Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Patents Your Rights Online

EU Says No To Software Patents 525

Moggie68 writes "European parliament has . struck down the proposal for a directive that would have brought US-style software patents into EU." Here's another story on the decision.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EU Says No To Software Patents

Comments Filter:
  • This is truely... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @08:57AM (#12993250)
    a day to celebrate a major victory for freedom and innovation everywhere.
  • by Underholdning ( 758194 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @08:57AM (#12993254) Homepage Journal
    Ok so the current score is 1-0 to the good guys, but I'm pretty sure the game isn't over yet...
  • by LynXmaN ( 4317 ) * on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @08:58AM (#12993258) Homepage
    Congratulations to the [] and all the European citizens!

    Today we're a bit closer to freedom :)
  • Well done!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seti ( 74097 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @08:58AM (#12993262) Journal
    Congratulations to the FFII [] for all their hard work and patience campaigning against the directive!!! These people deserve all the support they can get.

    For the time being I can rest assured that working as a programmer I do not have to watch my every statement.
  • by MoonFog ( 586818 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @08:58AM (#12993272)
    From the article on BBC []:
    Responding to the rejection the European Commission said it would not draw up or submit any more versions of the original proposal. .

    Sounds like excellent news, but I doubt they'll give it up just yet, but this is a major setback (another one) for them.
  • Re:Victory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by N3WBI3 ( 595976 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:00AM (#12993289) Homepage
    This is not just a victory for opensource. Companies will have more room to reverse engineer software. This will also benefit closed source companies! everyone wins.

    Personally my only problem with software patents is the length. I think that an 18-36 month patent is reasonable but anything over that is not.

  • by rvw ( 755107 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:00AM (#12993290)
    So it turns out the EU Parliament has power, and actually can stop the EU Commission. I wonder how this would have turned out if the EU constitution in France and Netherlands wasn't rejected. I think this was a good moment for EU Parliament to show their muscle.
  • Re:Victory! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zaxios ( 776027 ) <> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:01AM (#12993298) Journal
    Today was a great day in the battle for a free and open information infrastructure, and for a favorable business environment in Europe for enterprises that use or produce software.

    Not just that, but it was a great day for European democracy, with the EU's elected body asserting itself totally over the unelected, untransparent Council.
  • Re:Victory! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:02AM (#12993308)
    648 votes to 14.

    Just think about that for a moment.

    648 votes to 14. That's how utterly wrong this bill was. There can't be many bills which have taken such a beating in the history of the EU, can there?

    Now as European Citizens it is out duty to write to the 14 fuckwits who voted for the bill and ask them simply "Why?". Then make sure they loose at the next European Elections.
  • Re:Not quite (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MoonFog ( 586818 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:04AM (#12993331)
    May be true, from the BBC:
    "Patents will continue to be handled by national patent offices ... as before, which means different interpretations as to what is patentable, without any judiciary control by the European Court of Justice," said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, representing the EU head office at the vote.

    At least it shows that politicans do not just blindly follow. If this continues, it will be difficult for national politicans to accept something the EU has rejected (more than once, this was a re-write wasn't it?)
  • Mixed blessing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mjlner ( 609829 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:07AM (#12993355) Journal
    On the one hand, it is very good that US-style software patents have not been forced down our throats with this directive. On the other hand, individual member countries are still free to legalise software patents, if they want to. For the pro-patent lobby, this is a much better result than a possibly amended directive that would explicitly outlaw software patents in the EU. The anti-patent lobby still has much to do.

    One very good outcome of this is that the average European Joe Schmoe is now more aware of the issue and the MEPs are more aware of the sentiments within the industry. No more will the pro-patent lobby be able to sneak software patents in through the back door. That, in itself, is a huge victory.

    A huge thanks to everybody who helped defeat the directive, be it with a single short e-mail to an MEP or actively spending hundreds of hours on the issue.
    Thank you!

