When millions of people beat millions of dollars

Every time I hear someone saying that something can’t be done, it’s too hard, there are interests and forces against you that are too big, I remember this David vs. Goliath photo and the months, years of fight that lead to a big victory. And the lessons I learned on how to talk to high-level politicians and super-lawyers,  how to influence people and turn enemies into allies.

For years, the free software movement rallied European citizens and small and medium businesses to reject a very bad directive on patentability of ‘computer implemented inventions’ (in other words, software) that would have damaged society in the long run. We managed to coordinate a strategy between different organizations, like FFII and FSFE. The movement succeeded in building a vast coalition of supporters against the directive, across the political spectrum. We isolated European giants SAP and Nokia, left alone to support a directive that appeared to be written by US-based multinationals.

This picture taken the day of the vote in 2005 shows  the different size of the budget: the big guns had a full boat floating in the canal next to the European Parliament in Strasbourg and a huge banner. Our movement had canoes and small flags.

They had millions, we were millions. And we won.

Software Patents Kill Innovation