Baruch Even's Blog

I have no subtitle...

Licensing, Patents and in between...
27th April 2005

We have finally got the approval to release H-TCP under the GNU GPL, it's been a long time and quite a bit of work to convince the university administration that it is ok to do so and that they will come to no harm by approving it. So I've submitted a note about that to LKML, only to get back a message that we need an explicit patent license for the pending patent. That means another long wait, and more dealings with the bureaucracy to get that sorted.

The problem begins with the way research is funded, you always have some strings attached. You need to show later in some review how good your research is and the fruitful results it brought humanity. Only that everyone is just so damn busy to really understand the results that they prefer to see more "tangible" results, such as patents, articles and such. You have some new code for Linux Kernel? We care not about it, we prefer an almost useless patent that is unlikely to bring any profit over real benefits to humanity.

And so you have a patent, except that you don't own it. The university does. So in order to allow others to use your invention, you need to ask someone (more often than not, more than one person) for permission to release your work for the general good. It sucks.

Basically the administrations that run the universities have lost sight of the real purpose of universities and are just looking at everything through the financial reports. No wonder RMS quit MIT to do his Free Software, he'd probably still be fighting with the administration to get a single program released with sources.

On some happier note

On the suggestion of David Miller I've contacted Diane Peters from OSDL to help us understand what we need to provide so we won't stumble through the maze like blind folks. She had agreed to help which is great, so we are trying to organise the meeting with her to get the information and then we'll (hopefully) be able to sort it all out.

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