Home > Legal > EU Approves Software Patent Changes EU Approves Software Patent Changes Submitted by --_==Josh==_-- 2004-05-18 Legal 50 Comments The European Council on Tuesday approved controversial changes to the European Union’s Software Patents Directive that will pave the way for widespread patenting of software in Europe. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 50 Comments 2004-05-18 7:35 pm But “politicians” will have hard times from now on. I swear it. Anyway thank you Osnews for publishing this. 2004-05-18 7:37 pm I know I’m restating the obvoious here, but patents are the only real threat that free, open source software faces. To hell with the EU. *shrug* 2004-05-18 7:38 pm Well, at least now it’s official: the European Union is not a democracy and going to elect european deputies on June 13th is useless… Why should I elect deputies if they are powerless? Well, I know, because elections are compulsory in my country and we get fined if we don’t vote. “I must elect my fake european democracy”. So cool… 2004-05-18 7:39 pm Oh well, they were warned. What else can you do. I hope this makes North America a lot of money! 2004-05-18 7:39 pm And this is the “democratic” union! It is more and more some burrocratic behemoth. The council overrides all the changes applied by the European Parliament – BTW the only democratically elected body of the EU – just before the new election. Very, very promising. 2004-05-18 7:46 pm That’s the only word for it, and it doesn’t even come close! Belgian citizen here! I’ll just go kick some trash cans for half an hour, then when I’ve calmed down think about ways in which to influence the balance of power. Just a thought: IF patents are allowed, can’t we introduce a rule stating that, when it is believed PROPRIETARY software violates a software patents, they HAVE to have their source code scrutinized? I’m saying this because, in the worst case, we have to find a way to turn this situation against them. Of course the primary goal is to AVOID those patents alltogether! 2004-05-18 7:48 pm Well, I know, because elections are compulsory in my country and we get fined if we don’t vote. “I must elect my fake european democracy”. So cool… Never heard of compulsory elections…wow, just think if they had that in the U.S. — Anyway…back on topic… My condolences to Europe. May $DEITY help us all. 2004-05-18 7:52 pm Before everyone starts a rampage: To quote from the news.com article: The directive will now be sent back to the European Parliament for another vote there in the autumn as the different bodies of the EU engage in a game of legislative ping-pong. [..] [R]eversing the Council’s vote will be difficult [..] “The catch is that if the Parliament still doesn’t like software patents, it has to have a majority of all MEPs (ministers of the European Parliament) to put its amendments, which means that in practice they need a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 majority in the chamber,” Heald said. If the Parliament is successful in that vote, the directive will go back to the Council for a second reading. If the Council still disagrees, it will go to a “sudden death” reconciliation committee, which will have six weeks to settle the matter. So! Boycotting the vote is a mistake apparently as the parliament has to vote about the proposal again. This time with new members. Your call. 2004-05-18 7:54 pm It appears to me in the end they will eventually grant final approval to this. In a twisted sort of way the EU may actually see this a potentially large source of revenue given the current high cost of application fee’s in the U.S. Don’t believe for a second there isn’t a economic side to this story, it could be extremely money motivated. Needless to say MS has their guns loaded and ready to fire. On the first day of filing they will single handedly flood the entire system with what could amount to thousands of applications, and the windfall of revenue that goes with it. We’re finally going to see if the EU has anyone brighter in their patent office than what is found here in the states. 2004-05-18 8:02 pm “The catch is that if the Parliament still doesn’t like software patents, it has to have a majority of all MEPs (ministers of the European Parliament) to put its amendments, which means that in practice they need a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 majority in the chamber,” I don’t get the “2-to-1” or “3-to-1” majority thing. Can someone explain this? 3 to 1 sounds hard to get. I don’t think the September 2003 vote against softwares patent had 3 to 1 majority, not even 2 to 1 majority, no? 2004-05-18 8:10 pm Well, looks like the only place to develop Linux now without the threat of a lawsuit is in Asia, the Middle East and South America. Everyone else has pretty much set the software industry up to be dominated by Microsoft for the next billion years. 