all inputs.
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