Thanks for the draft of the letter. I have one comment:
>> Mary Hannafin's, recent endorsement of the importance of open standards
The problem is she also said silly things about open source. Your letter
approves of what she said on open standards could be construed to assume
approval of her open source comments also. You should either remove Mary
Hannifin's name (eg. Replace it with "Irish Government"), or add an extra
line disagreeing with her open source comments. Apart from that, it is a
good letter. I ask others on this list to also send a copy to Mary Harney.
In addition, Brendan, could you ask the management team at University of
Limerick to send such a letter on UL-headed notepaper (and others to do the
same where they work). The more corporate/university support, the better.
Two people directly sent me emails about my posting yesterday. The first
said it way an issue better dealt with on the Free Software list
(http://www.ifso.info). I disagree - software patenting is not just a free
software problem - it most certainly will affect all commercial Irish
software creators, regardless of how they sell/give away their wares.
Indeed, the first serious effect of software patents will likely be Irish
small and medium sized software enterprises seeing their legal bills
exploding (just think how the lawyers have "helped" your insurance costs in
the past few years). The first rule of lawsuits is to go after those with
the money - a juicy target will be profitable Irish SMEs.
The second emailer asked (I am not sure if he was serious) if Irish people
really have a right to free speech? The answer is yes - Ireland is a
signatory to the The European Convention on Human Rights, which states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. this right shall include
freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information an ideas
without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This
article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of
broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and
responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions,
restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a
democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial
integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the
protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the
rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in
confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the
Though your right to free expression is qualified in some ways (e.g. the
protection of the reputation or the rights of others), otherwise it is quite
robust. If we agree software authors are writers, there is a strong legal
argument that this article 10 should apply to us.
I will close with a quote from the Novell Brainshare conference a few weeks
ago. Jack Messman, Novell CEO and Linus Torvalds are on stage sitting on two
bar stools (well, they looked like that). They are having a cozy question
and answer session (in front of 6,000 attendees). Messman asks: "So Linus,
what is your biggest worry today?". Linus replies "Software patents ..." and
goes on to explain the problem. I think we all agree that Linus should be
worrying about maximising I/O throughput, ccNUMA, security threats and other
issues, not software patents.
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