2004-05-18 8:11 pm “I don’t think the September 2003 vote against softwares patent had 3 to 1 majority, not even 2 to 1 majority, no?” It’s worse than that. The EU has been enlarged with several new members that support a much more US-like and hardline capitalist system than what we have now in the EU. This means golden times for opponents of social security, health care, etc. Proposals that failed through parliament before get a second chance. 2004-05-18 8:23 pm now… I just talked about, how ruined this country was, with my dad today. Now this totally confirms what I said. People here want to ruin this country they put all and every force behind their actions to make this country get stalled. The worst part: there is no way out. Can we please make a list with countries that are free of BS? I’d rather like to know where to move for studiing or when I have finished studying. My advisory: do not move to germany at all. Ohh well if you want to seee real life comedy, watch german politics. kindest regards, mo can I now get my tax deductable 2¢? 2004-05-18 8:25 pm Xavier, please email me privately. I need to explain to you a few things. 2004-05-18 8:34 pm news.com does not say it, but Spain voted against the Directive. For once, I’m proud of being Spanish. It seems our new Government is doing things smoothly and listening to the people, not Bush. 2004-05-18 9:03 pm C’mon folks, don’t display so much doom & gloom just yet. Although it is bad news, I refuse to believe that the European Parliament is devoid of common sense or independance… 2004-05-18 9:12 pm Geez is right. We should be driven by reason and logic like usual, not strong emotions. Please DO NOT try to email your MEPs or government representatives in state of rage/grief/whatever. What I would personally like to see, is a detailed analysis of where we come from (less important but interesting nevertheless), where we are now, toward where we seem to head (towards where we are being lead?), as well as the different players, interest groups and ‘alliances’ that are out on the field. We talk about patents, but it is hard to get a clear overview of the battlefield. And believe me, this is worthy to be called a ‘war’. I have just finished reading the ‘Art of War’ by Sun Tzu, on http://www.sonshi.com/ , and it would make an interesting excercise comparing the current patent situation to the guidelines described in AoW. Anyone wish to take the challenge? 2004-05-18 9:26 pm I’m confused! Cnet and other newssites make it sound as if the controversial changes (software patents, business methods, all the stuff that makes it bad for free or open source software) are all approved (not finally, but bad nonetheless), but the german website heise.de tells a different story and make it sound as if they got some changes and made sure that open source developers will not be affected by patents and some other changes too. Wich one is the truth??? Hope somebody with better English can translate/explain some more from the article. http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/47477 “Allerdings sei auch gewährleistet, dass durch diese Patente freie Entwickler in ihrer Arbeit nicht blockiert werden.” ” Die Kommission unterstütze auf der anderen Seite, dass niemand auf diesem Markt durch Patente unfair von Ideen und Technologie ausgeschlossen werde. Der Text stelle klar, dass Geschäftsmethoden oder Computerprogramme, die keine tasächlichen technischen Neuerungen böten, nicht patentierbar seien.” 2004-05-18 9:36 pm Damn, I’m so proud to be living in the United States of Europe (aka America2). … Bastards. 2004-05-18 9:45 pm OK, im Irish and it was my government during its current EU presidency that pushed to have these amendments introduced, but where is the rest of the EU? I thought Germany & France were both vehemently against software patents? how could this get passed at a European Council level without majority support from EU member states? It is also well known that Microsoft is the primary sponsor of Ireland’s current EU presidency! I for one will not be voting for Fianna Fail (the current political party in power) in the upcoming elections.. 