  • by Tonnerre ( 891997 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:07AM (#12993357) Homepage Journal
    2003, 2005: that's actually 2-0

  • by Szaman2 ( 716894 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:10AM (#12993382) Homepage
    We made history today. This day will be remebered as the day when Europe dodged the bullet. Few more years, and all technological progres will grind down to a full stop here in the US and we technologically clueful people will all have to go look for jobs elsewhere. Pereferably a place where we will not be sued for infringing on trivial patents...
  • by PintoPiman ( 648009 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:10AM (#12993388)
    Today we're a bit closer to freedom :)

    Not to rain on the parade or anything, but aren't we exactly as close as before? I mean it's still exciting that we aren't further from freedom than yesterday...


  • Re:Victory! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neillewis ( 137544 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:10AM (#12993392)
    Yes, I would urge caution in seeing this as a victory for the anti-patent side. It is clear that the pro-patent side was willing to see this bill killed off rather that have the FFII's amendments voted into law.

    The patent lobbyists will be back, if not in the EU then in every national parliament. Congratulations to the FFII, in stopping this and putting the spotlight on the software patent issue. It's a huge achievement.But this is only the first battle.

    It's worth a lot of money to Microsoft and front organisations like the BSA to shut down competition using patents, hopefully with the issue now more widely known they will find it increasingly difficult to spread lies and buy off politicians.
  • Re:Victory! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:11AM (#12993394) Journal
    This is almost a total victory for the opponents of software patents.

    It's good news, but I wouldn't count on the enemies of technology giving up. Software patents will be introduced in the EU parliament again and again, until they get passed. Don't underestimate the patience of bureacrats and corporations.


  • by Cyphertube ( 62291 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:12AM (#12993411) Homepage Journal

    Except that the underpinnings of all the abstractions the average programmer uses are mathematically based.

    I don't think we can patent the basics of logic either, so even when the syntax actually doesn't have any numbers, it's basic reasoning is still mathematical.

    And honestly, I can't think of an actual programming language that doesn't use mathematical operators of some kind. Even VBScripting uses it in some bastardised fashion.

    It sounds like the ostrich head-in-the-sand argument. I can't see it, hence it doesn't exist.

  • The game is never over. Eternal vigilence and all that.
  • by Penguin ( 4919 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:13AM (#12993420) Homepage
    This isn't a "victory over patents", it just means that the situation isn't resolved.

    EPO (the European Patent Office) still have given out several thousands patents for software (and they continue to do so). These are not void until they are tried individually in court.

    Så, basically there could be three results:

    1. The directive was accepted with the possibility of software patents (which would be preferred for pro-patent-people)

    2. The directive was accepted without the possibility of software patents (which would be preferred for con-patent-people)

    3. The directive was dropped

    The latter is the case. So there are no general guidelines. Of course this still means that bunch of patents wouldn't hold in court, but that road is much longer than a general guideline preventing the patents in the first place.
  • Re:Next: the US (Score:5, Insightful)

    by team99parody ( 880782 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:15AM (#12993434) Homepage
    After all, hasn't the US's position all along been that "harmonization"!

    In order to compete with Europe, I think "harmonization" with their patent policies is exactly what we should be fighting for now.

  • Re:Victory! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:16AM (#12993442)

    I believe the real crooks here are the Commission, not the Council, but your point is just as valid in that case.

  • NOT a dupe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CharonX ( 522492 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:17AM (#12993446) Journal
    Yesterday's article said that most MEP would probably vote NO - but the vote was only done today.
    Thus, there existed the chance that they might get a change of heart etc. and vote YES instead...
    We already had prematurely celebrated the Patent Directive dead once already - when Sweden etc. said it wanted to move it from a A-point to a B-point, but then was basically ignored by the Council during the meeting - and the Directive was passed to the EP for second reading.
    NOW we can say that the Directive, in its current form, is dead.
  • Europe rules... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hoborocks ( 775911 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:17AM (#12993456) Homepage moving to Europe sounds even better. I won't be prosecuted for "developing" one-click shopping.

    Thank god there's somewhere that understands what's going on.

    P.S. I'm a Computer Science major, who's intending to go on to law school...does anyone have any suggestions where to go? I'm looking for a good school with a strong department in intellectual property/patent law/internet law/etc...I'm also looking for proximity to large cities (especially NYC and DC)...
  • by file-exists-p ( 681756 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:22AM (#12993489)

    The EPO (European Patent Office) has granted patents on algorithms for years, despite the fact that they are illegal under the current European legislation []. And it seems that the fight will go on there (cf. this article []).

