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FREE SOFTWARE USERS GROUP (FSUG), BANGALORE
23rd August 2008
For Immediate Release
A Candle-light Vigil to Protest Patenting Software
Concerned citizens from all walks of life gathered today in front of the Town Hall for a candle-light vigil to send a message saying no to software patents. This vigil was held in anticipation of the Bangalore Consultation on Draft Patent Manual being prepared by the India Patent Office on the 27th of this month. The protesters main concern is the use of this manual to allow patenting of software through the back door. As of now, software can only be copyrighted and not patented. The protesters believe that Patenting of software would be detrimental to the growth of the software industry in general.
According to Praveen,, a Free Software Consultant and one of the organizers of this protest; “Patenting software would be as absurd as patenting a mathematical equation or an algorithm”. Attempts were made to bring software under the patent regime in 2004 through an ordinance, which was rejected outright by the Indian Parliament. This manual is an effort to legitimise what has been rejected by the Parliament.
This vigil is also a call to rally for software innovations and block potentially harmful patent regime that would act as an obstacle to software development. Renuka Prasad,, a Professor at RV College of Engineering feels that pushing a patent regime in software would tantamount to criminalizing genuine and innocent software programmers.
According to Richard Stallman, “Software patents are the software project equivalent of land mines: each design decision carries a risk of stepping on a patent, which can destroy your project”
In this context, patenting software is violative of the freedom of speech and expression, guaranteed under Art 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India particularly in the context of software programmers and developers.
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