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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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« Rebirth of a Nation + Q&A at Harvard this Friday (Mar 11) | Main | The Politics of Spectrum Control »

March 7, 2005

European Council Gives Software Patents an "A"

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It looks like the European Council today "fixed" the "problem" with the multiple rebooting of discussion regarding EU software patents by breaking the rules for discussion. It just passed the EU software patent directive as an A-Item despite the requests for a B-Item from Denmark, Poland, Portugal and others.

According to ZDNet, Florian Mueller of NoSoftwarePatents.com says the Council claims the directive is being adopted to "ensure that the Council adheres to its processes and to avoid creating problems for other directives."


"We are adopting the position for institutional reasons so as not to create a precedent which might have a consequence of creating future delays in other processes," the minister said, according to Mueller.

Ah ha!...uhm, no, actually, I don't get it.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure has more detail:


  • Cyprus submitted a written declaration at the start of the Council session
  • Poland, Denmark, Portugal and others (not specified) asked for a B item (discussion point)
  • The Luxembourg presidency claimed this was not possible due to procedural reasons, and that this would have undermined the whole process -> it would stay on the list of A-items
  • Luxembourg then gave a long statement regarding how the EP still gets a chance in second reading, the importance of avoiding legal uncertainty etc.
  • Denmark said it was disappointed about this, but accepted and submitted a written declaration
  • Later on, the list of A items was accepted by the Council

Oh, I...no, wait. Still doesn't make any sense.

Groklaw , meanwhile, has piece admitting from the get-go that the situation is nigh-impossible to understand: "Don't ask me to explain it, because I can't."

One thing seems clear, however. The EU Parliament has the ball (again). It has 3 months to accept or amend the decision. And that means it's MEP-writing time. Warns Mueller, "The hurdle is very high as we need an absolute majority of every member of parliament, which means 367 MEPs for every amendment to the directive."

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations


COMMENTS

1. Alexander Wehr on March 7, 2005 11:18 AM writes...

Tammany hall.. eat your heart out! kinda gives me that warm fuzzy feeling for halliburton. makes the bush administration's midnight rewrites look reasonable by comparison.

too bad i'm not european.. or maybe it's a good thing? i dunno.. europeans lately show more american qualities than americans.. given theyre willing to stand up and shout when their liberties are trod upon.

Permalink to Comment

2. Andrew McGuinness on March 7, 2005 12:06 PM writes...

Practically, the Parliament does not have sufficient powers to defeat this directive now. An absolute majority on every amendment? That's not a democratic safeguard, it's a figleaf.

As for the Lisbon agenda, that's about improving the competitiveness of European economies. Compared to the enormous burden of tax and regulation the EU has imposed, software patents, even if they were a good idea, would be irrelevant.

I will be working hard to prevent this directive taking effect -- by campagning for my country to withdraw from the EU. That's more likely than achieving democracy within it.

Permalink to Comment

3. Branko Collin on March 7, 2005 9:36 PM writes...

"Parliament" is a bit of a misnomer. Real parliaments have law-writing powers, and do not answer to some shady commission and council of rejects and non-elects. The European Parliament is more of an advisory body than anything else.

Still, they do have blocking power, and crazier things have happened than 67% of Parliament showing up for a vote.

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