As part of the academic activities at the master on free software that we organize together with URJC and Caixanova, which this year is taking place in the city of Vigo, we try to invite every year key members of the community, so that they can transmit their motivations, knowledge and experience face to face to the students. Back in early April, Carlos Guerreiro, who had a relevant role inside Maemo since the very first moments in the history of the Internet Tablets, came to visit us for the second year in a row. Carlos gave two very interesting lectures to the students, one about the challenges in the complex relationship between big for-profit corporations and the free software community, and the other one about the differences between the status of the free software technologies for creating commercial embedded devices back in 2002, when Nokia started to look into this world, and now, trying to describe the current technology trends and foresee what will happen in the near future. In both talks, a lot of examples and anecdotes of the history of Maemo were used to illustrate Carlos’ theories and opinions, and the result was a great day where we all learned a lot.
And today, after many months trying to find a suitable date in his obviously complicated agenda, we are going to have Richard Stalllman giving two lectures as part of the Master academic activities. He will talk about the history of the movement and about the risks of software patents. The access to the talks is free as in freedom and as in beer, and we expect about 500 people attending, including the students of this year and the past year (first edition of the master). Making optimal use of our invitation to come to our country, Stallman was giving yesterday another two talks in different cities close to Vigo, arranged by local GLUGs. In total, hopefully, about 1000 people will listen the message of one of the key protagonists of the Free Software history. I’d like to thank Obra Social Caixanova for making all this possible.
From the FFII webpage: “The European Parliament today decided by a large majority (736 members, 680 votes, 645 yes, 14 No, 18 abstentions) to reject the directive “on the patentability of computer implemented inventions”, also known as the software patent directive. This rejection was the logical answer to the Commission’s refusal to restart the legislative process in February and the Council’s reluctance to take the will of the European Parliament and national parliaments into account. The FFII congratulates the European Parliament on its clear “No” to bad legislative proposals and procedures.”“.
Great news. Some days I even have the temptation to believe in Democracy.
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.