No Software Patents?
Matthew Yglesias has been arguing against software patents lately:
Remember that, yes, stronger IP protections create larger financial incentives to innovate. But they also make it more expensive to innovate and ultimately reduce the level of competition. You can already copyright your software so people can’t just go and copy what you’ve done.
Adding a layer of patent protection on top of that makes life too difficult for programmers (who don’t know what they’re allowed to do and may not be able to afford to do it) and too comfortable for incumbents.
Actually, the primary problem with both patent and copyright protection for software is that the systems in place right now don’t really make sense for software at all. When I was in law school, I argued that Congress should create a separate intellectual property category for software altogether, because neither the patent nor copyright frameworks were appropriate or desirable. I still think that’s a pretty good idea. But barring that, it actually makes much more sense to eliminate copyright protection for software and simply use the existing patent framework. Given the nature of the industry, offering life + 70 years protection for software code just isn’t reasonable.