Capaigning against software patents

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope at
Wed Dec 4 23:40:24 UTC 2002

On 5 Dec 2002 at 0:28, Jan Wildeboer wrote:

> > Obviously this would require some money for postage. It duplicates
> > making them aware of the issue though, so it's well spent.
> Why not contact them via email and provide some links? They are
> software companies after all ...

You can try, but I bet it'll get dumped in the spam bin. 
Psychologically people take paper much more seriously than verbal or 
electronic forms. It's slowly changing, but I've met more than one 
person who has to print out the code in order to study it.

> A decent and well-written template could be a good result of this
> interesting discussion.

I'll get my own ideas on this down sometime before the weekend.

> A better way might be to get in contact with some respected
> journalists from good IT-related magazines and convince them that it
> would be a good thing to do and publish the results. Publicity is
> perhaps the most important 'currency' to achieve results.

This helps, but few IT journalists are programmers - if they were, 
they'd work in programming as it pays more.

Most journalists write what their editor tells them to write. It can 
be hard getting a non-advertiser supported piece done.

> > Well I can be a bit direct sometimes. I don't mean to sound like I'm
> > barking orders, but I was kinda hoping someone could say if the FSF
> > is willing to provide some funds to make these ideas happen or are
> > we completely broke?
> I think it is unreasonable to ask the FSF for funds when on the other
> hand the term Free Software should be avoided. It should be a broad
> coalition of interested people, companies and NGO.

Agreed but to get that broad coalition formed you need a warchest to 
get it started. Free software has the most to lose from software 
patents because every time free software invents something a US 
multinational will patent it and prevent the inventors using it (and 
since free software has to disclose during development, it's a bit 
stuck - especially without a warchest for fighting infringement 
cases). Obviously there's also the interoperability issue.

> Just jumping in, with no real plan behind it. Take it with a grain of
> salt. Though I am curious to organize/help on this issue as I am
> personally endangered by these patents.

We all are. I've been working the last few months on the kind of 
revolution in software that requires many many patents. It's an 
integral inter-dependent system of new technology so if I lose one 
bit the whole castle falls down :( Needless to say, it causes me 
sleep trouble at night.


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