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Re: The ethics of software emulations?

awesome subject! really enjoying it keep educating us!


--- On Sat, 9/27/08, Jeffrey Larson <jeff@zonemobius.com> wrote:

> From: Jeffrey Larson <jeff@zonemobius.com>
> Subject: Re: The ethics of software emulations?
> To: Loopers-Delight@loopers-delight.com
> Date: Saturday, September 27, 2008, 3:53 PM
> As promised, I will now subject everyone to some thoughts on
> intellectual property.
> Keep your tray tables in their upright and locked
> position.....
> Hardware in general and analog hardware in particular
> requires a lot
> of R&D to design and manufacture.  There aren't
> always obvious ways to
> do things.  Circuit design, component selection,
> construction
> materials, etc. are often arrived at through trial and
> error.  The
> patent system was intended to protect inventors so they
> could recoup
> their R&D investment, otherwise no one would be
> inclined to invent
> anything.
> Software requires R&D as well, but it is essentially
> free to make and
> distribute.  The advent of digital audio processing removed
> the huge
> amount of R&D required for analog circuit design. 
> Essentially anyone
> with a PC and free time can make digital audio software. 
> In marketing
> terms the "barriers to entry" are much lower. 
> This means there
> will be more competition and as a result the prices will be
> lower.
> Software businesses of course want to make money, so one
> thing that
> happened early on was to allow copyrights to apply to
> software.  This
> made it illegal for someone to make direct copies of code
> in a ROM or
> to take the source code for a product, recompile it, slap
> on a
> different UI and call it your own.  I have no problem with
> copyrights.
> The problem though is that with most software, it is fairly
> easy to
> write different code that achieves an identical end result.
>  I don't
> need to see the source code for Word for example to know
> how to write
> a word processor.  Sure, it would take a lot of time but
> there's
> nothing in Word that makes me smack my head and go
> "damn! I wonder how
> they do that?".  Like any business, software companies
> aren't fond
> of competition and since copyrights weren't a very
> effective weapon
> they turned to the patent system.
> Patents were originally intended to protect the
> "process" by which you
> achieved an end result.  Everyone wanted to get seeds out
> of cotton so
> Eli invented a novel device to accomplish that.  People
> were free to
> invent different devices to achieve the same end result,
> just not one
> that operated exactly like Eli's.
> The patent model doesn't apply well to software
> however.  Since
> copyrights don't protect the end result, many software
> patents are
> claiming ownership of concepts rather than processes. It is
> like
> someone claiming they own the mere concept of
> "seedless cotton" rather
> than a device to produce seedless cotton.
> Other patents are for trivial algorithms.  They'll be
> dressed up in
> language like "system and method for attenuation in
> digital audio
> streams" and what it boils down to is multiplying two
> floating point
> numbers together.  Patents like this are dangerous because
> they end up
> stifling invention rather than promoting it.
> Now let's bring this into the looping world.  Loopers
> implement
> concepts like "multiply" or "start overdub
> when I push a button and
> stop when I release".  What is the invention here? 
> People sit down in
> front loopers every day and think "if only I could
> repeat this four
> times" or "if only I could mute the backing loop
> and have it start
> automatically on the next bar".  They aren't
> inventing anything, they
> are defining concepts.  There are millions of ways to
> implement those
> concepts, should someone be allowed to claim ownership of
> all of them?
> I admire the EDP team's ability to select and implement
> a large and
> powerful set of looping concepts, and their tenacity in
> bringing it to
> the market as hardware.  That was a monumental task and
> maybe they
> deserved more than they received.  But I simply do not
> believe you can
> claim ownership of mere concepts.
> Imagine what would happen if Microsoft claimed they owned
> the concept
> of web browsing and no one else could make a browser.  I
> can assure
> you web browsers are more complex than either the EDP or
> Mobius, and
> they all do basically the same thing.
> Ownership of mere concepts rather than implementations of
> concepts is
> a very dangerous thing.  You may not be aware of it in the
> relatively
> small world of music software, but in the enterprise
> software world
> where I work it is epidemic.  Pretty soon Microsoft, Apple,
> IBM, and
> Oracle are going to hold the patents for just about
> anything that you
> can do on a computer, and trust me that includes digital
> audio
> processing.  Now I'm sure these altruistic corporations
> would never
> EVER abuse these patents to harrass small companies trying
> to
> innovate.  Because that would be unethical.
> Jeff