A new step towards Software Patents in Europe

A sad day for democracy (even for representative democracy). A sad day for Free(dom) Software.

The European Council Presidency has just adopted the “Software Patent Agreement”. The proposal had already been voted before in the Council, with the abstention of Austria, Belgium and Italy, and Spain as the only negative vote, and it was now again in the agenda as an A-item (non discussion topics).

Despite of the efforts carried out by some of the members (Denmark, Poland and Portugal, among others) trying to move the agreement to the list of B-items (discussion topics), the Presidency (Luxembourg) claimed it was not possible due to procedural and practical reasons. Some countries decided to submit written texts (explaining their disagreement) together with the proposal to the European Parliament, but finally the list of A-items was accepted by the whole Council without discussing or voting again.

In the next three months, the European Parliament will vote the proposal, needing the negative votes of the majority of the members in order to be rejected. Any amendment should be approved by the majority, also.

In the past, the European Parliament had already opposed to software patents, requesting to the Council the avoidance of any low allowing them. The Council, ignoring the request of the Parliament, created a proposal, in May 2004, which allows to patent “computer made inventions”, a subtle way of defining which finally is a patent on software algorithms.

If this is the normal behavior of the Council, and this is the kind of institutions that the European Constitution legitimates, we can start to think in running away from *this* version of Europe.

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