2004-05-18 11:01 pm On June 13th we within the European Union will have the election of the European Parliament, and its result might well influence whether the result of the European Council will be accepted or needs to be discussed further. If you live in Europe and prefer the latter I suggest you to go to this election and vote for a party which is against this result. Currently the only pan-European party network clearly against software patents is the “European Federation of Green Parties” ( http://www.eurogreens.org/cms/default/dok/8/8405.eu_must_not_admit_… ), all other party networks have vastly differing opinions depending on the country. Keep in mind that in the election of the European Parliament you vote for specific local people about whom you often can find more information on the internet. At e.g. http://greens-efa.org/pdf/documents/SoftwarePatenting/Appelsnominau… you can read exactly who voted for or against software patents last time in the European Parliament, you may be able to find your local candidates among them. 2004-05-18 11:18 pm I HATE PRODI!!!! 2004-05-18 11:27 pm Howdy In Australia the government is trying to push through a free trade deal with the USA and guess what is tacked on to it … you guessed it Copyright reforms. Basically it has some simmilarities to the DCMA in the states so it seems “the agents of evil” are trying to get the entire world in the same sort of mess that the USA has :0( *sigh* 2004-05-18 11:47 pm I never could trust a country whose three most powerful people were named “Bush,” “Dick,” and “Colin.” *shrug* 2004-05-18 11:47 pm “…that support a much more US-like and hardline capitalist system…” Although it is certainly more U.S.-like, it’s hardly capitalistic. Capitalism only thrives when there is competition. Software patents might more accurately be described as mercantilistic, with private orgainizations gaining the favor of the government to enforce their own agendas. Freeedom is never served in such circumstances. 2004-05-19 12:08 am -off-topic–off-topic–off-topic–off-topic–off-topic- Yes, the U.S. health-care system sucks, but it’s because the system runs open loop. When I go to the doctor, I’m not the customer; my employer is, and he could give a rat’s hind end about my health (other than how it affects my work output). Attempts have been made to pass Medical Savings Accounts, wherein some of the money currently paid by the employer to insurance companies and administrative organizations goes to the consumer for _his_ disbursement, but one very wealthy individual in the U.S. Congress, who has never had to work for a living (and drank a lot of his life away, as well as paid off a manslaughter he committed a few decades ago), has managed to block and cripple the legislation. In my book, the republican form of government sucks; its saving virtue is that potential monsters have their efforts diverted into politics. It’s also far better than any other form of government ever tried anywhere. BTW, I’m a professional programmer who is a U.S. citizen and is proud to be free and American, in that order. 2004-05-19 12:09 am Like the EU, in Aus the jury is still out and they haven’t got the Free Trade deal through yet. Although with an election coming up I guess the same idiots will get in be it Liberal or Labour so with both being Americas lackies, we’ll have the trade agreement sometime or other. Welcome DCMA, not. 2004-05-19 2:03 am Give it up man. Moderations aren’t always fair, but that’s how it is. Complaining about it is kinda lame. The best thing to do is to take it smiling and reformulate your comment and/or argument in a way that can be less interpreted as violating the OSNews regulations. 2004-05-19 4:15 am Howdy What we really need to do is fund alot of publicity against it, there seems to be plenty of reporters for sale these days and will report anything we want them too (after payment of course) so why not make a publicity fund and spread a little bit of truth out there!! If this plan fails I`m willing to dress up like batman and save the world :0) 2004-05-19 4:24 am I’ll ask the 4 largest hungarian parties about this patent. There will be an election held on the 4th(?-not sure) June. If I receive an answer, I post it on some hungarian mailings-list, maybe it helps. (Sorry for my bad english!) 2004-05-19 8:04 am Waaaa, why does it say ‘CA patent attorney’ and ‘how to apply for an US patent’ in the commercials above? As if this isn’t frustrating enough without these cursed commercials. (disclaimer: I’m still angry, guess I didn’t kick enough trashcans yesterday…) 2004-05-19 8:29 am “IF patents are allowed, can’t we introduce a rule stating that, when it is believed PROPRIETARY software violates a software patents, they HAVE to have their source code scrutinized?” That’s an interesting idea. British MEP Arlene McCarthy insists ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,975126,00.html ) that “this directive will not have any adverse effects on open source software development.” If her word is not good, then there should be some sort of punishment in the ballot box. Perhaps her