<CT> Intellectual property and the public interest.

  • From: Alan Grimes <alangrimes@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: calmira_tips@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 22:51:53 -0500


(I begin all of my essay type pieces with 'om.)

When I own a piece of land I am (ideally) given free reign over it
within the limits of comon law. Ofcourse the Zoning board would disagree
with me but then I'm a bit of a rebel. 

When I write a story, such as Digital World (published on my website).
I can claim a copyright on it. 

Copyright Alan Grimes 1999

This copyright would last for two years untill it natually expires or I
submit it to the copyright office at the Library of Congress where it
will remain in my posession for a rediculously long period after my
demise. (which I hope never happens but that's a sperate essay). I chose
to publish it without a copyright and therefore the story is presently
in the public domain. 

That is it is like the town commons. Owned by nobody but technicaly by
the state. Yes I know the idea of a town commons is a bit european. The
closest I would say is a centeral park in a city such as the 'mall' in
washington DC. (An open grassy area used for special events between the
monuments and museums.) 

The other brand of intellectual property is the patent. The patent is
provided for in the constitution. It is administered by the patent and
trademark office which is over in arlington. The patent gives an
inventor the exclusive right to market his invention for a period of 20

Most countries don't allow patents on software. YUCK!!! =P

Well what we are discussing here isn't so much a patent or even a
copyright issue but rather that of a Trade Secret. We do not care about
their coprights or their patents, not even their source code. What we
need is the definitive specification (and reprints of the old
programmer's kits). 

Good companies such as Intel will give you manuals and specifications
for the asking. I didn't pay a single cent for the DPMI 1.0 manual I was
talking about earlier. Its just a spiral-bound printout. =)

But lets look at my land again. Lets say that there was a mountain range
between Columbus and Dayton OH and my property included the only pass
through the mountain. Otherwise travelers would have to go hundreds of
miles out of their way. If I just decided to sit on it the government
would rightfully use "eminent domain" to force me to sell my land so
that they could build a road on it for the public interest. This was
done many times in the construction of the interstate highway system. 

This system has also been abused by over-zealous mayors to oust small
businesses from properties in favor of special interests, or to create a
more politicaly favorable immage for an area when one of the major
party's political conventions come to town or a specail media event such
as the olympics. Anyway that's a libertarian issue. ( www.lp.org )

Lets say I owned my land and, for my own convenience, built and
maintained the said road on it. Since the road was so useful I let
trafic go through it and enjoy it for twenty years, never closing it.
There is a law that I don't fully understand that would declare my
property a "public thouroughfare" and I would loose my right to close
it. =P

Anyway what I am saying is that sometimes there is a public interest
that supercedes normal property rights. And even before seeking to
nullify Microsoft's interest of any of their products. (which I will
insist elsewhere should be more accurately called *services*.)

My argument is for the opening of the specification to older windows
'operating systems' to public inspection for the common good. 

My only desire is for a set of books through which I can engineer
'patches' to my windows 'product' and therefore avoid the neccessity of
using later products that are only available at a greater price and
under a more restrictive *LICENCE*. (puke). 

I do not accept Microsoft's services. I want my own software. Linux
*SHOULD* kiss my butt, but it doesn't so I don't consider it worth my
time. ARGH!!

Now that Microsoft's Monopoly position in the marketplace has been
recognised by the courts it should now be possible to make an argument
based on this fact that since:

1. microsoft D0min8s the market.
2. Computers are vital to commerce.
3. Microsoft's crap is vital to computers, and there is no real
alternative due to their domination of the market. =(
There is a public interest in the function of the windows operating
system and therefore a justification for the courts to compel microsoft
to lift the veils of trade secrecy from at least their oldest currently
viable 'products'. Which means DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.11.

I do not wish to deny Microsoft access to its markets or dictate how it
should develop tomorrow's products but rather return CHOICE to the
marketplace and power to the consumer. That is the power to say NO to
restrictive product licencing.

When DOS came out it was so simple that competitors succeded in
delivering viable alternatives, See DrDos, and other companies such as
IBM had the documents that I seek with respect to DOS, and came out with
alternatives. See my favorite OS in the world, PC-DOS. =)

Microsoft eventually crushed, destroyed, or superceded all these
competitors. They even paid out 150million to Caldera for crushing
DR-DOS. :)

That's now history. Microsoft has apologised for crossing the line but
now it must be reigned back into line. These are the digital commons.
We must claim them. 

Either that or pay me $10,000,000 to develop my own insane system. ;)

People who work on computers use linux; People who work on life use
Macintosh =)
http://users.erols.com/alangrimes/  <my website.
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