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[ox-en] Fwd: Porto Alegre Social Forum targets software intellectual property

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Date:  Wed, 16 Feb 2005 12:50:41 [PHONE NUMBER REMOVED]
From:  "Volker Grassmuck [c]"
Subject:  [wos] Porto Alegre Social Forum targets software intellectual
	property [signed]
To:  wos

[1 Mail message body <text/plain; ISO-8859-1 (8bit)>]
Porto Alegre Social Forum targets software intellectual property

eGovernment News - 07 February 2005 - Global - Open Source Software

During a debate on the ?digital revolution? held at the World Social
Forum on 29 January 2005, a number of prominent personalities
questioned the way intellectual property is applied to software.

The aim of the debate was to discuss issues related to open source
software, freedom of knowledge and freedom of expression within the
Information Society. Participants included Gilberto Gil, singer,
composer and current Brazilian Minister of Culture, Manuel Castells,
Spanish sociologist and Information Society specialist, Prof.
Lawrence Lessing, co-founder of Creative Commons, John Perry Barlow,
co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Christian
Ahlert from the Oxford Internet Institute.

"The main obstacle to Internet development is the use of intellectual
property as a form of profit", stated Mr Castells. The logic of the
Internet is based on collaboration between developers, and the
introduction of a different form of organisation would lead to the
end of this means of communication, Mr Castells warned. Minister
Gilberto Gil agreed and said that the movement for Internet freedom
"is not anti-, but pro-global citizenship, information, and the
exercise of sensitivity and humanity". "Hackers spread knowledge and
believe in sharing information," Mr Gil said. "I am a minister and I
am a musician, but above all I am a hacker at heart", he added.

Debate participants agreed that there is a need to give "flexibility"
to intellectual property. Current intellectual property regimes, they
said, do not protect authors and inventors anymore but serve the
interests of large corporations while impeding the sharing of
knowledge. In addition, intellectual property expert John Perry
Barlow said the poor nations would not be able to solve their
development problems unless they stop paying expensive software
licensing fees.

"Intellectual property cannot be a new form of colonialism," said Mr
Lessing. "We need a new ideology, the opposite of ownership", he
added. According to Mr Lessing, part of the solution can be provided
by the Creative Commons licence, which allows authors of an
intellectual work to waive their rights to whatever extent they want.
The rise of the Internet represents a "radical change in the way of
making culture", Mr Lessing said, and is an incentive to community
development. For him, communications companies who seek to protect
their intellectual property to the greatest extent and software
companies who do not make their programme codes publicly available,
have an unacceptable position.

Issues surrounding open source software and software patents are a
hot topic in the agenda of many governments, corporations and
advocacy groups in Europe and around the world. Opinions on these
issues are often polarised - "open" against "proprietary" models - as
illustrated by the current stalemate of the EU Directive on the
patentability of ?computer-implemented inventions? and the resulting
uncertainty over the future of software patenting in Europe.

Recent developments indicate that software development and the use of
software patents could however be evolving towards different business
models. Indeed, on 25 January 2005, Sun Microsystems announced that
it would be handing over more than 1,600 patents to software
developers as part of its decision to make the source code of its
Solaris 10 operating system publicly available. This announcement
came two weeks after IBM said it would provide open source software
developers with open access to "key innovations" covered by 500 of
its software patent, in a move intended to form the basis of an
industry-wide "patent commons".

© European Communities 2005
Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
The views expressed are not an official position of the European Commission.

Further information:

     * Press release by the World Social Forum
     * Article on open source software, by Manuel Castells
     * Articles by, Inter Press Servive News Agency, USA Today,
Libération, OpenDemocracy and Planeta Porto Alegre (article 1, article 2),

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