Friday, October 21, 2005

FOSS luminaries call to worldwide vote


Richard Stallman, Tim O'Reilly, Alan Cox, Rasmus Lerdorf and Monty Widenius endorse Florian Mueller's candidacy "because he runs on a NoSoftwarePatents ticket, and that is the message we want to reinforce"

Brussels (20 October 2005) -- A group of Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) celebrities has weighed in on the election of the "European of the Year 2005" by calling on "software developers and users around the globe" to vote for Florian Mueller, the founder of the campaign, in a public online poll. The illustrious consortium consists of--in alphabetical order of last name--Alan Cox, Red Hat Fellow and Linux kernel maintainer; Rasmus Lerdorf, creator of the PHP programming language; Tim O'Reilly, book publisher and conference organizer; Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation (who in 1984 began the work
that produced today's popular GNU/Linux operating system); and Monty Widenius, creator of the MySQL database.

In a NoSoftwarePatents press release, the community leaders today expressed their support for the voting recommendations that has published in more than a dozen languages:

Participants in the poll are required to make a choice in each of ten categories, and the voting list provided by explains the role that various candidates played in the software patent debate so that voters can reward the opponents of software patents and penalize pro-patent politicians.

On 22 September, Florian Mueller was nominated for the most prestigious award in EU politics, the "EV50 Europeans of the Year". The jury thereby recognized his political efforts against a legislative proposal that in his opinion would have legalized software patents in Europe. The European Parliament rejected the bill on 6 July by a landslide of 648-32 votes. Mueller, who stressed that he owes this nomination "to our entire community and especially to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)", is credited with founding a multilingual campaign website,
speaking out in the media and at public events, and lobbying MEPs (Members of
the European Parliament) as well as governments and parliaments in select EU
member states.

The European Voice, a major EU-focused weekly, is now conducting an Internet
poll in which Mueller runs against such famous contenders as U2 frontman Bono, Bob Geldof, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, and political leaders including British prime minister Tony Blair, the outgoing German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and Schroeder's successor designate Angela Merkel. The poll is open to the worldwide public until 11 November.

Mueller's endorsers pointed out that the FOSS community has played a particularly active role in the fight against software patents, but that software patents "threaten us all because they don't discriminate based on programming language, operating system, or licensing model". The group is "disconcerted by early reports" that the EU is now looking at alternative ways of giving software patents a stronger legal basis in Europe, such as an EU community patent regulation.

The press release underscored the fact that "this is a campaign for a cause, not for a person": People are asked to vote for Mueller "because he runs on a NoSoftwarePatents ticket, and that is the message we want to reinforce". The label is right next to Mueller's name on the ballot (

The endorsement furthermore stated: "Some other nominees also stand for valid concerns and noble causes. However, those issues and individuals have already received a lot of coverage in the mass media, while the implications of software patents to the whole world, including developing countries, still require much more public awareness. In the sense that software patents monopolize mental steps, they are also a human rights issue."

Mueller is confident that he can win the title of the "European of the Year" against his famous competitors in the light of the "indisputable e-campaigning power of the anti-software patent movement". In addition to a campaign statement and voting recommendations, the website provides an email form that allows supporters to spread the information (, and banners ( The two main slogans of the electoral campaign are "Vote against software patents" and "Vote for your right to program".

Should he win the popular vote, Mueller said that "everyone is a winner". He promised "to donate the Microsoft-sponsored prize money to the FFII", without which he says he "probably wouldn't have become involved, let alone succeeded, in this political battle".

The EV50 winners will be announced on 29 November. A gala evening at the Palais d'Egmont in Brussels will be hosted by former European Parliament President Pat Cox, who was hired by US corporations to lobby for software patents in the build-up to the 6 July vote. The EV50 awards are supported by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. Sponsors include PR and lobbying firm Burson-Marsteller, software maker Microsoft Corporation (a major owner and backer of software patents), and pharmaceutical giant Novartis. The European Voice is a publication of the Economist group.

NOTE: Florian Mueller founded the campaign in 2004 with the support of three corporate sponsors (1&1, Red Hat, MySQL AB), and managed it until March of 2005. He then gave his website to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), the leading European pressure group that opposes the patentability of computer programs.

Florian Mueller