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Dutch Say No to Software Patent Directive

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the don't-forget-poland dept.

Patents 363

Rik writes "Thursday night the Dutch parliament has decided that the Dutch government should not vote for the EU Software Patent Directive at the European Council of Ministers next week. The decision of the Dutch parliament strengthens attempts of MEPs of the European Parliament to send the Software Directive back to the drawing board."

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but why the dutch (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639718)

smokin it up?

Re:but why the dutch (-1, Offtopic)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639746)

Nah.

They're taking a cue from our President.

They're smokin' out the damn patents from their burrowed lawyer-holes ;-)

Re:but why the dutch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639812)

The dutch just bitch slapped the rest of the eu like they were misbehaving schoolgirls. you may not have failed it but the dutch suceeded it!

Can't we get rid of patents altogether (1, Insightful)

Radiate (304468) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639722)

Can't we just get rid of the patent system!

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (5, Funny)

DenDave (700621) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639735)

God bless them cheeseheads! Lets all wear wooden clogs and chant stranges incantaions in recognition of their greatness!

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (5, Funny)

iwan-nl (832236) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639810)

Cheeseheads? You are lagging behind. For quite some time now, we are widthly known to be potheads.

All kidding aside, this is, imho, the first good decision our parliament has made in quite some time. Good to see there are still some remains of our once so liberal nation.

By the way, why would you chant strange incantaions in recognition of our greatness? Am I missing some reference to my own folklore here?

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639909)

s/widthly known/widely known/

Sorry hoor, maar je vraagt er zelf om in je sig :-P

Oh, en in-can-ta-tions.

Fout == fout ;-)

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (1)

iwan-nl (832236) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639989)

De sig is niet cynisch bedoelt. Bedankt voor de correctie.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (4, Funny)

Fruit (31966) | more than 9 years ago | (#11640010)

"bedoeld" :P

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (1)

DenDave (700621) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639947)

something I picked up in a dutch pub after a footbaal game"

la luhl ala luh lhuluh la la laaaa!!

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639975)

I don't know what 'luhl' means, but one time my cousin (who is Dutch) told me, while I was in Holland, that 'lul' meant hello. Well I got punched in the face. Ahhh family.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11640007)

lul = dick

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639736)

The problem isn't patents, the problem is the patent system. We need to invest more money in the patent system so that we can separate the "stupid" patents from the legitimate ones.

Now software patents, that is a whole 'nother ball game.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639921)

We need to invest more money in the patent system so that we can separate the "stupid" patents from the legitimate ones.

We don't necesseraly have to invest more money. Plain simple rules are cheaper and easier for everyone and make patents more valuable because a lot of todays uncertainty is removed. Business methods should be totally banned and every patent claim that can be implemented on a universal computing machine (software on computers). The rules have to be easy to understand and easy to follow. You will always have a gray zone of uncertainty but you can keep it as small as possible.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (1)

DenDave (700621) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639961)

Investing money... as if the patent office needs more of it.. perhaps a more general rule could determine the rights of creators.. something like copyright..

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (2, Interesting)

Barsema (106323) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639968)

How much money should we as a society spend on getting de patent system to work? perhaps there are better ways to spend taxpayer's money to encourage inovation. (grants, sponsoring)
Patents are a means to an end, not en end in itself.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (4, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639737)

...and what incentive will you have, sir, to protect your hard-work from those who'd not hesitate to rip it off you?

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (2, Interesting)

Radiate (304468) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639751)

I do not want to protect it. I want to share it so that mankind can benefit from my hard work.

And I will set up a donate with PayPal link for those who want to support me.

"...Now how do i glue the GPL onto a nuclear bomb..."

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (4, Insightful)

DigitumDei (578031) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639906)

Well fine, get rid of patents for software...

But to remove the patent system entirely? Many patents in the world outside of software are held by companies that spent millions developing them. You think a paypal donate link is going to benifit them when once their piece of hardware (or whatever) is out in the world and some 3rd world company reverse engineers it and takes all their profits?

Remove the ability to protect your research and the guy who can sell the product for the least amount of money gets the money. A company spends huge amounts in R&D cannot compete with a company that only steals ideas since the company that steals ideas has far less costs.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (4, Insightful)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639754)

Copyright- which has protected programmers för over 50 years !

Copyright won't protect you. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639945)

Copyright won't protect software from the effects of patents in any meaningful way.

Name one process software can do that can't be duplicated entirely with hardware. There isn't one.

Now explain why the existence of software suddenly throws doubt upon the wisdom of allowing process (method) claims to be patented.

