Copyright and Patents

In the computer industry there is a problem with software patents at the moment.  Software patents are used to block competition and stifle innovation.

Trivial ideas are allowed to be patented and something like a phone can have over 200 patents covering it.  When people ask me what programming is, the simplest way I can describe it is that its just Maths.  1's and 0's, the closest people usually come to this is algebra in secondary schools.  Maths cannot be patented but somehow software is.

The problem with this is that patents generally last for 20 years.  Which in computing terms is disproportionate.  The main supporters of patents and copyright (which is not the same as patents) is that these things create wealth and protect ideas.  Which is true but only in a small part.  Dysons idea for a new type of vacuum cleaner is great and a great example of how a patent should allow him be rewarded for that effort.

The problem is that now his idea goes from being rewarding him to allowing him to have a monopoly, which as Microsoft has shown, you don't need 20 years to do.

Copyright law is just the same, take films for example, there is a 70 year copyright on those from when the director dies:

In our modern "almost" capitalistic world, directors and producers will make back their money within a year.  Its excessive to think that a work of art would be locked up for 70 + the remaining life of its creator.

I do not think we should get rid of either copyright or patents.  However certainly we should reduce their duration, software patents should be banned, then 5 for normal patents and 20 year from the date of creation for copyright.  This will help by not creating monopolies, by making those that create and innovate to continue to do so.

When governments talk about reviews to the system, they only seem to talk about locking things up further for the good of the economy, which makes me sad:


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