Citations

Quotes on Software Patents by the League for Programming Freedom (variant)

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.
That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.
Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from any body.
--- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac McPherson, 1813, in Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 6, H.A. Washington, Ed., 1854, pp. 180-181, and as cited in Kock & Peden

Indeed, one of my major complaints about the computer field is that whereas Newton could say, "If I have seen a little farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants," I am forced to say, "Today we stand on each other's feet." Perhaps the central problem we face in all of computer science is how we are to get to the situation where we build on top of the work of others rather than redoing so much of it in a trivially different way. Science is supposed to be cumulative, not almost endless duplication of the same kind of things.
R. W. Hamming -- One Man's View of Computer Science -- 1968 Turing Award Lecture

Chacun en a sa part et tous l'ont tout entier !
Victor Hugo - Les feuilles d'automne.

'Who owns my polio vaccine? The people! Could you patent the sun?'
Jonas Salk (1914-1995), who developed the first effective anti-polio vaccine [soource: NewsScan Daily: October 20, 1999]

Auch wenn ich untergehe, lasst meine Bilder nicht sterben, zeigt sie den Menschen.
[ Même si je disparais, ne laissez pas mes peintures mourir, montrez-les aux hommes. ]
Felix Nussbaum, mort à Auschwitz en 1944. (Felix Nussbaum - Leben und Werk)

The right to search for truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.
[ Le droit de chercher la vérité implique aussi un devoir; on ne doit rien cacher de ce que l'on a reconnu comme vrai. ]
Albert Einstein, quote engraved on a memorial outside the National Academy of Sciences offices in Washington.

Tout bien, toute entreprise, dont l'exploitation a ou acquiert les caractères d'un service public national ou d'un monopole de fait, doit devenir la propriété de la collectivité.
[ Any property, any enterprise, the running of which has or acquires the character of a national public service or of a de facto monopoly, must become public property. ]
Préambule de la Constitution du 27 octobre 1946 de la République Française, repris dans la Constitution de 1958

The Congress shall have Power [...] To promote Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries
[ Le Congrès aura Pouvoir [...] De promouvoir le Progrès de la Science et des Arts utiles, en assurant pour une Durée limitée aux Auteurs et aux Inventeurs les droits exclusifs sur leurs Écrits et Découvertes respectifs. ]
United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause8 - September 17th, 1787.

"If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete stand-still today. The solution ... is patent exchanges ... and patenting as much as we can. ... {A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high: Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.}"
[ "si les gens avaient compris comment se faire accorder des brevets quand la plupart des idées actuelles furent inventées, l'industrie serait aujourd'hui totalement bloquée. La solution ... est l'échange de brevets ... et de breveter autant que nous le pouvons... {Une future jeune pousse dépourvue de brevets sera contrainte de payer le prix que les géants lui imposeront. Ce prix pourrait être élevé : Les sociétés existantes ont un intérêt à exclure de futurs concurrents.}" ]
William Gates III, Challenges and Strategy memo, May 16 1991, reproduced in "The Patent Wars", Fred Warshofsky, 170-71 (NY: Wiley 1994).
Note: Though sometimes presented with the quote, the part between braces does not appear in the copy I have of the memo. -- La partie entre accolades ne semble pas faire partie du document original, bien qu'elle soit souvent associée à cette citation.

La confusion est entre "des programmes libres peuvent exister" et "un programme libre n'aura pas de problème à exister".  Pour decider si le SIDA ou les brevets sont un problème, il faut compter les morts, pas les vivants.
[ The confusion is between "free programs may exist" and "a free program will have no problem existing". To decide whether AIDS or patents are a problem, one should count the deads, not the survivors.]
Richard M. Stallman, courriel à membres@aful.org, 16 août 2005 (original en français).

Gates shed some light on his own hard-nosed business philosophy. "Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don't pay for the software," he said. "Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."
[Gates éclaira sa propre philosophie brutale des affaires. "Bien qu'environ 3 millions d'ordinateurs soient vendus chaque année en Chine, en fait les gens ne paient pas pour le logiciel," dit il. "Un jour ils le feront, pourtant. Si tant est qu'ils le volent, nous voulons qu'ils volent le notre. Comme cela ils seront accoutumés, et alors nous trouverons bien un moyen de nous faire payer au cours de la prochaine décennie."]
Conference at the University of Washington, reported by Corey Grice and Sandeep Junnarkar in CNET News "Gates, Buffett a bit bearish" *, July 2, 1998.

"[The Internet] is the dynamic engine that is driving our economy today and we must keep that open"
Secretary of Commerce William H. Daley [New York Times, 16 Feb 2000]

We reject kings, presidents, and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code.
Dave Clark, A Cloudy Crystal Ball/Apocalypse Now, July 1992, 24th annual IETF conference.

We now see the potential for Linux to do for applications what the internet did for networks.
Wladawsky- Berger (IBM), June 2000.