    However, considering today's vote, the patent offices can not anymore claim that their interpretation of the law have a political backup.

    Go Debian!
  • Re:Victory! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kisak ( 524062 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:24AM (#12993511) Homepage Journal
    It will takes years before the EU commission can get a new software patents law to the EU parliament. The EU bureaucracy is slow (since it has to negotiate between so many different countries). They will probably try, but for now, the EU is safe for at least two-three years before the fight has to be fought again.
  • Votes against (Score:3, Insightful)

    by noims ( 23711 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:28AM (#12993547) Homepage
    I haven't seen a list of MEPs who voted against striking it down, or those who abstained.

    If anyone has a list it would certainly be useful when the next elections roll around.

  • Re:Not quite (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MoonFog ( 586818 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:30AM (#12993571)
    European laws and regulations are clear at the moment: software patents are not allowed. That means in any country.

    Nope: "Patents will continue to be handled by national patent offices ... as before, which means different interpretations as to what is patentable, without any judiciary control by the European Court of Justice," said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, representing the EU head office at the vote.

    Source []
  • Re:Note (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kaarlov ( 259057 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:37AM (#12993630)
    Problem with amending a bad proposal to make it better is that you never know which amendments will pass and the outcome is very likely to be hard to interpret and illogical at best.

    Hopefully the next proposal which is going to happen sooner or later is better from the beginning. I hope that in next time, SME's and OSS-community are represented when the initial drafts for the directive are made.

    This time the rejection of the whole proposal was better than amending it into lawyers' wet dream.
  • Re:Not quite - bis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cortana ( 588495 ) < minus threevowels> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:43AM (#12993676) Homepage
    Everyone needs to be aware of these facts. Every news story about these events should make it clear that this is not a total victory for the anti-pure-software-patent crowd.

    Microsoft, Nokia and co will try again, in a few years time. Except that they won't do anything as overt as trying to pass a pan-European directive. They'll work quitely, behind the scenes, on the ministers of individual European governments. Pure-software-patents will be legalised, once country at a time.

    Once this process is complete, they may then go for another pan-European directive, that really would merely 'harmonise' the EU countries' patent laws. Only by then, it will be to late, since the damage will have already been done at the level of individual countries.

    Don't let it get that far. Keep your ears open and stay on the lookout for any pro-pure-software-patent legislation that may reach your parliament.

  • by listen ( 20464 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:48AM (#12993730)
    "This isn't 1940 where computers are simply solving math problems."

    This is possibly the most idiotic statement I have ever read. In what way is software not entirely a mathematical field? Have you the slightest inkling of what computer science is?

    Software, in all its forms, from the highest level Haskell to the tightest x86 machine code, from the elegance of Scheme to the pure sickness of Befunge, is represented as regular groups of symbols encoded in a numerical form. The abstract machines that give meaning to these symbols can also be encoded in any of these forms . The presence of hardware is incidental : everything that has been done or can be done with software is performable by a purely mental process. How anyone can believe this does not qualify as a field of pure mathematics is beyond me.

    In summary, you don't have a clue what you are talking about. I think a better statement might be :

    "This isn't 3000BC where mathematics is simply solving mathematics problems."
  • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cortana ( 588495 ) < minus threevowels> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:49AM (#12993738) Homepage
    WARNING: you may have been duped by Tony and his Cronies.
    "Software should not be patentable where there is no technological innovation, and technological innovations should not cease to be patentable merely because the innovation lies in software."
    The emphasised phrase is legally and semantically meaningless in the context of deciding whether a patent should pass review. It is nothing more than a lawyerly weasel-phrase used to slip pure software patents under the radar.

    The 2001 consultation was a complete sham, little more than a pro-pure-software-patent PR exercise. This has been widely discussed on anti-software-patent forums.

    See 89125 [], including the links at the bottom, for further information and analysis.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:50AM (#12993741) Journal
    The democratic process worked.

