Oracle is suing Google for allegedly copying some code that Oracle claims is its IP (based on copyright). Hmm … but programmers copy all the time. So you get comments like this
“If Oracle wins, the decision could set a legal precedent that legitimizes controlling behaviors by platform vendors - and introduces a complex and unwelcome legalism into software development,” he wrote. “Complexity and confusion would return to a world where they have largely been expunged, bringing fear, uncertainty, and doubt back into open source software development.”
Harsh words. But sadly, the legal framework that we use to think about IP is very outdated. And with so much money at stake, of course it gets abused. The solution will not come from law but from the market. As we change our notions of what is valuable in the “P” in IP, we will change our notions of what protections are needed. So you will get different types of licensing arrangements.
Twitter’s recent change in policy about patents is an example. But it is just a small step. Down the road there will be more significant re-balancing between the societal (and individual) benefits of sharing and gaining benefit from blocking sharing.
BTW, Fred Wilson posts about the Twitter “patent hack” today.