The relentless march of intellectual property rights needs to be stopped and questioned.
[ La progression inexorable des droits de propriété intellectuelle doit être arretée et remise en cause. ]
UNDP, United Nations Development Program, "Human Development Report 1999", Oxford University Press, 1999. http://www.undp.org/hdro/index2.html

KNOWLEDGE IS LIKE LIGHT. Weightless and intangible, it can easily travel the world, enlightening the lives of people everywhere. Yet billions of people still live in the darkness of poverty - unnecessarily.
[ Le savoir est comme la lumière. Intangible et immatériel, il peut se propager aisément à travers le monde, illuminant l'existence de chaque individu, où qu'il se trouve. Et pourtant des milliards de gens vivent toujours dans les ténèbres de la pauvreté - sans nécessité. ]
The World Bank, "World Development Report 1998/99 - Knowledge for Development - Summary", Washington, 1998/99.

... as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.
[ ... comme nous tirons grand bénéfice des inventions d'autrui, nous devrions être heureux de toute occasion de faire bénéficier les autres de nos propres inventions; et nous devrions faire cela librement et généreusement. - retraduit de l'anglais ]
The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, LL.D (known as The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin), chapter X, London, J. Parsons, 1793.
Mémoires de la Vie Privée de Benjamin Franklin, écrits par lui-même. Paris, Buisson, 1791.
(His reply when refusing a patent for his invention of a new stove)

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
[ Ceux qui peuvent abandonner une liberté essentielle en échange d'un peu de sécurité immédiate ne méritent ni liberté ni sécurité. ]
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.
[ La liberté d'une démocratie n'est pas en sécurité si le peuple tolère la croissance du pouvoir privé au point que sa puissance dépasse celle de l'état démocratique lui-même. Cela, dans son essence, est le Fascisme - l'accaparement du gouvernement par un individu, par un groupe, ou par tout pouvoir de contrôle privé. ]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Message proposing the "Standard Oil" Monopoly Investigation, 1938.

Whenever there is a conflict between human rights and property rights, human rights must prevail.
[ Quand il y a conflit entre les droits de l'homme et les droits de propriété, les droits de l'homme doivent prévaloir. ]
Abraham Lincoln, Quoted in Congressional Record, May 12, 1944.

La maîtrise des technologies n'est pas séparable de la maîtrise des contenus.
Catherine Trautmann, Ministre de la Culture, Discours au MILIA de Cannes, 8 février 1998.

On entend par standard ouvert tout protocole de communication, d'interconnexion ou d'échange et tout format de données interopérable et dont les spécifications techniques sont publiques et sans restriction d'accès ni de mise en oeuvre.
Loi du 21 juin 2004 pour la confiance dans l'économie numérique, Titre Ier, Chapitre Ier, Article 4.

Le businessman : Quand tu trouves un diamant qui n'est à personne, il est à toi. Quand tu trouves une île qui n'est à personne, elle est à toi. Quand tu as une idée le premier, tu la fais breveter: elle est à toi. Et moi je possède les étoiles, puisque jamais personne avant moi n'a songé à les posséder.
Le petit prince : Moi, je possède une fleur que j'arrose tous les jours. Je possède trois volcans que je ramone toutes les semaines. Car je ramone aussi celui qui est éteint. On ne sait jamais. C'est utile à mes volcans, et c'est aussi utile à ma fleur, que je les possède. Mais tu n'es pas utile aux étoiles...
The businessman: When you find a diamond that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you discover an island that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you get an idea before any one else, you take out a patent on it: it is yours. So with me: I own the stars, because nobody else before me ever thought of owning them.
  The little prince: I myself own a flower, which I water every day. I own three volcanoes, which I clean out every week (for I also clean out the one that is extinct; one never knows). It is of some use to my volcanoes, and it is of some use to my flower, that I own them. But you are of no use to the stars... ]
Le petit prince / The little prince, ch. 13, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

When counting the blessings of the Internet we should remember that neither Vinton Cerf nor CERN patented the Internet.
Commissioner Busquin, OECD Global Research Village Conference, Amsterdam, December 2000.

The laws of physics seem to change when you enter a new environment, such as the gravity field of the moon -- or the Internet and its easy replication of content. In this issue, we argue that the newly revealed physics of information transfer on the net will change the economics and perhaps ultimately the laws governing the creation and dissemination of intellectual property ... call it content to avoid the presumption of ownership.
Intellectual Property on the Net, Esther Dyson, Release 1.0, 12-94, Esther Dyson 's Monthly Report, 28 December 1994

... the lesser nations of the earth become colonies not of governments but of corporations ...
[ Les petites nations du globe ne sont plus colonisées par des gouvernements, mais par des sociétés. ]
Lewis Lapham, La montagne des Vanités - Les secrets de Davos, page 28, Maisonneuve et Larose, 2000, http://www.maisonneuve-et-larose.com, 15 rue Victor-Cousin, 75005, Paris (France), http://vhf.msh-paris.fr/editeurs/ml/ml.html
The Agony of Mammon, Verso Books (New York); ISBN: 1859847102, 1998, traduction Marie-José Capelle (2000)