Change the rules to exclude software from being patented and the same thing can be made to look like hardware. Inventions in some technologies (such as many types of embedded systems, communications/multiplexing, data coding, and on) have reached the point where it's common to see the statement that the invention could be made of software, firmware, hardware, or some combination of one or more of these things.

The most prolific slashdotters on this topic will throw up their hands and compose a bold new manifesto with some self-serving stuff about how it's slowing everyone down from becoming a keyboard peripheral device as soon as possible. Blaaah!

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639788)

How many _patents_ do you own? How many patents does your average small-to-medium software house or single (shareware?) programmer own?

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639795)

FWIW, last year I saw some report that mentioned the total number of software patents held by Dutch companies was 4.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639959)

That is total BS, my father works for Philips and has two software patents under the EPO. There are hundreds of software patents held by the Dutch.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (4, Interesting)

R.Caley (126968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639843)

and what incentive will you have, sir, to protect your hard-work from those who'd not hesitate to rip it off you?

Patent's don't protect your work, copyrights do that.

Patents are a licence to rip off other people's work, granted by the state as an incentive for you to publish your work. There were perfectly good reasons for this at the time the system developed, but few if any of the reasons still exist.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (2, Informative)

klmth (451037) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639879)

Actually, patents are a temporary monopoly on a design. How you choose to use that monopoly is up to you - you can choose to license it to others, or you can choose to be the sole supplier of your design.

In some countries, there laws that force the licensing of patents if there is no implementation available within a reasonable time-frame.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (2, Insightful)

R.Caley (126968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639911)

Actually, patents are a temporary monopoly on a design.

They are rather wider than that. They are monopolies on an idea. It's not just the specific design of the Amazon one-click buying system which was claimed.

Whichis where the ability to rip of other people's work comes from. If I have a patent and you, in ignorance, produce a better implementation than mine of that idea, I can assume control of your work.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (4, Insightful)

file-exists-p (681756) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639985)


Dear Sir,

I am a programmer and a researcher in computer science, thus one of those supposed to benefit from a software patent system. And frankly, both from what I have experienced personnaly and from what I see in the press, I dont feel protected *at all* by software patents.

Software patents are so silly that any dispute related to them can not be based on rational argument and any form of justice that should derive from it. Those disputs are pure lawyer technical fights. They require money and are possible only between big entities (read corporations).

So, Sir, software patents are not an incentive at all. They are a way to lock the market to keep small structures and individuals out. Anybody saying the opposite is a liar or an idiot.

--
Go Debian!

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (5, Insightful)

klmth (451037) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639798)

Interesting proposition.

The patent system was originally instated to grant an inventor a temporary and artificial monopoly on a new invention. The first patents are found in the 15th century in the republic of Venice.
Patent abuse is nothing new. Prior to the enactement of the Statute of Monopolies in 1623, the crown would issue letters patent providing any person with a "monopoly" to produce particular goods or provide particular services. This was abused by the crown, leading to the legislation setting a term limit for the monopolies granted by a patent.

Most people seem to agree that granting an inventor a patent for novel idea or implementation fosters innovation. Let's say I invent a non-obvious and novel idea for building a smaller, lighter and more secure watertight latch for use in large cargo ships. Using this door would save shipbuilders lots of money in materials and labours. If there are no patents to protect me, any other company or individual could reverse engineer my design and sell a knock-off. Since they have little R&D costs to recuperate, they can sell it a cheaper price than me, thus preventing me from recuperating my R&D costs.

The patent system works by granting me a temporary monopoly on my design. I can choose to license it to other manufacturers, so that if they choosem to enter the market, I can still recoup my development costs.

The problem with the patent system today is that the patents are often not in the hands of those that produce and implement the patents in question. Instead, they are concentrated into holding companies that use them to cash in on patent infringments. Often these patents are neither novel nor non-obvious, so many have no idea they are infringing on a patent before they are slapped with a lawsuit.
If this model of business was to be made unprofitable, many of the problem with the patent system would vanish.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639894)

Actually, there are more problems with these. While you do point out acurately, that holding companies are abusing these, there is another more common abuse.

A person will obtain a patent and then start a small company(1-5 ppl). However, a large company who watches it sees the potential and simply decides to do the same, but without paying for the patent. The small guy can not afford to take on a big company.

Now, one of the better examples to most here is MS vs. all the small companies that they do this to. What they are counting on, is stalling it in the courts and then paying just a fraction of what it has earned them. In the mean time, they have wiped out the company or buy them at a fraction of what they would have at the height of the company.

