Calgary - May 18th, 2005 : The Danger of Software Patents

The Calgary UNIX Users Group is hosting the following important event:

Richard Stallman from the Free Software Foundation and of the GNU Project, author of the GPL, the man who made GNU/Linux possible, will be giving a talk in Calgary.

Richard Stallman will explain how software patents obstruct software development. Software patents are patents that cover software ideas. They restrict the development of software, so that every design decision brings a risk of getting sued. Patents in other fields restrict factories, but software patents restrict every computer user. Economic research shows that they even retard progress.

People in Calgary have organized to have the Petition for Users' Rights available to be signed, and Richard Stallman will talk not only to the petition but our work on Software Patents. Audio and video will be recorded and made available after the talk.

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Letter sent to Calgary MPs

I just sent the following letter to the 8 Calgary MPs, with a copy of our petition and the poster for the May 18'th event. This was sent in snail-mail to the house of commons address which does not require postage. Snail-mail letters have a greater effect on MPs than e-mail.

Dear Diane Ablonczy, member for Calgary--Nose Hill

I am sending you this letter as a member of parliament in the city of Calgary. As host for the Digital Copyright Canada form, and part of our petition coordination group, I would like to draw your attention to the following:

Included is a poster for an event being held by the Calgary Unix Users Group on May 18'th. The topic is software patents, a highly controversial area of policy that most software practitioners disagree with, and one that parliament should be more informed on.

I included a copy of our Petition for Users' Rights in Copyright. As software creators we are very aware of the implications of the regulation on technology being proposed by the government, and are making quite reasonable demands of the government:

THEREFORE, your petitioners call upon Parliament to ensure generally that users are recognised as interested parties and are meaningfully consulted about proposed changes to the Copyright Act and to ensure in particular that any changes at least preserve all existing users' rights, including the right to use copyrighted materials under Fair Dealing and the right to make private copies of audio recordings. We further call upon Parliament not to extend the term of copyright; and to recognise the right of citizens to personally control their own communication devices.

Emphasis was added to the last sentence, as it is the issue that is most critical to software creators. Petitions will be available at the May 18'th event, increasing the number of signatures we have received from Calgary. We currently have over 1400 signatures from across Canada, and are looking for a Conservative MP that will be willing to table signatures.

On May 3'rd I sent a letter to some key Conservative members of parliament requesting clarifications on the Conservative Party Policy Declaration as it relates to these areas of technology law. Given we may be having an election soon, I believe it is very important to make these clarifications available so that voters will have them available to help in our decision about who to support.

Clarification of Conservative Party Policy Declaration

Thank you.

Russell McOrmond

305 Southcrest Private,

Ottawa, ON

K1V 2B7

Phone: (613) 733-5836