[xslt] About software patents in Europe and consequences

  I updated the front page of xmlsoft.org to point to the current state.
In a nutshell, if there isn't strong opposition from the elected european
representatives, the directive toward legalizing Software Patents in Europe
will pass. 
  I live in europe as well as some others libxml2 and libxslt contributors.
This mean I/we could suddenly suffer from legal attack from
companies who deposed patents about XML software processing, i.e. the
software I provided under a very liberal licence for all to share may turn
into a risk for my work, and the assets I got though the result of my work.
This is of course something I don't take lightly at all.

  I noticed that among the companies who lobbied to get Software Patents
legalized in Europe, among others IBM, Apple, Cisco, Alcatel, Dell,
Sun Microsystems, Bull, Intel, HP, Adobe, Fujitsu, SAP, Siemens, Sony
and Motorola [1], a lot of them are using libxml2 and libxslt. Seems as
a thank you for I providing code, time and energy, all I get is being 
threaten for potential legal attacks.

   I cannot accept this state of affairs.

  If the Software Patent directive to legalize them in Europe passes
on Wednesday (or later) I may have to change things. One of them could
be to switch the Licence for the software:

   - to LGPL which has a Patent protection clause
   - to add patent attack protection to the Licence like sections
     12 and 13 for the GPL, basically dropping all right to any
     distribution and use in case of any legal attack
   - or something else I will certainly have to ask a lawyer for advices

  This annoys me a lot, but I may need to defend myself. There are certainly
other options like for example getting a formal statement from one of
those companies that they would pay for the defense in case of legal
attacks due to patents infrigements in Europe. If you work for one of
those company and use libxml2 or libxslt you should raise this point
to your hierarchy, because the status-quo is in danger, all I (we) have
left on our side is our CopyRight rights on this software and if that's
the only thing I can use to protect myself, I will use it, but to be
able to use it I would have to change the License for future versions.

  Don't try to persuade me that Software Patents are not intrinsically bad,
I base my opinion on the current text being pushed without Buzek-Rocard-Duff
amendments and which just mirrors the sorry state of Software Patents in 
the USA, and is indefendable in practice. It's not an ideologistic view,
it is a pragmatic one I can't risk to get patent infringement legal bills
that there is no way I could afford to pay, and there is no way I can do
or pay for potential patent infringement searches about all the XML
processing aspects embbedded in libxml2 and libxslt.

   I am very concerned about this, if you are in Europe, please call your
MEP to object this directive without the amendments suggested [2]. If you
work for one of the companies who paid for this being passed, you can
contact your hierarchy now because there is something seriously broken
I will have to react to, and in general if you have advices on how to
handle this mess please provide them, publicly on the list or privately
if you wish so.

  thanks for your attention,


[1] list extracted from http://www.eicta.org/ who organized a lot of
    the lobbying for legalizing Software Patents in Europe

[2] see http://wiki.noepatents.eu.org/index.php/MEPinfo don't send mail,
    call them, mine is Rocard who worked on amendments to try to correct
    the situation ...

Daniel Veillard      | Red Hat Desktop team http://redhat.com/
veillard redhat com  | libxml GNOME XML XSLT toolkit  http://xmlsoft.org/
http://veillard.com/ | Rpmfind RPM search engine http://rpmfind.net/

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