|by Flemming Funch|
I received an invitation from Peter de Jager to join with other futurists in a Global Future Forum, organized by the Unisys company. I strongly declined. Basically because Unisys is on my list of greedy, destructive, anti-social companies. In brief because they've tried very hard to get license fees from anybody who's using GIF pictures. After the Internet had caught on as a big phenomenon, and everybody were using GIF pictures in their webpages, Unisys showed up and claimed a patent on a compression algorithm used in GIF files. They of course didn't mention anything when GIF was originally chosen on the basis that it seemed to be free to use. At any rate, a number of open source software efforts either had to be halted, or GIF support was removed from some of the key software libraries used on the Internet. Simply because they were being developed for free, and given away, and the developers couldn't afford the exorbitant licenses Unisys was asking for. That has personally as a programmer cost me many hours of grief and wasted work. Here are some links about the Burn all GIFs! movement, and about the evils of software patents, and . Unisys has later moderated their position somewhat, but the damage is mostly done, and the licensing terms are still not compatible with open source software.