EU software patent directive blunted
Date 25-Sep-2003 13:43:19
|On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted to accept the use of software patents for the EU. Well, sort of. In a move that seems ripped from a legal drama, where the sympathetic defendant is found guilty but then given only a slap on the wrist, their approval came with lots and lots of conditions.|
For example, patented software can be used at will without authorization or payment if its use is only to ensure interoperability. Also, patent holders will only be able to enforce their claims against end-users, not suppliers. This wide combination of strings seems to render European software patents virtually useless. See TheRegister and news.com for details.
This is good news, of course, for the Amiga community and for all small software developers. Software patents are the reason why GIF support is currently so shaky. Years ago, patents also caused browser SSL problems in the US, where the popular RC4 encryption algorithm is patented.
Unfortunately, the fight isn't over. EU Commissioner Frits Bolkestein has threatened to kill the amended directive. Even if this is avoided, lobby groups like the Business Software Alliance (a front for large software companies like Microsoft) will try to warp the directive as it gets implemented by member states. No matter where you live, consider signing the EuroLinux/FFII petition at http://swpat.ffii.org/group/todo/index.en.html. And if you live within the EU, consider voicing your opinion to your local representatives or even joining FFII directly.