Bill Gates said some controversial things in a CNet Interview today:
Gates taking a seat in your den
CNET: In recent years, there's been a lot of people clamoring to reform and restrict intellectual-property rights. It started out with just a few people, but now there are a bunch of advocates saying, "We've got to look at patents, we've got to look at copyrights." What's driving this, and do you think intellectual-property laws need to be reformed?
Gates: No, I'd say that of the world's economies, there's more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don't think that those incentives should exist.And this debate will always be there. I'd be the first to say that the patent system can always be tuned--including the U.S. patent system. There are some goals to cap some reform elements. But the idea that the United States has led in creating companies, creating jobs, because we've had the best intellectual-property system--there's no doubt about that in my mind, and when people say they want to be the most competitive economy, they've got to have the incentive system. Intellectual property is the incentive system for the products of the future.
There is a lot of people commenting on these "communist" remarks (see: Slashdot)
My quick comment is that the difference between OpenSource/FreeSoftware etc. and communisim, is that Open source is based around voluntary sharing ie. Sharing is not required. People still need to be able to own software and sell it. We also need the ability for people to say I have already gained enough for myself out of this software, and I want to give it away now. This Practice makes economic sense, because everyone has the choice; To try to patent, and market this software as a product for people to buy. Or to share it with everyone, knowing I have benefited from my software, and hoping that the others will share their software as well.
I don't have time to go on about it but I just wanted to make the point that software patents and commercial software are actually upholding our freedom, Not stealing from us. So I am kind of backing up Gates, However I don't know anything about the proposed laws or patent systems, there is potential for these to restrict freedom.
If properly constructed though, these laws should actually increase freedom not reduce it.