Scientists against new EU Patent Law
Last week, 30 authoritative scientists and software innovators from all over Europe signed a petition against the proposed new EU Directive on Patent Law. In their letter to members of the European Parliament they argue that allowing for patents on computer programs will seriously harm innovation in information technology and endanger the future of the European Union.
Literally they write: “Acceptance of patentability of algorithms, of principles of software, of information processing methods or of data structures is scandalous from the view point of ethics, economically unjustified and harmful, would impact adversely scientific and technical innovation, and puts democracy at danger.”
The petition arrives just in time to influence the vote in the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market (JURI), on 28 April. Previous votes in the parliamentary committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy (ITRE) and the committee on Culture, Youth, Education, Media and Sport (CULT) showed a majority against the proposals from the European Commission. A previous petition for the public at large, organised by the Eurolinux Alliance, drew 140.000 signatures against patents on computer programs. Public consultation by the European Commission itself showed 90 percent of the answers against the proposal.
In spite of all that, a majority in the JURI committee seems to be in favour of the proposed new Directive, pushed hard by its rapporteur Arlene McCarthy. Members of the European Parliament are organising a hearing for owners of small and medium-size companies on 8 May, while Eurolinux and the German-based lobby group FFII are organising a very interesting conference, starting on 7 May with a keynote by Lawrence Lessig, followed by a dialogue with Brian Kahin.
Scientists petition (in Spanish, English and French, scroll to the bottom of the page!) Page also contains excellent multi-lingual references to the opinions of the different parliamentary committees
Text of the proposed new directive (20.02.2003 – in English)
Parliamentary hearing and conference