Open Source

Anticipating Round 2: European Software Patents – a potential hindrance of ICT in education

A call for action on a common preemptive statement against possible European-wide software patents

Europe is going to witness its first ever European wide conference on Open Source for Education. Very exiting, a lot of delegates have signed up, and prepared papers and presentations on local actions and programmes. (

The conference has allocated some time for a session to discuss the issue of potential European software patents with the idea in mind of creating a statement by the European Open Source for Education community against possible European software patents as they were introduced in a directive on Computer Implemented Inventions.

In July 2005 the European Parliament rejected the proposed European software patent law (i.e. the directive on Computer Implemented Inventions) after years of ping-ponging between European institutions and fierce lobbying by both the pros and con sides. This directive sought to regulate the scope of patentability of software within the EU.

(If you are not familiar with the issue, seek information and points of argument at the following site:

No Software Patents!

Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure and )

The second round of this battle is anticipated.  However, little explicit and clear information exist on how and when. The European Open Source for Education community should therefore seize the opportunity and draft a preemptive position to be ready for the second round.

This topic is rarely mentioned with regards to the field of e-learning.  However, the ramifications of the European software patent directive as it was proposed are quite serious.  Therefore it is important that this issue be thoroughly discussed by those of us in the field so that we may present a common and unified position.

Your help is now needed to submit ideas to draft the statement. Here are some proposed arguments concerning how software patents could potentially harm the European e-learning field if passed:

First, the cost of applications could become higher because of the software patent system; the choice of available software could become limited, and costs of using underlying communication structures, operating systems and any software could increase.

Second, it could have a negative effect on "in-house" and/or open source development of educational applications. Many European Educational authorities (Ministries of Education, National Boards of education, school networks (, universities and small and medium size entreprieces (SME)) develop educational platforms and applications for educational use. Money spent on defending against software patent litigation would be better spent on development, education and training.

Third, the roll-out of educational FOSS in education could be jeopardised by the danger of software patents. (use the conference as a good example of positive development in the field).

Questions and suggestions are welcome on the following issues. In addition, please include other issues that you would like to raise.

  • Should the statement against possible software patents only be about educational open source software or the whole field of e-learning?
  • Any more arguments that should be integrated into the document
  • Any exapmples in the field of education that we should use for making our case more clear
  • Who should receive this preemptive statement? (national and regional parliaments to create pressure on their governments to act against possible similar directives, European Parliament, European Commission, ..)?
  •  Should we say something like "we align ourselves with the European Parliament amendments of the previous directive" (maybe not), or with the FFII position, …any other?
  • Possibly urge the national parliaments to file a motion based on the work that the European Parliament already did (the 21 compromise amendments)?

We are planning to ask you sign this preemptive statement and distribute it around to all the relevant communities here in Europe and elsewhere. The statement will be hosted right here at Flosse Posse.

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