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Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of law, culture, technology, and politics. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Peter Junger, encryption law warrior, R.I.P.

I just learned from Case Western's law school that Peter Junger died at 
73 last week. The Plain Dealer's obituary is here:

I first encountered Peter during his courageous First Amendment lawsuit 
against the federal government over the constitutionality of 
anti-encryption regulations. When I taught a class at Case Western a few 
years ago, Peter was kind enough to be a guest lecturer.

When CyberPatrol made legal threats over software that decrypted the 
"secret" blacklist, Peter said on Politech that the software was 
"seriously useful" and "educational" and that the DMCA was a threat:

In addition to being a law professor (and, more recently, a professor of 
law emeritus), Peter was an active blogger, Buddhist, and system 
administrator. I recall Peter telling me he gave up his office (which he 
would be otherwise be entitled to) at the law school in exchange for 
being able to colocate his samsara.law.cwru.edu Red Hat Linux server at 
the law school instead.

Up until his death Peter was working on an article with the typically 
blunt title of "You Can't Patent Software; Patenting Software is Wrong." 
A draft is here:

And an excerpt: "As I argue in this article at what most of you will 
consider excessive length, the Supreme Court was right in holding that 
computer programs are no more patentable than are mathematical 
inventions like the calculus or logical truths like De Morgan's law that 
``NOT (A AND B)'' equals ``NOT A OR NOT B''. Computer programs are 
texts, not machines as some lawyers have confused themselves into 
believing, and thus they may be copyrighted and protected by the First 
Amendment, but they are not patentable as machines. Computer programs 
are indeed processes, but they are not patentable processes because what 
they process is information and what they produce is information, not 
some modification of material goods or articles of commerce. The simple 
fact is---though the reasons for it may be hard for most lawyers to 
grasp---that, as the title of this article puts it: ``You can't patent 
software: patenting software is wrong.''"

I'm told the Cleveland Buddhist Temple is holding a memorial service for 
Peter on Saturday and that the law school is planning one soon.


Posted by Declan McCullagh on Nov 30, 2006 in category free-speech

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