[Fsfe-ie] Re: Fsfe-ie Digest, Vol 12, Issue 13

Justin Mason jm at jmason.org
Sun May 9 03:10:16 CEST 2004

Hash: SHA1

Hi Chekov!

Chekov Feeney writes:
> Firstly, I think that it is important to recognise that logical 
> persuasion and argument have very limited possibilities when it comes to 
> influencing governmental decisions on things like this.  If they want to 
> know the arguments, they can - they have vast resources for information 
> gathering.  In cases like this their actions are based on the fact that 
> software patents are supported by big business, who employ thousands of 
> full time lobbyists in Brussels and have powerful institutions to 
> forward their agenda at EU level such as the European Round Table of 
> Industrialists and the article 133 committee.  To make them change their 
> position, pressure rather than logic must be applied.  The recent 
> succesful campaign against e-voting provides a good model, although I 
> think that we are up against much more powerful forces on the issue of 
> software patents.


> >A good idea might be a letter from a diverse group of computer
> >scientists.
> >  
> This is definitely a good idea.  With an issue like software patents, it 
> is going to be impossible to mobilise large numbers of people.  Instead 
> better to concentrate on attempting to mobilise specific groups of 
> 'opinion formers' whom the government are loathe to alienate.  In 
> addition to computer scientists, I'd suggest targeting SME's in the 
> field of IT and even opposition politicians.  There is a lobby group 
> called Democracy and Public Services in Europe (DAPSE) that is fairly 
> mainstream and has succeeded in getting upwards of 30 TD's and MEP's to 
> sign similar petitions to the government about EU decisions and I'd say 
> they'd be sympathetic.  I could contact them and see if they could 
> circulate such a petition.  In the run-up to the Euro elections there 
> are a fair few candidates that will be happy to sign up if they think it 
> might give them a smidgeon of publicity. 

There's one possible problem with SMEs: often, their investors are
pro-patent, and want the companies to apply for patents, get them,
and hold them as assets.  As a result, an SME talking publicly against
software patenting may not be what their investors want to hear,
and so that'd discourage SMEs from supporting this publically.

Worth a go anyway, but that's worth knowing.

> large-scale breaking of the laws such as a large 
> number of people openly using a piece of patented software for the 
> benefits of the media.  Prosecutions are very unlikely in such a case 
> and would be a PR disaster for the government. 

FWIW, that's pretty easy -- save a JPEG or GIF file from The Gimp. ;)

- --j.
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