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Software & Patents: Open Source Stars Oppose European Patent Directive

Software & Patents: Open Source Stars Oppose European Patent Directive

Ahead of a key meeting, Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux, Monty Widenius, the CTO of MySQL, and Rasmus Lerdorf, the original author of the PHP scripting language, advertised as the three most famous European authors of open source software, have appealed to the EU Council to abandon the idea of patenting software.

Opposing the so-called software patent directive proposal that would see Europe ape the American system of software patents, the trio urged that "In the interest of Europe, such a deceptive, dangerous and democratically illegitimate proposal must not become the common position of the member states."

Apparently nosoftwarepatents.com orchestrated the move.

The trio argues that despite appearances to the contrary the draft directive contains several passages that would legalize software patents in the EU.

They claim that copyright protection is enough for software. "Copyright is fair because it is equally available to all," they argue. "A software patent regime would establish the law of the strong, and ultimately create more injustice than justice."

The Polish government pulled its support for the patent proposal a few days ago and Germany, Holland and some other countries have been making anti-patent noises. Poland's non-support upsets the voting coalition the proposal had before 10 new countries were admitted to the EU and could force it to be re-negotiated.

The anti-patent folks, galvanized by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's recent observation that Linux users could get sued for patent violations, are apparently concerned the proposed directive could pass without a formal vote as a so-called A item.

Torvalds, Widenius and Lerdorf are responsible for three of the four legs that the legendary LAMP stands on.

For the full text of the trio's appeal, see http://nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/intro/app0411.html

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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Most Recent Comments
David 12/01/04 11:36:57 AM EST

Let's hope the EU doesn't follow the broken US model. The US model had worked well until big money allowed process patents, something that was not allowed until recently.

3 Musketeers 11/29/04 02:27:43 AM EST

When Linus, Monty, and Rasmus all agree about something like this it is hard not to want to support their conclusion.

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