Free software fans take a stand against software patents

Conference and a protest


Free software advocates are holding a last conference on the software patents directive today, ahead of a parliamentary vote on the directive on 21 June. This afternoon, Association Electronique Libre and Open Standaarden will lead a demonstration in Brussels against the proposed legislation.

Open source luminaries Richard Stallman, founder of GNU/Linux and Alan Cox (of Red Hat fame) will join Green MEPs Monica Frassoni and Eva Lichtenberger to discuss the impact of software patents on the free and open source software community.

Stallman has spoken many times about the dangers of allowing patents on software ideas. He warns that if companies are allowed to patent software ideas, big business will ride roughshod over the smaller players, and the free software movement will be effectively strangled.

He says that the US should be a warning for Europe, as it is a case study of how difficult things can get for an independent developer trying not to infringe anything already patented.

When the developer inevitably does infringe a patent, he has three choices: avoid the idea, try to buy a license, or overturn the patent. No-one is obliged to grant licenses, they can name their terms if they do and it wouldn't take too many deals requiring a slice of gross sales to sink a product.

Big companies can ride out these kinds of difficulties by brandishing their own portfolio of patents, and signing cross-licensing deals. They can also afford to pursue their patents in the courts - a process that is notoriously expensive. Smaller players would not have that luxury.

Stallman, and other anti-patent campaigners, argue that the directive of computer implemented inventions (as it is formally known) would usher in just this kind of madness in Europe.

Anyone who can't make it to Brussels to register a protest, but who would like to make their voice heard, can sign up for a web demo against the introduction of the directive here.

The European Parliamentary committee will vote on its proposed amendments to the draft on 21 June, and the parliament as a whole is likely to vote on the directive on 5 July. ®

Related stories

Patent Office makes a technical contribution
EU takes axe to software patents directive
Software patent directive back in motion


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022