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[ILUG] Mary Harney again

# [ILUG] Mary Harney again

Brendan Halpin brendan at brendanhalpin2.staff8.ul.ie
Wed May 12 11:08:22 IST 2004

Sorry about the last message -- don't normally send attachments
from Gnus, and the usual method doesn't work quite right.

Here we go again.

Brendan
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\documentclass[12pt]{bhlet}
\usepackage{a4,url,bhtex,mathpple}
\usepackage[latin1]{inputenc}

\begin{document}
\name{Brendan Halpin}
\texttt{\small\hfill phone:~+353 61 213147}\\[-1mm]
\texttt{\small\hfill e-mail:~brendan.halpin at ul.ie}}
\signature{Brendan Halpin, MA DPhil}

\begin{letter}{An T=E1naiste Mary Harney,\\
Department of Enterprise, Trade \& Employment,\\
23 Kildare Street,\\
Dublin 2}
\opening{Dear Ms Harney,}

I understand proposals to allow the patenting of software
discoveries in the EU are still on the agenda. I am writing to you
to express my disquiet with this development, and to ask you to
oppose it.

Patents for software are unnecessary and harmful. They are
unnecessary because even without them innovation and profitability
proceed at an enviable rate. =

They are harmful to innovation, to the market and to civil society
for a number of reasons. First, innovation: In software, invention
plays a much greater role than in other domains, and independent
reinvention is extremely common. Patents thus put an unreasonable
burden on software research and development, in a way that is not
true of material research and development. =

Second, the market: It is essential for competition and innovation
that the market be open, but software patents put more power in the
hands of established players, power that economic rationality
dictates will be used to inhibit the emergence of competitors. As
you are aware, the software market contains a fascinating mix of
big corporations striving to exert maximum control inhibited only
by the emergence of new firms fuelled by new technologies; software
patents push this delicate balance in the direction of oligopoly.

On a pragmatic note, this imbalance will tend to favour certain
very American firms, at the expense of the European software
industry.

Third, civil society: software patents are detrimental to openness
in civil society. They undermine \textbf{open standards} and
\textbf{open source software}, two factors contributing strongly to
the power of the consumer to control his/her own data. I was
delighted to read of your colleague, Mary Hannafin's, recent
endorsement of the importance of open standards, which allow
individuals, organisations and even governments a vital degree of
independence from software vendors. A standard, however specified,
cannot be open if its operation is subject to patent, as the World
Wide Web Consortium acknowledges. \footnote{See
\url{http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy-20040205/}. The
W3C copes with the problem of US software patents by insisting on
royalty-free and non-discriminatory licensing if patents impinge
on their standards. This is very difficult to achieve and is a
problem it is better not to create.}

Open source software is even more effective in giving power to
individuals, though more of more specialised effect than open
standards. Nonetheless, it is of incredible importance, and
much of the development of the Internet, and of phenomena such as
Google, is posited on it. It is hugely important both to individual
freedom, and to the speed and breadth of innovation. And to the
market, as firms such as IBM have acknowledged in recent years --
this form of intellectual non-property'' is extremely potent in
the mix with established conventionally proprietory software.

As stands, the key limitation on open source software is copyright,
and that works very well indeed. Software patents, however, create
a huge impediment to writing open source software, introducing
civil liability in a non-commercial activity, with potentially
disastrous effects on civil society.

I would therefore ask you to use all your influence to oppose this
development, particularly during Ireland's EU presidency.

\closing{Yours sincerely,}
\end{letter}
\end{document}



Read this without the formatting.

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