claims indicate that the intention is that open source projects will not be subject to patent prosecution. Until the threat of software patents is removed democratically (by withdrawal from the EU if necessary), perhaps all we can do is widespread civil disobedience. At least those patents that are invalid (by covering obvious or unoriginal `innovations’) should not be honoured 2004-05-19 9:06 am I find pretty nice posts in modded doen comments and sometimes I can’t understand how they ended there. And yes , I have read the rules , but some posts (IMHO) don’t violate them. I understood that the messages are modded down by clicking report abuse link. I know is very hard to moderate , but sometimes I have the impression that the rules are not equal for everyone. But that’s just my oppinion.Of course my message is OT , but since there’s not topic opened by users/readers is the only way out. And also of course , this message will be modded down , but that’s OK. 2004-05-19 9:41 am “””Currently the only pan-European party network clearly against software patents is the “European Federation of Green Parties”””” >>>>>>>>>> Too bad, I can’t vote for the Green Parties. Okay, they are against software patents, good. But there are too many other points in their program I simply can not accept. Bad luck. 2004-05-19 10:41 am “This directive brought to you by the letters M, S and the number 1” 🙂 2004-05-19 10:41 am Way to go EU, this is just brilliant! You have no idea how I disappointed I am by the paper-pushers in Brussels. What a farce. 2004-05-19 11:14 am Italy didn’t vote. Strange. Our Prime Minister is also the richest man in Italy and every single act his government has been doing is pro-industry, pro-high class citizens. In other news, the majority party allowed a law to pass that makes downloading a single file a criminal offence, with up to 6 years in jail and fines up to €15000. Uh, and they raised taxes on recording media, including hard disks, RAM and cd/dvd burners, after having already raised it 8000% (yep, eight thousand percent) last year. Go figure. 2004-05-19 11:36 am Yesterday afternoon, 5 of us officially presented a petition against software patents to Dutch MP’s responsible for Economic Affairs. We were rather lucky, since one of us had good contacts with one of those MP’s, who was sympathetic to us and had considerable influence, resulting in a quick arrangement to hand over the petition. Normally, the procedure would have taken weeks. Many MP’s were quite interested in our information, and were particularly concerned about the fact that our minister of Economic Affairs, Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst, who was to vote in the EU council on our country’s behalf, had apparently misinformed our national parlement. They even announced they would be holding an extra debate, probably tomorrow. During the day, we were kept informed through our mobile phones. It was nerve wreckening. We kept receiving conflicting reports about wether we would be getting a majority against or not. Near the end, we even heard that the Netherlands would probably have the deciding vote! You can understand that nearly drove us crazy. Eventually, the news broke… And again, mister Bolkestein seems to have played a crucial role on the side of the software patent supporters. The fight is not over, however! It will be more difficult now, but the European Parlement seems to be really pissed, and most Eastern members that are joining the EU now (and will be part of the parliament after the next elections in June) appear to be opposed against software patents. Also, it amazed me how easy it can be to get in touch with influential people, as long as YOU KNOW THE RIGHT PERSONS that have the relevant connections! In spite of the defeat, I’m still impressed with the difference we managed to make today. At least more people in our government are informed now. And we won’t be giving up the fight! We made a few mistakes the last few days (hey, we were new at this), but we also accomplished a lot and also learned A LOT of lessons. I would like to end this post with two pieces of advice: 1) I’m calling upon ALL European Citizens to VOTE IN THE NEXT EUROPEAN ELECTIONS! Even though there is much wrong in European politics, not using your vote and at least applying that little influence you do would be insanely foolish! 2) Let’s all coordinate our lobbying efforts! If you have even just one or two hours a week available to help out, spend it by contacting certain EP’s (preferably try to start a dialogue with one or two specific EP’s, so you can concentrate on them and build up more personal relations) and contact FFII to notify them of your efforts and inform them who you are in contact with. There were only five of us, and look how far we have come in only 5 days time! 3) Sign the Eurolinux petition: http://petition.eurolinux.org/index_html so we can call for your help and keep you up todate. 