Oh great, the software patent debate is back.
After a long and disgusting campaign where pro-software-patents lobbyists employed all kinds of semi-legal and undemocratic filthy tricks in order to introduce software patents in the EU behind our backs, the European Parliament decided by a large majority to reject the directive "on the patentability of computer implemented inventions" (a.k.a. software patents) in July 2005. Rightly so.
He has organized a "Consultation and public hearing on future patent policy in Europe" which pretends to collect your views on the software patent issue (which he's trying to introduce through the "Community Patent" backdoor).
Alas, the "questionnaire" is inaccessible (it's only available in 5 languages, instead of all 25 (+2) languages of the EU member states), biased towards software patents, very obfuscated and unreadable for the general public. There's no independent working group which conducts or oversees the consultation, no independent studies and reading materials, no mentions of the negative implications of software patents, no public debate, nothing. Now, who would have expected that?
Similarly, the FFII has questioned the validity of the consultation procedure, and gives a very detailed explanation of all the serious flaws of the process.
Let me quote Donald Knuth on this:
I strongly believe that the recent trend in patenting algorithms is of benefit only to a very small number of attorneys and inventors, while it is seriously harmful to the vast majority of people who want to do useful things with computers.
(via MJ Ray)
A few hours ago, Heise reported that the EU parliament rejected the software patents directive. A majority of 648 (out of a total of 680) members of parliament voted against the directive.
This may not be the end of the software patents debate, but I definately feel relieved now.
Software patents were stopped in India. We can prevent them in Europe, too. But we need to act. Now.
I can't believe this is true. Microsoft tries to patent a programming function to determine if two variables point to the same location in memory, i.e. the IsNot (or
neq) operator. Quick, head over to nosoftwarepatents.com. You know what to do.
(via Heise (German)).