But they are no worse (and in fact, better) than many other medium to small. My father has a patent for a archery product. When a larger company decided that they liked it, they started manufactuering their own. When he spoke up and threatened lawsuit, the larger company simply went to all the stores where it was sold at, and stopped them from distributing his product. Since they were not a convicted monopoly, they are not watched by the feds. But they damage is there. And this goes on all the time

Basically, the patent does not protect the little guys. The high costs of the legal system prevents any real action. But it does allow a large company to harass the little guy.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (4, Insightful)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 9 years ago | (#11640001)

The problem isn't solely that inventors themselves aren't the ones receiving the patents;

The problem is also that the number of "inventors" in the realm of computer programming is very very big.

On the left hand: How many people are there that can tinker at home, and make special types of macrophages, or whatever it is that biologists do in research time?

On the right hand: How many people are there who can apply XOR to draw cursors on their home computers? I was doing that when I was 12, and I don't consider myself particularly bright.

The definition of "obvious" or "non-obvious" is not clear. I can easily imagine the baffled patent examiner, considering the XOR drawing algorithm. "Wow! This guy knows about bits, and logic gates, and,... other complicated stuff. Hot damn, that can't be obvious. We gotta do something about this... We gotta... Make sure nobody else does this for 20 years!"

20 years!

Even if the programmers are the ones receiving the checks for their "invention," we still have the same problem:

Specifically, the patent system is prohibiting innovation rather than encouraging it.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (4, Insightful)

LourensV (856614) | more than 9 years ago | (#11640003)

That is one thing, but I also think there is something else more specific to software, and it's not a theoretical but a practical difference.

By far most software in use today is custom-made. People create websites, design databases, and implement business rules. Just check the size of the IT consulting business. The stuff that you see on the shelf is just the tip of the iceberg.

So, the incentive for innovation is not money, it's the simple fact that you're working on a project and your customer has requested feature X. So you figure out a way to implement it. Your development costs are paid directly by your customer, and even if you did not have patent protection and everyone else implemented the same feature in the software they're writing for their customers, you'd still get paid.

Hence, innovation would still occur if software patents did not exist. Software is a service, as they say, and if you work is protected by copyright, others must do the same work (implementing feature X) again.

The big problem with software patents as they exist in the USA today, is that it is these features (one-click shopping for example) that are patented. That just doesn't make sense. It essentially gives the patent holder the right to tax anyone who implements that particular feature, in exchange for what? Thinking up new features? I don't think we need incentives for that.

Re:Can't we get rid of patents altogether (1)

R.Caley (126968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639895)

Some modest proposals for a perhaps useful software patent system:
  • Lifetime of patent limited to something in keeping with software development lifecycle. Say 5 years. (that is long enough to sell alot of copies and time to develop your next idea)
  • Patent only enforcable while the holder has a product available which uses the patented mechanism. (no submarines)
  • The source code of the up to date version of the relevent part of that product must be kept published and in the public domain at all times during the lifetime of the patent.
So, you get your monopoly for a time to get money out of it, but at the end of that time everyone gets a working implementation of the idea to start from. This basicly reflects the original intent of patents - it exchanges a limited time monopoly for the idea being published and available for others to learn from and to use at the end of the monopoly.

Basicly, what if software patents were a lever for creation of more free software.

Meanwhile, LOKITORRENT has been 0WnED (0, Offtopic)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639981)

loki dead

40000000000000 users move to new site

does the mpaa have any say inside china?

just wait till theres are 50000 mirrors

SLASHDOT IS BANKRUPT! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639734)

Hi there. Do you know why Slashdot is such a morally banktupt website?

Read this: http://slashdot.org/~NRAdude/journal/98058 [slashdot.org]

Re:SLASHDOT IS BANKRUPT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639775)

You can't spell you sensative clod!

Re:SLASHDOT IS BANKRUPT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639799)

Your use of the word "sensative" is very touching to me and "clod", reminds me of a warm bowl of clam chowder...

Re:SLASHDOT IS BANKRUPT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639856)

I'm vegetarian you insensitive clod.

Re:SLASHDOT IS BANKRUPT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639948)

Vegetarian? You'ld eat my ass, just for me? I can see why your dyke roomate's cold turkey is less appealing to my crotch carrot, but why only the corn-hole cassarole? My clods are verry sensative. use spork.

I hate EU (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639742)

As an American patriot I hate EU because it makes me hate my own corrupted government who only wants to do what's best for corporations, don't giving a damn about small business or open source. Damn you Europeans! You make me sick! Sick of jealousy!

