Why not patent this

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-04-20 Print this article Print

sentence?"> Speaking of the user community, it must be exponentially larger than when you first launched MySQL, 10 years ago. Widenius: Our best guess now is 6 million. Axmark: One point is, you have a university student who wont pay for anything. He sits down, plays with it, likes it, and eventually gets the enterprise to use it. [Is that one download, or how many?] But the number of bugs doesnt grow exponentially.
Widenius: And we have a much bigger team now fixing the bugs. That doesnt mean we have much more bugs than before. … [But] the new community is so ingenious, to use new software in ways you wouldnt suspect. The community [puts out a level of] effort for us to find bugs that would be impossible to find otherwise.
Axmark: Like we said in the keynote, the MySQL community [gets] all the source code, all the features. So if you have [a proprietary] application, you see a price for full text search, or for replication, and you have to pay more for it. But if everythings available as an option [as with MySQL], everyone uses it, so it all gets tested. [By] hundreds of thousands of people, instead of [hundreds or thousands of testers for proprietary software]. Click here for more on Axmark and Widenius keynote at MySQLs Users Conference. Widenius: A lot of people store e-mail in [the MySQL] database and use full text search to find it. They couldnt use that in proprietary [databases]. Axmark: In the proprietary market, you always sell to guys who can spend thousands. In open source, [you give it away to everybody]. Advanced enterprise [features] go all the way down [to the most frugal user]. Its about fixing the thousands of small things that matter to people. Obviously, thats very democratic, in the true spirit of open source. But you both go beyond democratic code distribution and believe that, basically, software patents are absurd, correct? Widenius: Weve been against software patents for more than 10 years. Axmark: I joined the League for Programming Freedom, [an organization that opposes software patents and user interface copyrights] when it was founded in the United States. Widenius: [Patents] just stall innovation. Look at an extension of patents. I dont see any difference in a software program and a recipe in a book. Its the same thing to me as a programmer. Its them saying, "Youre not allowed to write the sentence youre writing right now because somebody patented it." Why should some books be banned and some not? Just because its electronic media. I could say I should be able to patent sentences. Axmark: Yes, that would mean you get a really big mess, so then youd have to fix it. Thats one thing we like about Oracle: Theyre against patents. Check out NoSoftwarePatents.com for quotes from Larry Ellison. BlackBerry was sued for $450 million because you can transfer e-mail electronically. Something so trivial that anybody could come up with. One problem is patents, and another is what the judge says the patent is worth. Why should that technology be worth $450 million? It makes no sense. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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