An open letter to members of the Open Forum, Europe

Red Hat has communicated to the Open Forum, Europe, that we are not happy with the position they have taken on software patents. The Open Forum, Europe, has responded by saying that they are not happy either, but that they believe that their advocacy of open source will be compromised if they take a position of principle rather than convenience.

As a member of Open Forum, Europe, Red Hat would like to exhort other members to seriously consider how Open Forum, Europe really can best represent your interests of promoting free and open source software in Europe. If you believe in passive acceptance of a broken US patent system and in continued silence while the EU debates the future of its technology policies, then you have paid the Open Forum to deliver nothing but another configuration of corporate logos feigning association with open source. In that case, it is we who have been deceived. If you believe, on the other hand, that a stand should be taken, because only by taking a stand can one make a change, then we must retake the agenda and have the Open Forum, Europe, redirect its efforts.

As you may have read, the open source community has been successful in reclaiming its freedom from recent coup-de-patent attempts. Let us not ignore this recent victory, but continue to promote a better technology agenda for Europe and the world. If software patents are going to be accepted by Europe, then our position as a true Open Source company is that they should not be enforcible when used in GPL or other open source software. If that sounds too radical, then our position would be that Europe should not have software patents at all.