Don’t allow software patents to threaten technology enhanced learning in Europe!
UPDATE: Aug 4, 2006
As the discussion on software patents in e-learning is getting more attention now, we remind you that you can still sign our petition - the campaign opposing software patents in e-learning in on-going! So, ignore the deadline in the text and keep passing the message on to your friends, colleagues and the decision makers in your educational instituions.
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petition aims to alert European authorities and policy-makers to
the dangers of software patents, and particularly to the negative
impact they will have on education. The use of Information and
Communication Technologies (ICT) to support and enhance teaching and
learning, including e-learning, is now recognised as a key element in
providing education which meets the needs and abilities of students,
and prepares Europe to participate creatively, technologically and
economically on a global level.
This petition is directed to the European Commission, the European
Parliament, the European Council and all National policy makers –
people in a position to address the threat of software patents and
ensure that we offer the best possible education to our citizens.
If you are a concerned teacher, learner, parent, researcher,
decision-maker, e-learning practitioner or developer, please, sign this
petition on-line and make sure others know about it. We are aiming to
raise awareness and gather as many signatures as possible by Thursday
30th March 2006.
am deeply concerned by the
Commission plans on industrial property. The development of the Community
Patent and European Patent Litigation Agreement, in combination
with the London protocol, could lead to the EU-wide introduction of
software patents. I believe that this could jeopardise developments in
the field of technology enhanced learning by inhibiting innovation
among European e-learning developers and practitioners.
believe that the establishment
of a software patents system would
have significant negative impacts on e-learning innovation and on the
quality of education we are able to offer our citizens, including:
- Restrictions on the rights of individuals to access
information and knowledge, as well as portability of learning-related
data for life-long learning – objectives stated in the Lisbon
Strategy as crucial to the successful development of the European
- A likely rise in the cost of applications to
support learning and underlying communication structures, operating
systems and other software, together with a reduction in the choice of
available software, (*)
- A negative effect on “in-house” and open source
development of educational applications. Many European educational
authorities (Ministries of Education, universities, regional
educational authorities, small and medium size enterprises) develop
educational platforms and applications for educational use. Money spent
on software patent and defending against litigation would be better
spent on development, education and training. (*)
- The rollout of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)
for educational purposes would be jeopardised by the threat of software
patents. They could have a negative effect on some open source
development, as it could become impossible for some FOSS to exist.
Furthermore, users may become afraid to change to using FOSS because of
fears regarding possible costs or litigations due to software patents. (*)
are two examples of pending
European Patent Office patents on
e-Learning solutions that would clearly impact on current and future
learned material in schools
Use a computer for testing pupils. The main claim covers the basic
procedure, the others just specify useful things to be done. The
“technical contributions” consists in the teaching that a computer can
be used to do these things more efficiently. There are ongoing
activities in schools and universities all around Europe that
potentially could violate such patent and may have to be cancelled. As
an example most open source LMS have this kind of functionality.
learning by comparing one’s pronunciation to that of a teacher
This covers all digital language learning systems that allow a user to
compare his pronunciation of a selected piece of text to the right
pronunciation. This patent is a good example of how concepts that is
considered “common knowledge” suddenly becomes patented and restricted
for use in the digital world. As a byproduct, the claim also seems to
include the learning function of voice recognition systems like
signing this petition I urge
decision makers at all levels in Europe, especially in the European
Commission, to reconsider their current plans and to make sure patents
are not abused to prohibit or restrict the development and
dissemination of technology enhanced learning in Europe.
Sign it here now!
Software Patents – a potential hindrance of
ICT in education. (Dec 2004) Vuorikari, R. & Sarnow, K.