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Deb Nicholson: Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks: Or Why the Future Might Curse Us

Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks: Or Why the Future Might Curse Us

Deb Nicholson

Community Outreach Director for the Open Invention Network
O’Reilly Open Source Award Winner
Founding organizer of the Seattle GNU/Linux Conference
Software Freedom Conservancy’s Evaluation Committee
Patents, copyrights and trademarks form a trio of legal tools often referred to as “intellectual property” law. While each of these tools originally grew from a desire to help new businesses and individual creators find their way to success, today these advantages are better at creating inequity than opportunity. The litigious application of patents, copyrights and trademarks has become so distorted in modern times that their usage often amounts to bullying.

In court, the larger, more monied, more experienced party disproportionately wins. Plaintiffs can use the courts to block competition, protect an aging business model, bleed money from a scrappy upstart and otherwise discourage innovation by newer or less established projects. Our modern legal tools frequently enable the consolidation of power into the hands of the already powerful.

As free software developers, we want to keep building software without the threat of expensive and/or frivolous lawsuits. Some of our best and most innovative ideas come from small, underfunded projects. Without outside help or protection, these vulnerable projects tend to lose their legal battles. In order to keep the future from cursing us for letting things get worse, we need to participate in the creation of policy. Law is often written by non-technical people, so we need to educate politicians, our fellow voters and potential jurors about how technology actually works. If they don’t understand why collaborative software development is critical and how the legal mechanisms affect it, then future generations will be right to curse us for the resulting policies.

Registration for the event is free but registering lets us know how much pizza to order.

Who: Open to the public (not just RIT Students) just be sure to RSVP.

Date: Wednesday April 12th, 4:30-6pm

Location: Student Innovation Hall

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fosstalk-patents-copyrights-trademarks-or-why-the-future-might-curse-us-tickets-33433958871

 

FOSS Talks are possible thanks to: RIT MAGIC Center & Red Hat