[Fsfe-ie] Fwd: Re: Meeting with local MP, suggestions welcome

James Heald j.heald at ucl.ac.uk
Thu May 20 14:19:08 CEST 2004

Ian Clarke suggested I copy this to the list
-- on the best way to introduce swpat arguments to MPs:

Ian Clarke wrote:

> James,
> It seems to me that raising the issue of open source / free software 
> tends to obfuscate rather than illuminate the real issues.  My 
> experience that speaking as an "innovator" is much more productive than 
> getting into a discussion about the philosophy of free software versus 
> proprietary, since both free and non-free software producers are 
> threatened by software patents.
> Do you have any comment on this?
> Ian.

I think you're quite right.

Attached are two informal background briefings which I've been sending
out as support information when talking to journalists etc.   Not
particularly polished, but I hope conveying the sense of what we're
trying to put over.

I've tried to organise the argument from the most general to the most
specific, starting with:
- the threat to competition and innovation (which affects everybody -
the users and the industry);
- then the threat to small innovative businesses;
- only after that the threat to Open Source, as a particularly affected
- and only at the end the "freedom to code" argument, which I think is
quite powerful for readers once they're sympathetic; but which I think
is a bit too alien and difficult to empathise with as an opener (and a
bit too much like special pleading).

Of course a letter writer or (better) somebody meeting an MP needs to
start by introducing themselves, and how this affects them personally.

Your approach of introducing yourself as an "innovator" I think hits the
nail on the head.

Then it's a question of how to build out the issue.

This was my (not very tested) instinctive attempt.

It's obviously something we need to get much more right.

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