Re:I hate EU (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639764)

No shit Sherlock. It seems that only European politicians have any balls. Can you imagine US politicians not bending over before millionaires from IBM, Microsoft, etc.? I can't. But every time I read about the EU it feels like some kind of a naive science fiction utopia when the governments are actually doing their jobs working for people, not against them, like in Star Trek, except that it's not an utopia but a reality, only an ocean away from us. Will we ever have such a government in The Land Of Free?

Re:I hate EU (2)

quintesse (654840) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639807)

It must be pretty bad on the other side of the pond if you think the system here is worth feeling jealous about!

Wait a minute... Bush 2! OMG, you're right! ;-)

Re:I hate EU (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639962)

It must be pretty bad on the other side of the pond if you think the system here is worth feeling jealous about!

You have no fucking idea. US is a police state. Torturing, propaganda, abuse of power, starting wars with no good reason - you name it. Everyone should be proud that he's not an American. Don't let the US media and movies fool you. Search informations about Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, about CIA involvement in overthrowing democratically elected governments and installing violent dictators... USA is a hell to live in, and there is only one place that is worse: a country that for some reason US wants to attack. And keep in mind that US is the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons of mass destruction against civilians - twice! This is scary stuff once you know more than Hollywood and Fox News wants you to know. Believe me.

Re:I hate EU (1)

muttoj (572791) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639765)

Sometimes I feel a certain proudness of being dutch.

One of the worlds most progressive country.

Re:I hate EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639789)

And you've got Ayreon, and people who say "Doei!"

Re:I hate EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639806)

And you should. Dutch, Germans, Poles, French should all be proud, not because of who they are, but because of what they do and because they can ellect a fair government. Unfortunately, we Americans can only be proud of who we are, because there is nothing we do that we can be proud of. We all vote for "the second most evil guy" to not "waste our vote" and we get what we deserve. Europeans "waste" their votes in every election voting for people who they actually want elected the most, and it is not surprising that those people do what the public wants. This is how the democracy should work. Europeans should be proud that they can make the democracy work. They have great results. All we have is an empty patriotism and laughable megalomania. Our kids can salute to our flag and recite "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" every day because that's all they really have - an illusion. And this is all our fault, people. We can't blame anyone else but us.

Re:I hate EU (2, Interesting)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639965)

I'm sorry but I don't think that the French political system is democratic.
And before calling me names : I am French but I now live in Switzerland which is far more evolved than France.
For example, provided enough people sign a petition about a given matter, there WILL be a referendum.
Majority has to be gained by both the population AND the cantons which makes it even more secure for lowly populated areas to get their voices heard.

Re:I hate EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11640004)

Switzerland is far more evolved than EVERYWHERE. Viva Lucerne.

Re:I hate EU (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639808)

On the flip side, the EU is a horrible, huge, barely functional, partly non-democratic beurocratic nightmare which makes the US government look like a small anarchist collective. If the Repulicans amongst you think the US government is too big; 'hoo boy, you ain't seen the EU.

Personally I think it's about time we killed off the European Commision & European Parlimant entirely and moved to a US style two house system with directly elected officials. The rotating presidency should stay, though. That's actually one thing that works pretty well.

Re:I hate EU (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639923)

On the flip side, the EU is a horrible, huge, barely functional, partly non-democratic beurocratic nightmare which makes the US government look like a small anarchist collective.

Oh yeah, the EU is a horrible, huge, barely functional, partly non-democratic beurocratic nightmare and that's why Dutch have no software patents and don't get sued for writing software, don't go to jail for smoking a joint, don't go to jail for sleeping with a 17 years old girl, are not discriminated because they're gay, and don't end up being tortured in fucking Guantanamo [wikipedia.org] if they are suspected of being "terrists"! Yeah, here in the US we have a fascist government but at least it is an efficient fascist government! That makes me really sleep better.

BTW, what's less democratic in EU than it is in US? At least European states are sovereign and can leave the union without starting a civil war [wikipedia.org] !

Yeah, Insightful my ass. Are you mods on crack?

Re:I hate EU (3, Informative)

Colm Buckley (589428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639994)

If the Repulicans amongst you think the US government is too big; 'hoo boy, you ain't seen the EU.

The EU directly employs about 30,000 people. The U.S. Federal Government directly employs about 1,900,000 people. Work it out.

Re:I hate EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639971)

May I suggest I'm french, sir ?
Please have mercy of me. :)

Original article (dutch) (5, Informative)

smooc (59753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639748)

here [webwereld.nl]

Besides that, I wonder this means they (=Brinkhorst) is actually going to vote or will abstain which would basically mean yes.

