Start the stopwatch

OK, start the clock - let's see how long it takes The Register to acknowledge and correct the egregious error they made in the article Software patents loom large again. In that article, the anonymous writer asserts that

The bill had been supported by the European pro-patent lobby, which included corporations such as Microsoft and Sun, who claimed that the directive would encourage investment in research and development in Europe.

What rubbish! Microsoft was indeed a prominent proponent of software patents. On the other hand, as was well documented, Sun and Red Hat were the core of a small but significant industry group lobbying around the position that the directive would be harmful because it threatened the freedom to create interoperable free/open source software. Anyone who had been paying the slightest attention to the issue, or did more than the most cursory research, would know this was the case.

[Click! Corrected at 2pm PST Jan 18. Thanks, Drew.]


good luck Simon.... :-) it was of course IBM that has been saying one thing in the US and another in Europe. On another note -i am meeting Duane Nickull from Adobe tomorrow early evening for a drink and nibble. wanna come?

Posted by james governor on January 17, 2006 at 08:54 PM PST #

The article was a buy-in from Electric News Net in Ireland.

So you may also want to get on to Deirdre McArdle, the original author.

Posted by J Heald on January 17, 2006 at 09:44 PM PST #

This seems to be a common misconception. That article was linking via slash dot and many of the slashdotters posted the same misconception. I find it a strange one considering Sun's open sourcing a lot of its software among other things.

Posted by Waseem Khan on January 18, 2006 at 12:38 AM PST #

Actually James I think IBM's position is entirely consistent with the patent regime in place in the USA and what we wanted to happen in Europe. I was IBM Europes Technical consultant on the IPR/Open Source team until 2004 and have taken part in, and given formal statements on IBM's position WRT to open source and patents at a number of European and EU policy meetings, and from time to time in the USA. In the USA we have been lobbying for change to the patent process and have now gone further, it was always the case that we didn't want to see the same mistakes made in Europe. I'm not able to comment on our current position as I'm deep in a development organisation these days and not in public relations or the open source organisation so can't speak for them but it’s easy to take cheap shots at our position without understanding it. Given the cards we’ve been dealt WRT the US Patent laws I’m entirely comfortable we are doing the right thing in both places. Mark Cathcart IBM Distinguished Engineer and open source advocate since 1983…

Posted by Mark Cathcart on January 18, 2006 at 06:57 AM PST #

How long is it going to take you to answer the Govna's request for a drink?!?!!?! The clock is ticking, mate.

Posted by Ashlee Vance on January 18, 2006 at 07:04 AM PST #

For the record, Simon notified The Register by email at 1:14pm PT, so the change was made 45 minutes after we found out about it.

Of course if Simon had notified us first, rather than informing the blog-o-sphere and then waiting nine and a quarter hours to tell the publisher of the article, the clock might have stopped ticking very much sooner.

Clearly, correcting the error wasn't such a high priority.

Click! indeed.

Posted by Andrew Orlowski on January 19, 2006 at 08:22 AM PST #

Actually, Andrew, correcting the error publicly was my first priority; I then sent e-mail just as soon as I was (a) off the transatlantic flight I boarded just after seeing the error and blogging it and (b) working out who to write to after IM with you, so that you could apply the correction to your copy of the error. Paid journalists are not the only media any more. Still, you're to be congratulated for correcting your instance same-day; almost as fast as a wiki :-)

Posted by Simon Phipps on January 20, 2006 at 04:01 AM PST #

"...correcting the error publicly was my first priority..."

I think you mean to say that blogging was your first priority. Since you'd chosen to do this rather than make any attempt to contact the publisher, The Register didn't find out about it until many hours later.

A weblog does not give you telepathic powers - in our experience, a direct email is more reliable and effective.

"... working out who to write to after IM with you ... "

I'm sorry to hear you lost your address book. But the masthead with contact information for the editors is two clicks away. So, nine hours after you "started the stopwatch", the publisher was finally notified, and made the change within the hour.

You doubtless have your reasons for choosing to pander to your blog audience, but please don't expect to be take seriously when you say correcting a "egrerious error" is an urgent priority. You've made your own priorities perfectly clear.

Next time, help us help you.


Posted by Andrew Orlowski on January 20, 2006 at 06:07 AM PST #

Deep breaths, Andrew. I'm complimenting you on your responsiveness, which is contrary to the reports made by others, and explaining I was rushing before boarding a plane to ensure the many 1000s of people who read this blog knew the facts. No slight on the people who read your blog, even if there's no comment area. I suggest you chill, accept the compliment and move on.

Posted by Simon Phipps on January 20, 2006 at 06:26 AM PST #

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