Monday, May 4th, 2009 — End Software Patents today launched en.swpat.org, a wiki to document the case against software patents. Over 100 articles have already been started to give an idea of the scope and structure of the wiki.
ESP’s executive director Ciaran O’Riordan explains: “So far, we have articles about the case law, legislation, and patent office behavior in various countries. We have articles about economic studies, about related books, about the various ways to fight software patents, about each of the arguments against software patents, and most importantly, the evidence for each argument. There are so many topics, I’ve only had time to scratch the surface of each, but visitors should get an idea of how all this information is being categorized and organized. We’ve also built up a very long list of sources of information that have yet to be processed. The wiki can be edited by anyone, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the community and other projects make of it. If other campaigns, large and small, would like to use en.swpat.org as a workspace, that would be welcome. It makes sense for projects with common goals to be interconnected.”
“Most of the information currently on en.swpat.org was gathered casually. Each time I see something interesting in a document, I make a note of it in the wiki.” O’Riordan continued, “If more people start contributing in this piecemeal manner, we can create something really useful with very little effort. Good wikis are made sentence by sentence. There’s no need for anyone to try to write a full article.”
“There were hesitations about compiling articles about individual companies and organizations. swpat.org should become a reference, not a platform for announcements or for smear campaigns, but there is useful info that can be gathered about companies, so I decided to allow it and we’ll keep a close eye on how those articles get used.”
“By placing all the information side-by-side, we can spot inconsistencies and fill the gaps. I recently found information about software patent case law in France. Everyone I previously talked to said that the only European software patent case law was in Germany and England. On en.swpat.org, there’s a page for collecting case law, so now everyone can see that there are three European countries with case law. And maybe there are others that are yet to be uncovered.”
As the “en” in the web address suggests, there are plans to add wikis for languages other than English in the future. Adding new languages will depend on finding a group of dedicated people for that language. The various language wikis will be linked together and coordinated much like is done in Wikipedia. That is to say, there’ll be a lot of independence and each wiki will be useful as a starting point for research by the contributors to other swpat.org wikis. But that’s for the future.