The UNSW Computing Students' Society (COMPSOC) and
Baker & McKenzie Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre
at UNSW Law Faculty
hosted a free joint seminar
(one of the 2004 Cyberspace Law and Policy Series)


The Danger of Software Patents


Dr Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation

Audio recording (by John Jacobs); alternate audio tape 1, tape 2. In the free Ogg Vorbis format. Welcome by David Vaile and Beren Saunders, introduction by Dr Roger Clarke.


Thursday 14 October 2004


12:00 to 2:00 pm


The Scientia building, Tyree room
UNSW upper campus, Kensington Sydney



Richard Stallman will explain how software patents obstruct software development. Software patents are patents that cover software ideas, and should perhaps be called 'software idea patents'. They restrict the development of software, so that every design decision brings the developer or programmer a risk of getting sued. Patents in other fields restrict factories, but software patents restrict every computer user. Economic research shows that they even retard progress.

This is particularly relevant in the light of the recent A-US 'Free Trade Agreement', which included, especially in Chapter 17 on Intellectual Property, a number of provisions facilitating the use of such patents.

See also items on related topics:

  • the resource page from the centre's symposium on the FTA, for recent commentary and submissions on the FTA, patents and copyright.
  • our forthcoming 'Unlocking IP' conference, for discussion of free and open source software licensing (Nov 18-19 UNSW).
  • our joint forum on Software Patents, November 3.
  About the speaker:

Richard Stallman is the famous pioneering author of much of the software in GNU/Linux, the founder of the Free Software Foundation and the originator of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

While the GPL and the 'CopyLeft' principle was an inspiration for other 'Open Source' software licences now also in wide use, the original emphasizes the importance of preserving with the work a number of important freedoms to use the work, not merely requiring open access to the source code.




Closed. The venue was at capacity.

Anyone who missed out could attend the extra ACS session in Sydney at UTS on Friday 15th 2-4pm. (Lecture Theatre CB02.04.29, University of Technology, Building 2 of the UTS Tower Building, located on Broadway, City Campus, $25 or $15.)

Richard Stallman was assisted to get to Australia by the organisers of ZDNet's developer conference (now deferred). ACS also arranged his appearances in ACT, Qld and Vic.

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