How to promote free software

Niall Douglas ned at
Sun Dec 1 16:40:55 UTC 2002

On 1 Dec 2002 at 17:05, Onno Timmerman wrote:

> I keep bouncing against the same problem. (ignorance)
> 1. Access to these EU politicians. 
> 2. When I explain the problems they react as if a fish saw for the
> first time a cow. 3. They keep wandering about profits, protecting
> intellectual nonsense and the small man. 
> In short software is alien to most politicians. And free software is
> for them something like freeware or something very confusing. However
> some arguments I think are working. 
> 1. Speaking off freedom. Explaining to the point what free software is
> and what it does. It makes left politicians wonder about it. 2. The
> difference between rich country’s and developing country’s in patent
> law. 3. Pointing out that they are destroying small initiative and
> backing Microsoft & co. No I don't like MS bashing however it can help
> to give a politician a feeling that action should be done.

I would have a thought a pamphlet sent round regularly to each MEP 
would be a great help here. Very simply, it should say:

Software Patents in Europe =
1. Damage to the European Software Industry
2. Damage to the European Economy
3. Damage to European ability to compete internationally
4. Damage to Europe's ability to innovate

Confusing them with complex arguments is not the way. If you take as 
an example the cannabis legalisation movement, they have done a great 
job in making very complex and circular arguments into four or six 
bullet points. When politicians read the above, they will think "lost 
votes" and will do the needful.

We need to keep repeating these four points over and over at every 
possible opportunity. We need MEP's who know nothing to at least get 
a feeling of worry when this subject comes up. It would also help to 
target leaders of commercial software companies as when they have 
meetings with MEP's it'd be best to have negative noises appearing 
there too.

Alas however, as far as I understand the voting rules, it means that 
France is equally as powerful as Romania so while we may be able to 
persuade rich politicians whose country does not need the MS and IBM 
purse opened, for those poorer it may be nigh impossible. Hence my 
original point in other emails that we need an alternative business 
model with fat profits. Sad but true!

I would be willing to cooperate with someone here with experience in 
getting stuff to MEP's with regard to producing just such a pamphlet. 
I am unfortunately unemployed for more than nine months now, so I 
could not afford the production or distribution costs past my own 
time (well not till I get a job again anyway!) :(


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