[Linux-aus] Remember that petition on software patents?
ben at stumbles.id.au
Sat Nov 26 18:24:11 EST 2011
Remember that petition to the House of Representatives we ran this time
last year? It's been a big year and I've been meaning to tell you how
things went. The new developments are near the bottom.
I started typing up all 1000 email addresses on the petition, but
quickly gave up as there were so many and people's writing was very hard
to read. So for future updates on this issue, join the End Software Patents
Australia mailing list (very low traffic).
ESP mailing list:
As you'll remember, over several months, we collected 1000 signatures on
paper from members of the software industry. I want to publicly thank
those who put in the leg work (think 1000 times several minutes for each
squiggle on paper). Thankyou!
In February this year, our petition was accepted by the Petitions
Committee (one big batch of signatures, plus two small batches that came
in late). These were presented to the House on 21 February, 28 February
and 28 May respectively.
Hansard 21 February:
Hansard 28 February:
Hansard 23 May:
The petition was referred to Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation,
Industry, Science and Research.
Senator Carr's response:
The response acknowledges our petition and that much of the industry
wasn't aware of the opportunity to comment (2009) in the ACIP (Advisory
Council for Intellectual Property) review of patentable subject matter.
The ACIP's report was released on 16 February.
You'll remember that we missed the comment period in this review, but
around August 2010, we quickly organised an online letter to Senator
Carr and collected over 1000 names (thanks Slashdot!). Although the
final report above didn't recommend excluding computation and
information processing from patentable subject matter, we did at least
get a mention (search the above PDF for "software"):
A recent petition to the Minister signed by members of the computer
software industry argued that patents are not necessary to encourage
innovation in their industry, that the term of a patent (20 years)
is too long, and that the cost involved (in avoiding infringing
patents, and defending against patent lawsuits) is not viable,
particularly for small to medium-sized businesses.
As far as I know, the government haven't yet responded to the ACIP
report, though last week they did reference it in a response on Gene
This Thursday I'll be representing you at a Senate Committee Hearing as
the "principal petitioner". This is an opportunity for the committee to
hear more (ie. beyond 250 words) about our concerns and to ask
questions. If anyone is interested in watching, there is a small
gallery. Email me for details. I'm told the audio will be available on
the Parliamentary website and as text in Hansard.
Sorry for such a long message. I felt I owed it to you all though to
bring you up to date on the petition. I'll be talking more about the
campaign at Linux Conf Australia on 19 January 2012.
PS. Although I'm mailing to two free software related lists, I should
highlight that we represent the wider Australian software industry in
this campaign, not just the free software movement.
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