Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I thought software patents were bad.

Now someone wants to pantent storylines/plots. Copyright on a particular story is not enough anymore, it seems. Now somebody wants to patent an abstract story line and sit back and collect royalties if someone writes an actual story that is deemed to match the patented plot. "The connection between patent law and unique fictional storylines necessary to conceive of Storyline Patents may never have been made if Andrew Knight did not occasionally dabble in fiction. As far back as high school, he authored various works of short fiction that were published in national magazines, and that landed him first place in a statewide fiction writing competition and a $24,000 scholarship to study writing at the University of Tampa. (Ultimately he decided on the University of Florida instead.) Since then, he has conceived of a variety of unique fictional storylines. Recognizing that fierce competition for publication and financial reward focused on the quality of storytelling, as opposed to the quality of the underlying storyline itself, and further recognizing that even the worlds most skilled storytellers (of which he is clearly not) rarely turn a profit, his unique fictional storylines have matured into pending patent applications instead of novels or screenplays. He thus seeks reward on the true value of his innovations -- the underlying storylines -- instead of forced, sub-par expressions of these underlying storylines." (From The storyline that is the subject of his first patent application is "a story involving an ambitious high school student who applies for entrance to MIT and prays to remain sleeping until the acceptance letter comes, which doesn't happen for another 30 years." (from Richard Stallman used "plot patents" as an absurd example to try to illustrate why programmers are so frustrated by software patents in this Guardian column. Now someone is trying to make it a reality.