Sunday, July 31, 2005

What do software patents have to do with knitting?

Not much activity here. My blogging energy has been spent

I'm sure Randall Stross's article in today's New York Times will get plenty of play in tech blogs, but the knitters probably don't care. But knitters have an understanding of copyright that supports Stross's point. He argues in Why Bill Gates Wants 3,000 New Patents (registration required) that software patents should be abolished, and software makers should be protected by copyright alone. Microsoft should only be able to copyright Word and Excel; they should never be given patents on word processing or spreadsheets. (Simplistic example, obviously, but analogous to some of the concepts Microsoft has filed patents for this summer).

As knitters, we enjoy a great deal of design freedom because an individual cannot copyright a technique or method: only the words describing the method. Imagine if someone filed for and was given a patent for a technique: no one else would be able to use that concept in their own patterns. Obviously, no patent is ever going to be granted for knitting concepts (cabling, ribbing, intarsia) or techniques (picking, throwing) -- even for innovations like "magic loop."

Knitting: the Open Source Craft.

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