24 January 2006

DRM's Evil Twin

I wrote below about the escalation of the DRM threat; now it looks like DRM's bigger and even more evil sibling is beginning to stir again. I'm talking about patents, specifically software patents. If DRM wants to put strict limits on what you do with content, patents are about tying down ideas - something even more pernicious.

The bad news is that the usual suspects are girding their loins for a re-run of the EU software patent battle they lost - against expectation - last year. As this Heise article explains (also available in a rather bumpy translation), they are worryingly upbeat about their prospects - not least because they only have to win once, whereas opponents of software patents have to keep on winning.

When I wrote a feature for The Guardian about the previous software patent battle, I exhorted readers to contact their MEPs using the excellent WriteToThem site. Until some concrete proposals on software patents are released, it's probably a little premature to start doing this. But don't worry, when it's time, I'll let you know.

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