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Re: [pgsql-www] Software Patents

From: Thomas Hallgren <thhal(at)mailblocks(dot)com>
To: elein <elein(at)varlena(dot)com>
Cc: Christopher Browne <cbbrowne(at)acm(dot)org>,pgsql-advocacy(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: [pgsql-www] Software Patents
Date: 2005-04-26 06:52:54
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Lists: pgsql-advocacypgsql-www
elein wrote:
>>I think at the bare minimum, I think that we need to have a statement on 
>>the web site (more than just a news item) explaining the whole ARC to 2Q 
>>issue and why we didn't go and ask IBM's permission first.  This is a 
>>testimonial against software patents and is a stand against them, but 
>>more subtle than many here might want to see.
> There is an article covering the ARC saga on General Bits Issue #96.
Great article!

There are some things to consider in this story. If a good conclusive 
statement concerning them can be added to the "subtle" version, I'm happy.

The first one is: Neil discovered that IBM had applied for the ARC 
patent. How much efforts should the community spend on finding other 
applications for (or already approved) software patents that the 
PostgreSQL code might infringe upon? How many patent offices should be 

Secondly: the next time this happens it is unlikely that we will be so 
lucky as to find a slot in replacement that performs equally well (ok, I 
know it was a bit more work than that and that performance actually 
improved, but you know what I mean). What do we do then? What would have 
happened if we'd discover that Oracle had a patent pending on the LRU-2Q 
system or if the ARC patent had that variant covered as well?

Thirdly: ARC was chosen for good reasons after some discussions in the 
community. Choosing the best of breed solution for each problem in the 
PostgreSQL database is great. The implications of software patents is 
that we no longer can do that. Over time, most really good solutions 
will be patented. This will undoubtedly lead to that PostgreSQL becomes 
a second-grade database. Is that acceptable?

And lastly: A summary where we conclude how many hours that was spend on 
the whole issue. Not just writing code but also discussions, articles, 
and other worries. Every hour spent on this was an hour not spent on 
innovative development.

Thomas Hallgren

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