    The only sad thing is the feeling of surprise this generated...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:55AM (#12993802)
    On the bright side, the FFII & Open Source lobyist have proven themselves strong. We can get in on the first floor now for any proposed new amendment, and help to make one that helps us in the EU. There is no reason why a new proposol could not be drafted, with input from the FFII & other Open Source groups, that achieves the same things that the amendments to this bill set out to do.
  • by Anders Andersson ( 863 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:56AM (#12993811) Homepage
    648 votes to 14. That's how utterly wrong this bill was.

    648 MEPs all voted to reject the directive, but for how many different reasons? This number probably includes both supporters of software patents who feared an amended directive (for no good reason, I should add) and those who were angry at the Council for scrapping all the amendments already made by the Parliament back in 2003. I don't think it means 648 MEPs are decidedly opposed to software patents.

    Now as European Citizens it is out duty to write to the 14 fuckwits who voted for the bill and ask them simply "Why?". Then make sure they loose at the next European Elections.

    I don't know who those 14 were, but I'd like to know. However, I wouldn't rule out they may have included one or two brave individuals who wanted to give the 21 Rocard-Buzek-Duff amendments a chance (to reject software patents, rather than reject the directive). If your purpose with asking "why" is to identify potential allies, then fine, but why not ask all the other MEPs the same question?

    If I understand correctly, the plan was to go through all the 178 (?) amendment proposals and vote on each one, after which a final vote would be held on whether the directive was now in an acceptable state or should be rejected anyway. The advice from FFII was to first vote for the 21 Rocard-Buzek-Duff amendments, but later vote to reject the directive if those amendments didn't achieve the necessary majority.

    Now the proposal to reject the directive was made already before the amendments, meaning that we will never know how our elected representatives would have voted on the issues of substance, and I fear that may have been yet another reason for some MEPs to vote "no" early - they preferred not to show their cards if they didn't have to. In that light, kicking 14 MEPs in the back for asking to see the result of 178 amendment votes seems like a bad idea. They are too small a group to even be concerned about, and you will only encourage future MEPs to take the safe option and vote in unison like a flock of sheep, regardless of the issue.

  • Here is the slightly worrying meat of the matter (from TFA):

    Some 178 amendments to the bill were tabled by lawmakers before the vote. In the end parliament decided to vote down the law, fearing the amendments would dilute it and make it an inadequate compromise. "It was a mess. Better no directive than a bad directive," said Tony Robinson, spokesman for the Socialists. EICTA, a group representing 10,000 companies including giants such as Nokia and Alcatel SA which had been lobbying for the bill, said the decision to scrap it was wise, given the large number of amendments that threatened to severely narrow the scope of the legislation.

    So it seems that the bill was not voted down because the anti-SWPAT people were able to persuade the voters of the rightness of their cause, but that it was spammed with amendments until it collapsed under its own weight.

    Still a good thing, of course, but it would have been nicer to have this stupid idea explicitly faced down.

  • by listen ( 20464 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:07AM (#12993900)
    You clearly have no idea what mathematics is.

    Do you think that all of maths is simple arithmetic? I hope you realise that apply is a mathematical operator : this is what you would refer to as "calling a method". Defining a function is an equation. Do I really have to spell it out for you? Everything in your programs is mathematical. Not necessarily arithmetical. Please learn the difference.

    Practically all programming language semantic research is couched in the terms of category or set theory. That you don't know this doesn't mean it isn't so. Look it up if you have more than a passing interest in your career.

    When a patent claims something like the "method of drag and drop", it is claiming that all possible symbolic forms that implement this method are infringing. These forms, like every program you have ever written, are mathematical. The big issue is that the form is not being claimed as in a copyrighted work or a physical patent: it is the very concept of solving the problem that is being claimed. Once you have spotted a problem, you immediately control all possible solutions.
  • Re:Next: the US (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teun ( 17872 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:07AM (#12993907) Homepage
    Yep you hit the nail on it's head; Harmonizing means 'going our (the USA) way' while Harmonising means 'going our (the EU) way'.

    And the guy with the biggest Nuclear bombs still feels he has God on his side.

    A major battle is over but the war is continuing.