2004-05-19 11:52 am Of course, by “downloading” I meant “downloading a seemingly-illegal file”. Of course, I don’t mean we should all be downloading illegal files–it was only because of the absurd proportions of all of this. The government promised the Italian Green party, who had presented 750 proposal for changes to this law (written by people across the Net), to change this law removing the “bad parts” in a very short time. If they don’t, it’s estimated that about 3 millions of people risk prison for what they did in the last two months. In the very same day, EU approves software patents. Not a good day to be Italian, or European. 2004-05-19 12:24 pm The rich have it and want more. Its like someone said to me… If excrement would be worth money the poor would be born without an ahole. 2004-05-19 12:48 pm The ALP opposes the FTA as it currently stands. Latham has commented on this at length. But to the topic at hand, you can consider this the reaction to the moves made by “F/OSS” in Europe in recent years. Some are genuinely afraid of “F/OSS” being allowed to have its’ own agenda – or to not have one at all. 2004-05-19 12:51 pm From what I heard from one of my colleageues in the Dutch FFII delegation, the decision is offically *not* final yet. The situation is that *officially* the decision will have to be confirmed behind closed doors. Now what is very interesting is that apparantly our minister, Mr. Brinkhorst, has misinformed our national parliament, which is usually *not* a good idea in politics. It is quite certain that the SP is at least going to ask official questions in the parliament and it is still possible that the national parliament is going to force the minister to vote *against* the proposal after all, since I can assure you that at least the Christen Democrates, which is the largest party in the Dutch parliament are very well informed ;-)) This means that, should it come to a vote, it is a *realistic possibility* that the Dutch vote will be retreated. If all this is really going to happen, we just need 2 more votes to reverse this dreadful proposal. So, keep your fingers crossed … 2004-05-19 1:20 pm I have only one thing to say: FSCK THE EU! 2004-05-19 1:28 pm “And again, mister Bolkestein seems to have played a crucial role on the side of the software patent supporters. ” Of course, Mr. Bolkestein is a conservative, even reactionist in my view. Do I need to say more? 2004-05-19 2:10 pm Yeah, Bolkestein is one big lump of ignorance and Brinkhorst is very much a pathetic dipstick…sigh. But on the subject of lobbying: why isn’t a professional lobbyist hired in? Not cheap but maybe worth a try ! 2004-05-19 5:11 pm Your citations translate roughly to: “[However] it is warranted that free developers are not hindered by Patents.” “The Commission supports, on the other hand, that no one [acting] on the marketplace is unequably excluded from ideas and technology. The text clarifies that business methods, or computer programs which do not bring actual technical innovations, are not patentable.” [Better translations are possible, I am sure] Please note that this is a statement from the EU Commission, not the judgement of the german editor at Heise. The statement is in fact pure misinformation. But you can get much more information of course at http://www.ffii.org. 2004-05-19 8:07 pm I think the surf’s in England had it better. At least they only had to offer 2/3 to the king. What exactly is the government doing? They are protecting companies that will never return the information back to the people as public domain. 2004-05-20 12:24 am yeah, lovely when big bucks rule the world. big bucks is very democratic indeed. 2004-05-20 6:56 pm Can we please make a list with countries that are free of BS? I’d rather like to know where to move for studiing or when I have finished studying. There is no such place. For once, I’m proud of being Spanish. It seems our new Government is doing things smoothly and listening to the people, not Bush. I am glad the Spanish people have been identified as fair weather friends at the outset. As an American I would hate to have had to rely on the Spanish if things got really tough. 2004-05-20 7:04 pm RAM and cd/dvd burners, after having already raised it 8000% (yep, eight thousand percent) last year. So do you go to switzerland to buy your parts? I have bought lots of computer parts in Switzerland and have found in some cases they were cheaper then in the US and alot cheaper than Germany+VAT.