Criminal Charges against users of software that infringes on Intellectual Property?



According to cnet news. A new proposed EU law could allow criminal charges and jail time for the bosses of businesses that run software that infringes on someones Intellictual Property. SCO in the last couple of years has brought civil charges against businesses using linux claiming that linux violates their (SCO’s) IP. (Something which as of yet has not been proven.) A law like this could put doubts in peoples minds about using Open Source software (as the article is titled…. “EU Plan could put open sourcers in court”).


The proposal has not been approved. Some say it’s unlikely to see businesses pursue this kind of criminal charges against software users for fear of bad publicity. I see this concept though as a bad precedent. Let me see if I can give an example by analogy. Let’s say you see a neat and innovative shelf out in the world. It fits into corners neatly or something. You think it’s a neat idea (it’s patented of course), but decide not to buy because you think you can make something fairly close. You go home and you make something like it, but for your own personal use. You make several even. My understanding of where the law has been up until now, is that if you seel it that’s when problems arise. Frankly that’s the way it should be, steal and SELL someone else’s idea and you get into trouble. IP with software is a murkier issue it seems, but going after users of software is just a bad idea all the way around. It opens a precedent that the homebrew community (with regard to most any do-it-yourself make something like a ______ for your own use) wouldn’t like the impact of.

Here’s a novel idea. How about, if you think your software IP has been stolen, take it up with the group that’s putting the software out, PROVE the paper chain of how it got stolen and deal with it that way. On the other side of things, IP and patenting needs some major reform. I’ve seen too many laughable patents approved. (Let’s see, I’ll patent a method for presenting another page to display in response to a mouse click. Maybe I’ll call it a hyperlink, then I’ll sue anyone else making use of it without licensing it from me.) I’m afraid without major COMMON SENSE reform of patenting we’re going to be headed for a mess much worse than we see today.

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