  • They won't give up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:10AM (#12993925) Homepage
    I just can't imagine them giving up so soon. As has been stated even before this vote, they will go after more local governments next. Following that, what is to stop them from trying it again later? (Is there some rule that says they can't?)

    As for the US needing patent reform? Yeah, it's pretty clear to "us" from our perspective, but the average joe doesn't care one way or the other but the moment they hear "they are trying to stop us from patenting things" the public will conjure up images of Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison tinkering in their home laboratories and think how un-American it would be to prevent people from patenting stuff. It has to be shown how it hurts them before the public will care about this and telling them "hey, you could have had much cooler and cheaper stuff..." it's a particularly effective argument since it's essentially viewed as speculation rather than fact.

    It's easier to see in Europe what the potential harm to their market would be -- the U.S.'s head start in patent portfolios would make the sting pretty obvious.

    So then I wonder, what angle or spin would be most effective against the general public to help them understand the need for patent reform in the U.S.?
  • But who voted YES? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pioni ( 694427 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:13AM (#12993957)
    I'd like to know the names of those few who voted YES.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:23AM (#12994052)
    The more reinforcement from lots of people that software patents are a bad thing, the better. And apart from their salaries and pensions etc, I'm sure they feel generally unloved.

  • Re:Next: the US (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:25AM (#12994067) Homepage Journal
    You are asking him to prove something different than what he claimed.... Nice try, but not a very honest way to debate.

    Democracy is not about votes, but about influence. It doesn't matter if everyone can vote if the vote doesn't mean anything, or if how people vote is largely influenced by the funding available to the various candidates, or if the election system is biased towards certain candidates.

    The election system is the first flaw - by penalising votes for outsiders it creates an entrenched situation where only very rich people (i.e. Ross Perot) or the two major parties have a fighting chance of winning. That in itself means that even if the majority of Americans in advance of the next election wanted a major change, and a candidate matched what they wanted, that candidate would be unlikely to stand a chance because most voters would see it as too risky.

    The funding available has a similar level of importance - remember the level of support Perot was able to get? It was a direct result of having access to funding that enabled him to reach a large audience. Try picking a random candidate from the last two elections and asking people on the street if they know who he/she was, and most of them won't know. That means that effectively, the office of President is closed to anyone not palatable to a majority in one of the major parties, or wealthy enough for a major PR blitz.

    It's tragic that so many people believe blindly in a system just because they are a allowed a vote. People were allowed to vote under Saddam Hussein as well, and we all know - regardless of whether or not we support the war - that those votes were worthless. No other comparisons intended - just an example of how being allowed to vote says nothing about whether or not a country is democratic.

    That said, at the moment I live in the UK, which has an election system about as shitty as the US one (i.e. Labour holds an absolute majority in parliament despite not getting anywhere near the majority of votes, thanks to one man circuits), as does France and a number of other European countries, most of the above apply in varying degress to many other countries as well.

  • by listen ( 20464 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:30AM (#12994111)
    Please would you post some of your mythical non-maths based code? I have a feeling you are beyond help.

    A pure mental process that is based on consistent symbolic manipulation is extremely difficult to paint as anything but maths. What do you think it is ? Interpretive dance? Woodcraft?

    I would love to know what you believe mathematics is. I'm guessing that you think it is arithmetic.

    And as to your MS : the standards for getting a degree in this field are shockingly bad. I know people with even less clue than you who have degrees in CS. I have one too, but I don't think that it alone proves anything. Your statements show that you are very confused.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by albalbo ( 33890 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:30AM (#12994114) Homepage
    Really? I would have thought that some people berating other people's voting intentions was what was wrong with democracy.

    That's clearly not the case with you, though. You know exactly how other people should vote, and if they don't vote that way, they're wrong.

  • by cortana ( 588495 ) < minus threevowels> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:35AM (#12994169) Homepage
    That was what would have happened today, in an ideal world.

    Bad outcome: CIID passed as tabled by the Commission and their backers, Microsoft, Nokia, etc.

