Every day I check to see if there is any news about a decision by the US Supreme Court on In Re Bilski. I'm sure a lot of you do too, so while we wait, here's a 30-minute movie by independent filmmaker Luca Lucarini, Patent Absurdity: how software patents broke the system, made possible by a grant from the Free Software Foundation, on how we got into patent quicksand in the US:
Patent Absurdity explores the case of software patents and the history of judicial activism that led to their rise, and the harm being done to software developers and the wider economy. The film is based on a series of interviews conducted during the Supreme Court's review of in re Bilski — a case that could have profound implications for the patenting of software. The Court's decision is due soon... You don't want to miss the movie, regardless of your views on software patents. Even if you love them, you will at least understand why software programmers almost to a man do not. It's under a Creative Commons license, so you can share it with your friends and with the world. EndSoftwarePatents is asking for help with subtitles in as many languages as possible, so that's a lovely project for the weekend, if you have the skills.
It explains how software patents came to be allowed, and it is explained by folks you've read about and trust, like Dan Ravicher, Eben Moglen, Richard Stallman, Ben Klemens, James Besson, Ciarán O'Riordan, and Mark Webbink. I think you'll enjoy it a lot. Ben uses a blackboard to explain a real patent eHarmony obtained, and it's both hilarious and memorable. Here's where you go to download it, in various levels of quality. It was made with free software, by the way, including my beloved Audacity.
Update: Here's a transcript in English for those who are deaf or
just want to read it rather than listen and watch. It's part of a project to create subtitles in various languages.