New free software license takes aim at patents

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The free software foundation said on Tuesday it would start adapting rules for development and use of free software by including penalties against those who patent software or use anti-piracy technology.

Free software needs to be licensed under specific rules to guarantee that it can be freely studied, copied, modified, reused, shared and redistributed. The Linux operating system kernel is one of the best known examples of free software.

The most popular rule book, the GNU General Public License (GPL) developed by Richard Stallman, was developed 14 years ago, before big Internet shops and web services.

The license needs to be adapted to a world in which e-commerce firms like Amazon.com have patented 'one click ordering' which prevents software makers from freely using such a feature in their programs, said the president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, Georg Greve.

"Software patents are clearly a menace to society and innovation. We like this to be more explicit," Greve said.

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