    Good outcome: CIID amended to prohibit software patents (~367 majority required)

    Neutral/okayish outcome: CIID defeated at second reading; patent situation remains as is (software patents prohibited by European Patent Convention, but individual countries allow them anyway)

    Today, the good guys couldn't be sure of the 367 votes necessary to pass their ammendments. Therefore they chose the safe option, and voted to reject the CIID entirely.

    Microsoft, Nokia et al will on no account allow a directive to be passed that prohibits pure software patents, so they had their MEPs likewise vote to reject the CIID, rather than risk having the ammendments of M. Rocard and co. be implemented.
  • by listen ( 20464 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:46AM (#12994313)
    You are a real nutcase.

    If I have the rules to the machine, abstract or physical, and I have the code, then I can laboriously perform the instructions. Are you seriously denying that this is the case? Can you imagine doing one instruction?

    push 20h

    Can you imagine doing the next one?

    call 401010

    Oh look, by induction, you can imagine performing the whole program. Big fucking surprise.

    I never said it would be easy or fun, or that it would finish in a single lifetime. But clearly it can be performed as a mental process.

    On to planes. Planes, and all other mechanical devices, work because they obey physical "laws". These laws are mathematical generalisations that we have tested against the world for a long time and failed to disprove. The maths does not generate the laws, it is merely a statement about them. That we can use the maths to design other physical items does not mean that these items are suddenly pure maths. They simply obey the same "constant conjunctions" that we have observed for everything else in the physical world. Read some Hume, ingrate.

    Your logical fallacies are unbeatable. Keep it up.
  • by rsynnott ( 886713 ) <> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:54AM (#12994410) Homepage
    Oh, frighteningly stupid people get degrees all the time... I know someone with a II.1 in CS from the country's top university who struggles with the idea of pointers.
  • by listen ( 20464 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @10:59AM (#12994455)
    "to get away from the 1s and 0s that are actually doing the calculations."

    So you really do beleive that mathematics is just arithmetic. I think this is where the disconnect is: mathematics is by its very nature the process of abstraction that you use to get away from any other representation you already have. It is not just adding and dividing, or other simple operators you learned when you were two.

    Look up some fields of more abstract maths: category theory, topography, etc. Are you going to advocate promoting a small field of discrete maths to being "not maths" merely because we can make machines to perform that maths easily? Or that some people who use the machines don't understand them? If so, then arithmetic is not maths, because a lot of people use calculators, and don't know how to divide numbers without one.
  • by listen ( 20464 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @11:06AM (#12994530)
    Yep, it is amazing how many people in the places I usually work ( big name investment banks) just randomly play around with & and * until they get something to compile. Then they assume it is all ok ;-).

    I think it is to do with the way things are taught : I strongly believe CS needs to be taught both top down and bottom up at the same time. All too often an approach known as "Java is all the world, and all the world is Java" is used in preference to showing people everything from AND gates to dependent type systems. Multiple passes through all these layers are needed too. But then unis would need to chuck out 75% of people in the first year...

  • Re:Not quite - bis (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @11:09AM (#12994551)
    It will be sooner... probably early next year.
    Microsoft desperatly need to patent DRM before they ship Longhorn.
    A petented DRM with support in hardware will be the death of everything else...
  • Re:Next: the US (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @11:12AM (#12994575) Homepage Journal
    In the very rare occasions in history where a truly benevolent dictator has come to power, peace and prosperity have flourished and the people have been quite happy. Of course, that may have only happened once or twice in the history of the planet.

    The problem is that, as Douglas Adams put it (paraphrased), the people who would want to take positions of power are precisely the ones who should never be allowed to wield it. People who crave power will inherently become corrupt. The people who should be running the country are the ones who would rather do anything BUT run the country. Sure, their first few decisions will be bad because they'll hold a grudge towards the system, but after they get to a certain point, they'll start to tolerate it and will feel duty-bound to do the best job they can for the good of the people. Then, after a period, they will begin to enjoy it. At this point, they should be removed as quickly as possible, as no good can come of this. :-D

  • by ContractualObligatio ( 850987 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:20PM (#12994895)

    First off, I'm a big fan of Europe. I think getting the continent on the same basic human rights, and in a good trade zone, are all good things. I even like the euro (speaking as a Brit, we've yet to decide as a country). But I can't stand the behind-closed-doors, elitist attitude of the Commission and the European Central Bank.

