Communication Ethics book part for What is Software?. (This is an automatically generated summary to avoid having huge posts on this page. Click through to read this post.)
in Communication Ethics
(Even if you are computer expert, you may want to skim this.)
In order to understand why "software patents" are wrong, I'm going to have to explain exactly what software is, and thus why it does not match with the concept of a patent. I am deeply indebted to Professor David Touretzky, who testified in front of Judge Kaplan in the DeCSS trial on this very issue, though in the context of establishing software as speech, not a patent case; what follows is an expanded and elaborated version of what he presented, with a lot drawn from Gallery of CSS Descramblers. Despite the tendency of people (including computer scientists) to lose sight of these facts, the basic ideas behind this presentation extend back to the very beginnings of computer science itself; Alan Turing's classic 1950 paper "Can Machines Think?" addressed many of these same issues.