[Fsfe-ie] Call for mutual support between European and US advocates

Malcolm Tyrrell malcohol at eircom.net
Wed Oct 20 20:04:20 CEST 2004


Seth Johnson is trying to coordinate mutual support between "information
freedom" advocates in Europe and the US. His e-mail is below. I have drafted
a response from IFSO which I've put on the Wiki:


My response is not itself a direct call for US assistance, but rather an
initial statement of IFSO's position on the idea.

I plan to send it to the recipients of Seth's original e-mail tomorrow
afternoon, so please make any necessary edits or comments.

Good luck,



Hello folks,

I'm writing to all of you to provide you with a crucial
opportunity to forge support from advocates in the United States
for the cause of eliminating software patents.

A very broad range of advocates came together this past March for
an Internet Commons Congress which was organized by Dan
Berninger, an activist in the area of telecommunications policy,
and New Yorkers for Fair Use [1].

The event was chiefly inspired by the United States Federal
Communications Commission proposing to regulate Voice Over IP
applications in accordance with regulations associated with the
traditional publicly-switched telephone infrastructure. [2]

Dan realized the broad implications of this proposal and
approached us to develop the program and do critical outreach for
participants representing broader issues areas. The event was a
great success. [3]

We designed this event to bring activists in telecommunications
policy together with activists in a broad range of issues areas
more closely related to exclusive rights policy. In order to do
this effectively, we framed the event in such a way that
exclusive rights policy implications were represented in terms of
the following three rights or interests of the public:

1) the right to own fully-functional computers;
2) the right to make flexible use of published information; and
3) the right to express logic in code freely.

The upshot is that the third item is obviously highly relevant to
what all of you are deeply involved in right now in Europe.

Coming out of the event, we have continued discussions among the
participants. This is a group that crosses the entire
information freedom activist community in the United States,
including leading voices from the leading organizations. Besides
the 50+ active contacts that derived from the event, nearly 250
more are regularly blind copied, as a result of their having
shown interest by attending or responding to the initial outreach
for the event.

So what can you do with this?

I am asking that all of you included in this email, work to
compose a call for the assistance of the United States
information freedom activist community, in your fight to block
software patents in Europe. I can send your message to the ICC

I would like to send your communication to the ICC participants
by the end of this Thursday.

I see one specific thing you can most productively ask for: that
they write a letter of support from advocates in the United
States, signed by important voices in the fight, that could be
sent to EU Council, Commission, Presidency, and Parliament
contacts, national representatives in the member states, as well
as relevant government agency contacts.

The one specific thing I most recommend you ask them to say, is
that the EPO case law is wrong.

An important thing to understand: I believe most of you are aware
that the U.S. activist community has a number of misdirected
positions regarding software patents. What I wish to state now
is that what you must do is something called "delineation." You
have to make the most principled part of your position the key to
your approach -- for instance, state that you want to repeal or
block software patents, not fix the system. We can expect a
number, significant or not, of people not to go along with a
position of outright opposition to software patents as such.
This would be normal; the thing to remember is that you
nevertheless get the strong supporters and you build strength for
a principled position.

What we of the ICC will get from this, is a strong representation
from all of you, of the software patents issue as such. You will
help us strengthen this part of the framework for the ICC, and
help yourselves in the bargain. We have been circumspect about
the software patent issue, and we need to confirm its importance
on a principled ground with the ICC group.

I have thought for a long time about what other things I would
include in this email, but I think all I need to do right here is
give you the idea, and we can follow through with discussing the

Thank you for your help,

Seth Johnson



[2] Briefly, this was a proposal to consider regulations for
"IP-enabled services" to fulfill regulations allowing for
wiretapping, intercarrier access fees and universal service
charges, emergency call services, and disability access. (See

[3] Many great things took root at this event. Most
significantly, much of the recent WIPO activity was initiated by
James Love and Manon Ress delivering a pitch to the ICC on
international policy developments. People who came together at
this event also joined to block the INDUCE Act. Other VoIP
initiatives have approached us.


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New Yorkers for Fair Use

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