Re:Original article (dutch) (4, Informative)

SYRanger (590202) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639781)

From the article:

This means that the Dutch government is instructed to *vote against* the Software Patent Directive if it is put on the agenda at a meeting of the European Council of Ministers next week

It seems like they will actively vote against. SYRanger

Re:Original article (dutch) (2, Informative)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639914)

But in previous discussions Brinkhorst has stated he will not vote against even if instructed so, because he considers loss of face more important than this case.
(he has voted in favour before, then claiming it did not matter because it was not the final decision but only a decision to go ahead)

Re:Original article (dutch) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639794)

"Als het aan de Tweede Kamer ligt, mag de richtlijn voor softwarepatenten voorlopig namelijk niet als hamerstuk op de agenda van een Europese raad voor ministers verschijnen. Als Luxemburg (op dit moment de voorzitter van de Europese Commissie) de richtlijn toch wil agenderen, moet de Nederlandse regering zich daartegen verzetten, zo heeft de Kamer besloten."

that says it all. There will be no voting on 17th. feb, Brink-morron has to prevent the directive from being voted.

Link to proceeding of Dutch parliament (in Dutch) (1)

TakaIta (791097) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639876)

The proceedings of the meeting in parliament can be found here [tweedekamer.nl] (Word document).

Re:Original article (dutch) (2)

dirkx (540136) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639944)

But again - like the last vote - the parliament stops short of ordering the cabinet; it merely request nicely that should things be brough up for the agenda it should abstain from supporting the item. Althouhg this time the parliament is equesting such - last time round, a few months ago, it merely asked. So some improvement :-)

But this is still a far cry from a parliament which tells it minister to vote no (and promises to kick the cabinet out if they does otherwise). And given the past (and the voting lines) one could well imagine some politicians voting yes to be polular - while working behind the scene to make clear to the cabinet that should they sail a different line - they have the coalitions suport anyway.

Shame,

Dw.

Best response possible (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639757)

Woohoo :-))

Eventually even the EU will have to pay lip service to what the people want, It may be the most undemocratic system of government I've ever come across, but it at least has to maintain the ideal of being the voice of the people...

Simon.

Re:Best response possible (1)

ooze (307871) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639866)

Actually the system of the gouvernment is only of secondary importance. What's by far more important is the people who run it. And although it is never easy to find people to run a gouvernment who are able to do it and are willing to do it for the people, finding those people in the US is virtually impossible with their political culture.

Background information from FFII (4, Informative)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639766)

Re:Background information from FFII (1)

oever (233119) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639969)

The text of the debate (in Dutch). [tweedekamer.nl] .

in Microsoft Word format! So no Open Source, but (relatively) Open Democracy.

Great move! (1)

Phidoux (705500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639768)

Let's just hope that a few other countries sit up and take notice.

GREAT!!! but what would happen if....? (2, Interesting)

michalf (849657) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639770)

I am glad that the patents are being moved away.

But my doubt is: what would happen IF Polish minister Marcinski had not vetoed the patent bill in December? Was it really so close? I mean - was the majority in the EU parlament for the software patents or against them in December 2004? Why only one veto?

best regards - michal

Re:GREAT!!! but what would happen if....? (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 9 years ago | (#11640006)

No, the majority in the EU Parliament were, and are, *against* software patents - largely because their constituants made such a fuss about them - however, the EU Council of Ministers (Currently lead by the Dutch) decided that they were being paid too much money by business interests to allow such a democratic decision to stand, so they've been trying for the last 6 months to force the legislation through regardless.

It's been widely seen as one of the least democratic actions ever taken by the council of ministers, which is quite a statement given its record.

Thank the Dutch, but not their government (5, Informative)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639774)

71 voted in favour, 69 against. Note that the Dutch parliament has 150 seats, so an extremely close call - could have gone the other way if some more people bothered to vote, it seems.

Voting was along party lines, but the Dutch parliament is like a zoo: in favour were PvdA (labour, largest leftish-center party), SP (socialist, populist, at heart even maoist...), GroenLinks (merger of communist, pacifist, green parties), D'66 (center party, slightly leftish, pro-education, pro-democratic reform), ChristenUnie (leftish christian party). Against were CDA (traditional biggest party, center, christian), VVD (what we call "liberal", i.e. pro-free market, pro-business, traditional values, typical rightish), SGP (right wing hardline christians).

