Re: Computer prior art

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From: Adam L. Beberg (
Date: Sun Mar 12 2000 - 14:38:51 PST

On Sun, 12 Mar 2000, Tim O'Reilly wrote:

> Well, for starters, the ACM has made this very hard to use, with charges
> for retrieved information. I "joined" as a non-member, but still had my
> search of abstracts denied. Maybe I'm just not figuring out how to work
> the maze, but this sure isn't an "internet era" public resource such as
> I had in mind, as currently constructed.It would be great if the ACM
> made this database freely searchable by the public (including the PTO)
> rather than trying to extract revenue from it. And then they could turn
> loose some hackers on building a better interface. It may be that the
> ACM feels that they'd need some kind of underwriting to free this up,
> and if so, I'd be interested in knowing just how much money they think
> they'd need.

It is in fact a "geek friendly" interface, but considering the member
base of ACM, this is probably by design. According to the latest
MemberNet newsletter, all ACM content including abstracts back to 1947
should be online by mid 2001 with most abstracts in the next several
months. ACM is run by 99.9% volunteers, so any hacker that shows up is
already welcome to help if they can, but things take time.

Unfortunately ACM cannot use the "lose money on everything and make it
up in volume" model of the internet era. Digital library subscriptions
represent a significant portion of ACM's income, but they are by no
means rolling in money. While it would be nice if the ACM library was
free, I'm not sure it should be. Much like an O'Reilly text, if you can
understand what's in it, you probably make enough that the cost is
trivial [and it's searchable].

> It would be ideal if patents-pending were put up for comment before
> they were issued, but I bet this would be useful even after the
> patents were issued, since knowing that there would be public
> comment and scrutiny might well raise the bar on obvious or
> non-novel patents.

This is the most critical goal. If we can get the laws changed to allow
and enforce a period of public comment before [and after] patents are
issued then all the other problems with the patent system disappear.

The other issues are far more fun to solve and work on because we are
geeks of one kind or another, but they will not solve the problem. Only
head to head battle with the lawmakers will make a difference.

So... what is the going rate for a yes vote by house+senate+president,
and can we raise enough to counter the bid by patent holders?

- Adam L. Beberg
  The Cosm Project - -

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