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The Latest on EU SW Patents - Pics of the Demo
Friday, February 18 2005 @ 10:56 AM EST

"Shortly before midnight, the German Bundestag became the fourth parliament this month to speak out against the EU Council's proposal for a software patent directive," so reports Here's the header of their press release and the pertinent first paragraph:

Unanimous resolution passed by German parliament against EU Council's current proposal for a software patent directive -- European software patent critics celebrate "winning streak" after scoring four parliamentary victories in 16 days -- Concerns over "Microsoft's best friend in the Commission" who will decide on EP's restart request

The German parliament unanimously voted on a resolution. Earlier that day, the leaders of all groups in the European Parliament unanimously decided to request the European Commission to submit a new proposal for the directive. In the first half of the month, the Spanish Senado and the Dutch Tweede Kamer had passed similar resolutions on this controversial issue.

There is an an English translation of the consensus position of the German parliament here [PDF]. And the press release has a bit more on the Bill Gates threat against Denmark:

The Danish social democrats responded with a press release that "blackmail shall not dictate Danish policy". Microsoft subsequently denied that Gates made the respective statement but did admit that intellectual property rights and their connection with the location of jobs were discussed in the respective meeting.

Here and here is the latest from FFII on what is going on as far as next steps in the software patents battle in Europe.

Please forgive me if I don't explain much. I'm still getting caught up from my trip, and I don't understand it myself yet. What I see is that the Conference of Presidents has decided to ask for a restart. And that the President of FFII says it doesn't ensure that the Commission will comply with the request of the Parliament. But it's another step that had to be achieved for there to be hope of a restart. That's what I understand. Please feel free to explain more, those of you who are sure you know what's next in more detail.

As for me, I'll do urls and pictures! Here is an FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure) letter that was delivered to Luxemburg's chief Council diplomat, Christian Braun, by 300 FFII demonstrators yesterday, pointing out what they see as flaws in the processes of the European Council and asking for "cautious reform, with view to the software patent directive." They also delivered a webshop poster, showing all the patents already granted, which you can view here. And here's the Thank You, Poland ceremony on the 16th, where a list of all the 30,000 signatures from the website were handed to Poland in a ceremony in the Parliament in Warsaw, with pictures. Here's ZDNet's coverage of yesterday's protest.

"There were some 300 people, which is quite a lot given that it was only announced a week in advance," said [FFII spokesman Jonas] Maebe. "We also had participants from all over Europe, including [among others] Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland."

Maebe said that one of the key themes of the demonstration was that Europe should not be a "banana republic" -- generally defined as a non-democratic state with widespread corruption and foreign influence. Some campaigners claim that the EU Council's attempts to adopt the directive without vote or discussion during Agriculture and Fishery meetings in December and January are undemocratic, particularly as a change in the voting weights of EU members means that the EU Council members which supported the directive in May no longer have a majority vote.

"I think the banana republic metaphor is a great way to express how many people feel about the Council and Commission: no discussions on substance, only attempts to quickly push everything quietly through at fishery meetings," said Maebe. "This is no longer just about software patents, it's now also about democratic legitimacy."

There is a picture with the ZDNet coverage. And there are plenty more here. It looks like a very friendly and fun group.

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