Currently government is formed by CDA, VVD and D'66, who together have a slim majority. So this win is because D'66 defected, and SGP is slightly smaller. D'66 is much the smallest party in government, and this is certainly not what government wanted (remember they pushed hard to pass the directive in the last few meetings of the Dutch EU presidency end of last year). The minister pushing then was Brinkhorst (D'66!).

Anyway, this is the first time I see D'66 do something that makes me actually happy with the vote I gave them :-)

Re:Thank the Dutch, but not their government (1)

defMan (175410) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639831)

Anyway, this is the first time I see D'66 do something that makes me actually happy with the vote I gave them :-)

If that is the first time it might be better to give your vote to the SP (Socialist Party) who gave us this motion and have been fighting against software patents all along.

Re:Thank the Dutch, but not their government (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639885)

Unfortunately I don't really agree with the rest of their viewpoints...

I'm suprised by this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639834)

"VVD (what we call "liberal", i.e. pro-free market, pro-business, traditional values, typical rightish), "

I'm suprised, by the sound of your description VVD should be against software patents, and for free market competition.

Re:I'm suprised by this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639955)

You're absolutely right. The VVD "should" be against software patents. However, government types, and civil servants, and also most other non-thinking people view "big business" as the only form of business. Multinationals are given priority in every way while small business is ignored.

Which is very wrong. Multinationals contribute relatively little to the economy and pay almost no taxes, whilst small businesses, of which there are hundreds of thousands, provide far more employment and pay all the taxes. Big business favours software patents and IP laws, small business doesn't.

Democracy, anyone?

Re:Thank the Dutch, but not their government (2, Funny)

Namespace Full (858460) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639904)

Please don't insult zoos this way. A zoo - unlike the Dutch parliament - contains animals with a free will.

Re:Thank the Dutch, but not their government (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639918)

Hey, suddenly I notice - it seems the entire LPF abstained then? The LPF ("List Pim Fortuyn") is the incompetent remains of the party murdered politician Pim Fortuyn was building. He was killed before the elections, and the people who are in government in his name since then are amateur chaotic right-wing morons who are only busy with internal fights, frauds, leadership changes etc. They do have 8 seats, and apparently they didn't vote.

Re:Thank the Dutch, but not their government (1)

Djatha (848102) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639964)

Hmm, you have forgotten the LPF in your description of dutch politic parties. Suprisingly they voted not against, but then, the LPF seems to be a populistic mix of all kinds of (political) ideas. May be they have need of a brand new leader :-) Ow, and there are two people who form their own party: Wilders and Lazrak, respectively Groep Wilders and Groep Lazrak. One coming from the VVD and the other from the SP. What they have voted, I have no idea, but normally they seem not be able to talk sense, so I guess they have not voted at all.

Hello IBM!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639776)

You know IBM could actually lobby for this in favour of open source and raising the bar of patentability but thats not what's happening here. Whereas Microsoft are hovering around this onein brussels but now not a peep from IBM - because they know *really* what they want. Dont IBM have some sort of relationship with Linux and OSDL too? (irony)

Why am I thinking of Orwells "Animal Farm" now?

Finally (2, Insightful)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639777)

Finally, the Dutch play a more positive role in this debacle. However, there is still the problem that decisions of the Dutch Parliament may be ignored by its governmental representatives in the EU (it happened before with the software patenting mess). Unfortunately, software patent news is small potatoes, so they won't lose a significant amount of votes by going against the wishes of the Parliament. And on the other side of the fence there are their buddies of Philips, who really would like to have software patents in Europe. And, they reason, what is good for Philips, is good for the Dutch economy. Personally, I think software patents are also bad for Philips, but IANAL.

Re:Finally (1)

quintesse (654840) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639824)

Philips has since then said they would be happy as well if things remained the way they are now.

You just gotta love this phrase (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639778)

"In contrast, in this case, the "political agreement" does not really exist. It is pure fiction. Once you call a vote, multiple Member States needed for a majority would vote against.

Therefore, in this case the whole point of avoiding the vote is not the legitimate reason of saving time, but the deeply disturbing wish to fabricate a majority where there is none."

Nail on head.

Would someone explain me... (4, Interesting)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639779)

the convoluted European political system? Dutch Parliament, European Parliament, Council of Ministers, my head is spinning. It all sounds like some retro Soviet political wet dream.

Anyway, the Dutch Parliament, which I assume speaks for the Dutch people, decided against software patents. OK, so why should they end up with software patents after all is said and done if the Dutch Parliament voted against them? Do the individual governments of the member states not retain their sovereignty in the EU? I realize that for the EU to function as, well, the European Union, it has to have some political will. How far does this politcal will extend?

