How to promote free software

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at
Tue Dec 3 23:55:28 UTC 2002

El Tue, Dec 03, 2002 at 08:54:28PM +0100, Wim De Smet deia:
> Parliament has limited power in the EU. And politics tend to follow the
> way of the money. I think there's a chance at defeating software patents
> (at least partially) and I'll do everything in my power to stop that
> (which is not much atm) but that doesn't mean I'm not overall
> pessimistic about the matter. Software patents are still being support
> at government level in different eu countries and in the commission,
> there's still lots of work there.

You are free to be pessimistic. I'm quite pessimistic by nature, 
but yet about this directive I'm a little optimistic since last month. 
You are right that Parliament has shamefully little power, but in 
the particular case of codecision (like for the swpat directive)
Parliament can reject or ammend a directive. Ammendments may be 
turned down by the Council (and the Commission can withdraw a directive 
under codecision if they don't like the Parliament ammendments, or they
can make it harder for the Council to pass them, I think). But unless
the Parliament finally votes for the directive (as proposed or ammended)
the directive won't pass. Full stop.

So if we could get a rock firm position of the Parliament, we would at
least get this directive rejected. How likely is that?. I don't know.
About politics following the money, that's when money talks to half of
the 626 of them, and when there is no public uproar.

On the other hand, I wonder how much money is at stake in each side. 
If we could get big companies who are users and not sellers of software
(oil companies, banks ... you name them) to realise how many money 
they have at stake, and really take position, we could just go home 
and watch the patent system getting fixed. I don't think this is 
likely. But I wouldn't be so overwhelmingly put off by whealthy 
software companies or patent mafias.
> As I said: money, money, money. I believe politicians are honest people
> but when the economy goes through a slump they'll try any retarded means
> to get on top of it (which they normally only do because of natural
> causes, not the laws they approved). Sorry if this again sounds cynical.
> I can't help feeling that's a realistic approach. In though economic
> times (which some people seem to believe we are in now) protectionism
> makes sense in politics. Software patents, to me, are related to those
> ideas.

Software patents are an economic disaster. And I don't know what 
protectinism you mean. Swpats might be the first ever protectionist 
measure to protect foreign capital instead of domestic capital. 

Over 60% of granted european software patents are held by USA or Japan
companies. These patents are of dubious legal force now, but if the
directive passes, they'll become strong monopolies in the hands of
foreign capital. Software is a market with strong network effects
and the effect of that would be the ruin of all European software 
businesses, big or small (except Siemens, maybe).

I don't remember the exact statistics, you find them here

I'm exaggerating a little maybe, but it's very close to that.

Xavi Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at

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