[Fsfe-ie] Pro-patent lobby in sticky situation over ice-cream offer

Teresa Hackett teresahackett at eircom.net
Tue Jun 7 14:32:56 CEST 2005

 From the A2K list.


-------- Original Message --------

Pro-patent lobby in sticky situation over ice-cream offer

Ingrid Marson
June 06, 2005, 16:50 BST

The Campaign for Creativity has tried to tempt European politicians to its
cause with free ice-creams, but may have angered an MEP by using his email
account to send out the invitation without his knowledge

A pro-patent group's plan to attract the attention of European Parliament
members with free ice-cream may have landed it in hot water, after a
campaign email was sent from an MEP's account without his permission.

On Wednesday last week, every Member of the European Parliament and their
assistants received an email from Malcolm Harbour, a Conservative MEP for
the West Midlands, inviting them to an event held by pro-patent group
Campaign for Creativity (C4C) in Brussels. The email, which was signed by
Harbour's assistant, Tori Lapworth, encouraged MEPs to get a free
ice-cream and show their support for the proposed software patent

"Dear Members and Assistants, Yes its true! If you go down to Place du
Luxembourg from now until 3pm, you can collect your free ice-cream and
support the computer implemented inventions [directive] common position!
Hope to see you soon," stated the email, which was forwarded to ZDNet UK
by two MEPs.

Sources close to the situation told ZDNet UK that Harbour is 'really
angry' that the lobbying email was sent from his account. Hugo Shanahan of
the C4C was unwilling to comment on Harbour's reaction to the email, but
admitted that Harbour was unaware of the email.

"We were working with an assistant from Malcolm's office -- he wasn't in
the loop and wasn't aware of the message being sent [from his email
account]," said Shanahan.

Harbour was unable to comment in time for this article.

Simon Gentry, the director of the C4C, said the group decided to hold the
event to put its point of view across in a less serious manner.

"We knew the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) were
having a meeting and we wanted to make sure the MEPs heard our side of the
story as well," said Gentry. "It was just a bit of fun. We were getting
people to come and have a chat about what patents are."

He claimed that a "few hundred ice creams" were handed out, but said many
of these were probably handed out to passerbys rather than MEPs.

Laurence Vandewalle, an adviser for the European Green Party, said the
C4C's latest campaign was weak and unoriginal. She claimed that the Green
Party and anti-patent advocates have often done informal campaigns,
including offering food at a demo two years ago.

"I have the impression that the C4C campaign has done a deep analysis of
everything that the Greens and the open source community have done, and
copied them. The difference is that we do it genuinely, while they do it
as a professional campaign without really believing in it, without
'faith'. It is just a business for them. Therefore they just stupidly try
to copy us and the result is pathetic," said Vandewalle.

The software patent directive is currently being amended by the legal
affairs committee (JURI) of the European Parliament (EP). The amendments
suggested by JURI will be voted on in a plenary session of the EP in July.
For JURI's amendments to be agreed by the EP will require 366 MEPs to vote
for the changes — this would represent the majority of the 731 MEPs and is
irrespective of absences and abstentions.

Michelle Childs -Head of European Affairs
Consumer Project on Technology in London
24, Highbury Crescent, London, N5 1RX,UK.
Tel:+44(0)207 226 6663 ex 252.
Mob:+44(0)790 386 4642. Fax: +44(0)207 354 0607

Consumer Project on Technology in Washington, DC
PO Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036, USA
Tel.:  1.202.387.8030, fax:

Consumer Project on Technology in Geneva
1 Route des  Morillons, CP 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 791 6727

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