Just asking.

Re:Would someone explain me... (5, Informative)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639850)

Each country in the EU is sovereigen and has their own government, which is controlled by their own parliament.

The governments work together in the the Council of Ministers of the EU. Here political deals are made - governments that are against patents may agree if they can get some extra agriculture subsidies in return, whatever. They can claim at home that they were against but the pressure of other countries was too high.

In theory the EU parliament controls that process, but their powers are far too weak. Perhaps the proposed "EU Constitution" will meredy this, I don't know. Governments say that giving the EU parliament more power is giving up national sovereignity (i.e., the power countries have to make shady deals).

Voting in the Council must be unanymous. A directive that is finally accepted must be implemented by all the member countries.

Re:Would someone explain me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639978)

>>perhaps the proposed "EU Constitution" will meredy this

Hence the majority of 'Europeans' (if there is such a thing) are against it.

Re:Would someone explain me... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639871)

Yes, the EU is infact the new USSR, but don't worry you're quite safe over in the land of the free and home of the brave as long as you keep your tinfoil hat on and carry an assault rifle at all times.

God bless America and the Divine Leader George W. Bush!

Re:Would someone explain me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639901)

I'm no expert either:

laws are made by the national parliaments.
but EU creates guidelines the national laws must conform to.
so atm each country can have their own laws about software patents, which have to change when a guideline by the EU is published.

those are created either by the EU parliament or the council of ministers. nobody really understands which is responsible for what.
it seems to be the council in this case.

each member country sends a minister to it.
the EU parliament is directly voted by people.

Re:Would someone explain me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639908)

The EU system is a mix of national sovereignity and super state.

The Minister Council of the EU (representatives from the countries' elected governments) creates "directives". The directives can be blocked given one unwilling minister in the Minister Council.

The EU Parliament (directly elected by the people) can pass or block these directives based on a majority descision.

Once passed and signed, a directive is something that the member states have to implement in one way or another into their national law, given some time.

If somebody feels that a member state hasn't implemented a directive good enough in the national law, the national law can be brought up in front of the EEC Court that decides if the particular national law has to be changed or not.

Donate today! (3, Informative)

Zeroth_darkos (311840) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639790)

I'll say it again.
Don't want to see software patents in EU? Want to do something about it?
Donate money to FFII today:
http://ffii.org/money/account/index.en.html [ffii.org]

"should" vs. "must" (1)

Angstroem (692547) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639804)

It's a nice thing that they decided that the voting should be made against the EU software patent directive -- but in the end, this might mean nothing at all. How about deciding that they must vote against it?

In Germany there's also broad consensus about voting should be made against that directive, however, certain people in power vote for what they've been paid for instead of what they should vote for.

Or look at Poland: first voted for it, then decided to be against it, and now in a status of "oh, in case we're the only ones against we'd also vote for it".

Re:"should" vs. "must" (3, Informative)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639822)


How about deciding that they must vote against it?

They can't, the Dutch government isn't bound by motions from the Dutch parliament.

Re:"should" vs. "must" (1)

hdparm (575302) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639920)

What is the point of parliamentary democracy then?

Re:"should" vs. "must" (1)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639938)

Well, the parliament can send the whole government home if they really think it's completely ignoring it's will. Additionally, the vote of the parliament is binding when they have to vote about a law, it's just not binding when they file a motion.

Re:"should" vs. "must" (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639946)

They must vote to accept all new laws, they have the power to change laws before accepting them, they can enter original laws and accept them, they vote on accepting the budget, they can send ministers home, etc.

But the thing that is called a "motie" is not binding to government. In this case they have said they will carry it out though.

Re:"should" vs. "must" (1)

hdparm (575302) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639990)

I don't really know how hot this issue is in Holand but let's asume it is. Very hot. We have a situation where parliament suggests a motion, govt declares support but due to possible 'games' on the EU level, they are forced to ignore the motion.

Can this be heavy enough reason for parliament to oust the cabinet and is there a mechanism in Holand constitution to vote governmet out just on motion grounds?

Re:"should" vs. "must" (1)

Colm Buckley (589428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11640009)

The Dutch government isn't bound by motions from the Dutch parliament.

Er. Yes, it is, actually. In all EU countries, the government governs on sufferance of the parliament, and the government must adhere to any motions legally passed by the parliament.

