How to promote free software

Wim De Smet fragmeat at
Wed Dec 4 11:30:59 UTC 2002

On Wed, 4 Dec 2002 00:55:28 +0100
Xavi Drudis Ferran <xdrudis at> wrote:

> 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.
A rock firm position would require us to confirm more support from both
sides of the political spectrum. I'm seeing only the left is engaging
themselves against software patents (and not fully, but that could
change). Please correct me if I'm wrong.

> 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.
Granted you make very good sense. But some companies (Business software
alliance is probably a good example) are still saying the exact opposite.
I'm just expressing concern with whom eventually will be heard. It seems to
me, that liberals and conservative partiesusually take the side of big 
business. Best thing to do then is to get as much software developers as
possible to openly reject patents (already well on our way there).

I meant protectionism as in trying to protect the own IP by swpatents.
It is of course not a valid argument, as you point out, but it still
pops up now and then.

Anyway there is a chance to stop swpatents in europe. I'm just not sure
if we'll have enough leverage to do it. Maybe I was just in a pessimistic
state of mind when I wrote that. :-) To me it really looks like it'll be
a close call, hope we can convince enough people in time.


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