[thelist] GNU / GPL

Luther, Ron Ron.Luther at hp.com
Fri Oct 26 07:40:20 CDT 2007

Joel D Canfield asked:

>>Much ado about nothing, methinks.

Hi Joel,

At risk of agreeing with Shawn (Hi Shawn!) I think this is an "it
depends" situation.

>>"If you want to think clearly about the issues raised by patents, 
>>or copyrights, or trademarks, the first step is to forget the 
>>idea of lumping them together, and treat them as separate topics."

The degree to which the differences between objects is important
depends, very much I think, on the context in which you are considering
those objects.

>>Is it inaccurate, then, to refer to fiction writing, painting, musical
composition, et al, as 'the arts' ?

Sometimes.  I think a better example may be "snow".  Inuit tribes may
have 20 different word to distinguish fine gradations between different
types of snow.  We don't have those words, not because those differences
don't exist, but because those differences are not as important to us.
In this case we *do* have different words for patents and things.
Therefore, some of the aspects of those differences have been deemed to
be important.

But instead of that good example I will use a crappy one involving
'stringed instruments'.  ;-)  Someone might play bass guitar.  Bass
guitar is a stringed instrument.  If I hand that person a sitar (which
is also a stringed instrument) and say "lay down a bass line to
'Roundabout' so we can rock out" ... I may very likely (and in this case
deservedly) take one upside the head!

Patents, copyrights, and trademarks may be 'related' like guitars,
banjos, and Chapman sticks.  So they _can_ be discussed collectively as
long as you keep to aspects where they are similar.  But they are not
the same things so - depending on the context of what aspect of them you
are talking about - lumping them together may cause little harm or may
cause great harm.

A person familiar with fiction writing and musical composition and
painting has some competence in discussing them collectively because
they understand their differences.  This may be a similar situation
where one needs to understand patents, copywrites, and the like
individually in order to be able to appreciate the similarities and
differences between them.


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