[R] Threat to open source software users ...

John Logsdon j.logsdon at lancaster.ac.uk
Fri Jun 18 18:24:22 CEST 1999

Dear R users etc

As a substantial contribution to the OSS movement, R authors, developers
and users will be keenly aware of the benefits R brings to the statistical
community - and indeed the original S language itself.

It is therefore very worrying to see the EU is thinking of /being
pressurised into following the anti-competitive US patents type law.  This
would affect R (particularly as a number of R contributors are EU-based). 
It could also affect all other OSS unless software algorithms were
specifically excluded. 

It is clearly not enough to exclude algorithms already published, in
theses or books etc.  It is entirely possible for many people to come up
with essentially the same algorithm but the one with the sharpest lawyers
could demand a licence fee from all the others.  What is the difference
between this and mathematical theorems?  No one patents theorems - they
are expected to acknowledge the authors by citation to avoid charges of
plagiariasm.  But what are many software algorithms if not implementations
of mathematical theorems?

This will stop software development in the EU - people in the US are
already saying it has affected development and concentrated the software
in the hands of a few already powerful companies with the aforesaid sharp

There is a meeting this next week in Paris. 

Please read and, assuming you agree, sign the petition
http://swpat.ffii.org/miert.  There are various language versions

It looks serious.


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