Making the case against software patents (Was: Re: [Fsfe-ie] Ivana Bacik

Ian Clarke ian at
Sun May 23 12:26:31 CEST 2004

Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> I've just been talking to RMS, and he suggested that we let some MEP
> candidates have the mic for 5 minutes to state their views - but probably
> only if more than one shows up - otherwise it would seem like a straight
> endorsement.

Thats a good idea.  One potential problem is that even those MEPs that 
are aggressively pushing software patents tend to use language that 
suggests the exact opposite.

For example, imagine that Arlene McCarthy was invited to speak after RMS 
and said:

"Computer software and business processes/methods are explicitly 
excluded from patentating [sic] in both the UK already and this proposed 
EU law." (referring to the pre-amendment directive from last Summer).

One would be tempted to think that, based on this statement alone (which 
comes from one of her boilerplate responses to people who write to her 
about swpats), that McCarthy understands and agrees with RMS' case 
against software patents, while we all know that the opposite is true.

In other words, how are we to warn people not to take the statements of 
the pro-patent lobby at face-value without simply denouncing them as 
outright liars (which would allow our opponents to accuse us of making 
an ad hominem argument and inappropriately "aggressive" lobbying tactics).

Ciaran, perhaps you could put this question to RMS (I considered Cc:ing 
him, but I suspect he gets enough email as it is without being copied on 
mailing list discussions)?


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