Saturday, April 30, 2005

Here is a link to the EuroLinux page, one of the key partners in the movement to save the European Union from becoming a place where it is impossible to legally develop or consult about software without being in a big company with a massive legal department. I`ll post more about the background soon, but basically the several-year long struggle will come to crisis point in May. The European Commission, backed by most EU member governments, is pushing a new Directive which will allow the patenting of, not just specific software programs, but the algorithms and logic which they implement. In other words, a patent on good ideas and common sense. The IT industry already suffers from a chronic lack of this - now it will become illegal as well. Despite a massive, sustained, and well-researched movement by small businesses and tens of thousands of software professionals (like me) against this movement, the Commission, as is its wont, wants to carry on regardless. Last month the European Parliament (the only directly-elected part of the three-part EU government, and the weakest!) rejected the Directive in its draft form, proposing several sensible amendments. The Commission does not want to accept this, and in May will propose the Directive again. This second time, only a full majority of all members of the Europarl will be enough to stop the crazy law getting through.
Those readers who think this is just a bunch of bearded geeks getting their knickers in a knot should think again. For instance, there has been a lot of noise in the press over the last 2 years about low-end middle class jobs in data processing, IT and other back-office functions being shipped off to India etc. Well India will be laughing if the EU passes this directive, as it will just add one more comparative advantage to the Indian IT industry - in this case, the ability to think about the customer`s business, and come up with a reasonable solution, without having to worry that Cap Gemini Ernst & Young came up with something vaguely similar a few years back and managed to patent it. If you want to know more, have a look at this site: http://www.eurolinux.org/

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