Although in many ways bountiful and in some ways benign, the colossl mechanism that generates the wealth of nations (a.k.a. "The Global Economy," "Moloch," and "The Invisible Hand") lacks the capacity for human speech or conscious thought, a failing that troubles those of its upper servants who wish to believe that it is they who control the machine and not the machine that controls them. Their amour propre forbids them from picturing themselves mere stokers heaving computer printouts and Montblanc pens (or shopping malls md movie studios and Mexicans) into a blind, remorseless furnace. They seek a more gracious portraiture (as masters of markets, captains of commercial empire), and so, every year in late January, they make their optimistic way from the low-lying places of the earth to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where, high up on the same alp that provided Thomas Mann with the setting for The Magic Mountain, they brood upon the mysteries of capitalist creation.
[ Tous les ans, vers la fin janvier, ils quittent les basses terres de notre planète pour les cimes baignées d'optimisme du Forum économique mondial de Davos en Suisse. Et là, sur les hauteurs de ce sommet qui a fourni à Thomas Mann le cadre de la Montagne magique, ils méditent sur les mystères de la création capitaliste. "Ils" ? Les chefs mécaniciens de cette colossale machinerie - baptisée "l'économie mondialisée", "Moloch" ou "Dame Fortune" - qui engendre la richesse des Nations. Sans doute est-elle, à bien des égards, source de libéralités, voire de stabilité, elle n'en est pas moins dépourvue des principales facultés humaines, parler et réfléchir. Les chefs mécaniciens le savent, et parfois même cette évidence les préoccupe, mais, enflés d'amour propre, ils se plaisent à penser qu'ils gardent la maîtrise de leur machinerie et que ce n'est point elle qui les domine. Ils ne veulent pas se voir tels qu'ils sont, de simples factotums qui entretiennent la chauffe d'une fournaise aveugle et impitoyable. Et leur désir d'exister sous un jour plus glorieux - comme opérateurs économiques ou capitaines d'industrie - est si grand, qu'ils gravissent tous les ans les pentes de Davos. ]
Lewis Lapham, La montagne des Vanités - Les secrets de Davos, page 5 (début), Maisonneuve et Larose, 2000, http://www.maisonneuve-et-larose.com, 15 rue Victor-Cousin, 75005, Paris (France), http://vhf.msh-paris.fr/editeurs/ml/ml.html
The Agony of Mammon, Verso Books (New York); ISBN: 1859847102, 1998, traduction Marie-José Capelle (2000)

The Net interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it.
John Gilmore, cited in many articles, such as:
Foucault In Cyberspace by James Boyle, 1997.
Why the Internet is Good - Community governance that works well, Berkman Center Working Draft.

... partage des connaissances par le don des progrès et non le paiement des brevets ...
Che Guevara, Alger, 24 février 1965.
cité dans "Les chroniques de l'histoire : Che Guevara", éditions Chroniques distribuées par Hachette.

Paroles d'Alcove

 

. . . and outrageous statements

"We want to build picket fences around the technologies that we think are most important for the future."
Jeff George, Vice President, Intellectual Property and Standards, AT&T. Abstract of presentation (in Technology Review), April 13th, 2000, MIT.

Intellectual property crime [...] can be linked to the deadliest forms of organised crime.
Mr. Anthony Murphy, Director of Copyright at the UK Patent Office, Keynote address at the AGM of the Publishers Association, April 10 2001. Reported in a UKPO press release.

A given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. [...] I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City.
[ Une pollution donnée devrait être exportée dans le pays où elle coûte le moins, c'est-à-dire celui ayant les plus bas salaires. [...] J'ai toujours pensé que les pays sous-peuplés d'Afrique sont largement SOUS-pollués. La qualité de l'air y est d'un niveau inutilement élevé par rapport à Los Angeles ou Mexico. ]
Lawrence H. Summers, Chief economist for the World Bank, Memo, December 12, 1991. (appointed the U.S. Treasury Secretary on July 2nd, 1999, named president of Harvard University on March 11, 2001.

CBS Reporter Lesley Stahl (speaking of post-war sanctions against Iraq): We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And - and you know, is the price worth it?
Madeleine Albright (at that time, US Ambassador to the UN): I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it.
The exchange occurred in a "60 Minutes" segment, "Punishing Saddam" (airdate May 12, 1996) - source: uncoverIraq

Rather than form a federation with Microsoft and work with what we had already created, there was this notion that the world should be offered an alternative.
Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief technical officer speaking at the 2002 World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT), reported in Microsoft's Mundie slams Liberty at WCIT, by Jeanne-Vida Douglas, ZDNet Australia, February 28, 2002.

. . . and more

I wanted to see exotic Vietnam, the jewel of Southeast Asia. I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture and ... kill them. I wanted to be the first kid on my block to get a confirmed kill.
Joker in Full Metal Jacket, film by Stanley Kubrick, 1987.