Translated from the WebWereld article... (2, Funny)

Arduenn (823516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639823)

State secretary Karien van Gennip (Economic Affairs) urged not to accept the motion against software patents by using the following argument: Luxemburgh, EU chair, responsible for putting software patents on the agenda, should not be discredited or restrained. That's one hell of an argument! Oooo! Let's not upset the Luxemburgians!

Re:Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639896)

All three of them...

Re:Translated from the WebWereld article... (1)

4im (181450) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639991)

Oooo! Let's not upset the Luxemburgians!

If that's their argument, don't bother - we the luxembourgish people (ok, the IT knowledgeable ones anyway) will gladly accept that "upsetting" of our government, if it rids us of software patents.

The different lux. parties are all +- against software patents anyway, at least representatives in the parliament are. The government unfortunately always has had a rather ambiguous position.

Some additional notes on this (4, Informative)

neanderlander (637187) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639839)

The result of the decision by the dutch goverment is that the Central European Commission cannot continue with it's intention to put the proposal on the agenda for approval. Instead the European parlement has the initiative again: they can rethink the whole plan. The major problem with the current proposal is that it allows for strong ownership/copyright of software-solutions, making it difficult for other parties to expand and further improve on current software, since lot of features may be protected. While i generally support protection of idea's and developments, i consider the software world still a developing one. Strong protection of idea's might easily lead to a halt in new software developments, a concentration of innovative power in that hands of those who already have the power to begin with. Software isn't just good enough right now and the 'powers that are' haven't proven they can innovate the way that is beneficial to us users. And stricter laws won't change that as well. Patenting is intended to reward those that invest in developing new idea's. I think there are still many many commonly shared idea's on how to improve software. For the moment, to develop those idea's, all that is needed is time, time to develop. So companies have a way of protecting their investment: they invest the time, and get a lead on their rivals that didnt invest the time in that particular advancement. When the time comes when significant advancements in software are the result of intense high cost investments and true developement of new idea's and insights, then more strict protecting laws should be applied.

Netherlands == Paradise (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639851)

Questions:

1. Do you have to worry about breaking the law by writing your own software? No.
2. Do you have to worry about breaking the law by smoking a joint? No.
3. Do you have to worry about breaking the law by sleeping with a girl below 18? No.

Conclusions:

1. Move to Netherlands.
2. Have a peace of mind.
3. Profit.

Re:Netherlands == Paradise (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11639928)

Actually, you're still a nerd so getting the girl (no matter what age) remains a problem. But then...

4. Do you have to worry about law forbiding you to love your mare? No. [wanadoo.nl] :D

Can you trust the patent system? (4, Informative)

OwlWhacker (758974) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639852)

Perhaps it was incidents like this [theregister.co.uk] that persuaded the Dutch parliament to make this decision.

if this continues.. (1)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639924)

We might actually win without even have to go to the EU parliament again.

That's about the 4th or 5th country where the national parliament instructed their government not to vote for the directive.

But then again, some caution should remain: the dutch parliament has asked the minister before to change votes, but he merrily ignored that. It is surprising, often, how many time (and how much) so-called democratic governments completely disregard the democratic principle they have sworn to uphold.

If it DOES goe back for a second reading, our anti-swp movement will have to agree (and decide) what we are going to aim for, IMHO.

Do we want the EU parliament then to make a compromise (not a good idea, since the amended version was already the bear minimal, a 'compromise' would probably come out totally bork)? Do we want a complete rejection by the EU parliament? Do we want it back on the drawingboard and have a first reading again?

This might be important, since if it comes that far, we'll have to have 2/3 of a majority. I think option 2 or 3 have the most chance of getting that majority, since even pro-swp-MEPs (like McCarthy) have (in the JURI) voted to restart the process so that we can 'better research the impact of swp on SMEs'.

A reformed patent system (5, Interesting)

thodu (530182) | more than 9 years ago | (#11639967)

Here is an idea for patent reform. The person/organization that applies for a patent has to also submit evidence of the amount of resources (time and money) spent on the invention. In return, patent law, will grant them patent protection for upto 20 times the investment. Either they earn 20 times the money spent or they have protection of 20 times the number of hours spent . The number "20" is just something off the top of my head for now. Thus Jeff Bezos, after proving that it really took him all of 1 week only focussing on coming up with the 1-click process will have patent protection for 20 weeks, while a big drug company spending $1 billion on a new drug will have patent protection till it earns $20 billion on the same. If the drug company spent 4 years on developing the drug, they may also get protection for 80 years in case the $20 billion in royalties is not reached before that. In a fast changing world, 20 years of blanket patent protection for every small idea is simply too much.
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