    "Patents will continue to be handled by national patent offices ... as before, which means different interpretations as to what is patentable, without any judiciary control by the European Court of Justice," said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, representing the EU head office at the vote.

    At least the way I read it, the guy is saying that it was a bad decision, and if only those poor ignorant elected representatives had made the right choice and rubber stamped what the bureaucrats asked them to, everything could be a lot better under superior, central control with limited accountability. Just like the recent votes on the constitution, the idea that just maybe the "elite" are fucking up big time and need to get back in touch with what their citizens want simply doesn't seem to occur to them.

    Pisses me off big time, I tell you. I want a Europe for all the people, not a bunch of wannabes who often seem to view the European project as a more acceptable alternative to war as a method to conquer, rather than a democratic opportunity.

    Sorry, I'm ranting here. Congrats to all those that made our views heard. Yes, the pro-patent lobby also voted against the bill out of fear of the amendments, but those amendments may never have been there in the first place without the anti-software patent people doing their thing.

  • Re:The EU Rocks! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Asic Eng ( 193332 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @01:47PM (#12995821)
    It may hurt, but it is the truth.

    No it isn't. Yes there is some truth there, but quite a few exaggerations and obmissions, too.

    I doubt that the US "... murdered more humans in a 50 year period than anyone else before ..." - WW2 cost roughly 50 million lives. And while the US-Americans could certainly do with taking some responsibility for the actions of their government and look honestly at the crimes which were commited and mistakes which were made, other countries should do the very same.

    The US might be the biggest polluter, but the EU and Canada are not that far behind. The US is not the only country selling military technology to corrupt dictatorships and propping up criminal regimes. The US is not the only country who stands by when genocide occurs in Dafur or Rwanda. It's pathetic that the US refuses to do anything about global warming, but the little the rest of us does about it is pathetic, too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @02:16PM (#12996075)
    Long live innovation through competition - not litigation.

    I produce roughly 20000-25000 lines of code every 4-5 months, and I hate the thought that I can be accused of stealing someone elses idea every time I write 10-20 lines code - in fact it insults me. Lets hope europe will some day move to illigalize software patent on a national level. I want fredom to develop thank you! Not this thing the pro-patent politicians call "protection". It only protects big companies with big patentportfolios from having to compete by way of building the best products.
  • Re:RTFD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HiThere ( 15173 ) * <> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @04:08PM (#12997158)
    Harmonization is not inherently good. It's also not inherently bad.

    When you use harmonization as your reason to argue for a point, you cause me to suspect the quality of the point for which you are arguing.

    For some purposes, it's nice to have uniform rules, but uniform bad rules are worse than a patchwork of rules. With a patchwork you can find the place that you consider optimum, and operate from there.

    OTOH, centralized control is an inherrent evil. Not a pure evil, as some good can come out of it, but it is nearly inevitable that, over time, more evil than good will result. This is because a centralized point of control is a place available for someone who values power over most other things to sieze control. It will happen. It will almost always happen within three changes of administration (sometimes more quickly, occasionally more slowly). At that point the rules will be changed to increase the amount of control adhereing to the central point beyond the optimal point, and more closely towards total. Succeeding administrations will only increase this tendency, whether they themselves are intentionally malign or not. (When did a government EVER vote to decrease it's power except in the face of overwhelming threat, personally, to the leaders of the government? [And not usually even then.]) For that matter, when did the general manager of a company disperse his authority? (Hint: This has happened. More than once, and often with favorable results. But it's quite rare.)

    Note: I'm talking about tendencies here, and statistical trends. But they are VERY strong tendencies, and very solid trends. Still, fluctuations DO happen.

  • by Peter Eckersley ( 66542 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:07PM (#12999376) Homepage
    Doesn't that provide a slam-dunk defense for anyone accused of infringing a software patent? It seems that if you were sued for infringement you could just point out to the court that the patent was erroneously issued. After a couple such cases, the precedent would be firmly established and future defendants would hardly have to do more than show up.

    No [] :)

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford