Sad, sad, sad [9:37 pm]
The European Council on Wednesday voted through controversial changes to the European Union’s Software Patents Directive that will pave the way for widespread patenting of software in Europe.
According to a spokesman at the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry, which backed the changes, the vote removes many of the changes introduced last year by the European Parliament that would have limited the degree to which software programs could be patented.
[...] The Directive will now be sent back to the European Parliament for another vote there in the autumn as the different bodies of the EU engage in a game of legislative ping-pong. While observers expect vociferous lobbying from open-source and developer groups, reversing the Council’s vote will be difficult, according to James Heald of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the rights of technology entrepreneurs and developers.
“The catch is that if the Parliament still doesn’t like software patents, it has to have a majority of all MEPs to put its amendments, which means that in practice they need a two-to-one or three-to-one majority in the chamber,” said Heald.
If the Parliament is successful in that vote, then it will go back to the Council for a second reading, and then if the Council still disagrees then it will go to a ’sudden death’ reconciliation committee, which will have six weeks to settle the matter.