Debian Position on Software Patents

February 19th, 2012

The Debian Project announces the availability of its patent policy for the Debian archive.

The Debian Project maintains a critical stance towards software patents: we consider software patents to be a threat to Free Software and an obstacle to the Debian mission of providing an entirely Free operating system for everyone's use. We believe software patents provide no advantage in promoting software innovation and we encourage our upstream authors to object to software patents.

At the same time, given the de facto possibility of patenting software-related ideas in several countries around the world, it is important to neither underestimate nor overestimate software patent issues. We are particularly concerned about patent FUD and we have worked to improve clarity on the subject.

After the publication of the Community Distribution Patent Policy FAQ, the availability of a patent policy for the Debian archive is our next step in coping with the software patent system that we hope to see abolished. We thank lawyers at the Software Freedom Law Center for working with us on this policy.

Patent Aggression is widespread throughout the information technology industry at present, said Eben Moglen, founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center. Parties have spent billions of dollars trying to use patent monopolies to halt innovation and threaten innovators. With the adoption of this patent policy Debian prepares to defend its developers and users more effectively, forcefully, and knowledgeably.

Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli said The Debian Project has a long tradition of standing up for users' rights to an entirely Free operating system. Patent fears, uncertainties and doubts undermine this. A patent policy and a contact point for related issues in the Debian archive will help reducing patent FUD among our users.

About Debian

The Debian Project was founded in 1993 by Ian Murdock to be a truly free community project. Since then the project has grown to be one of the largest and most influential open source projects. Thousands of volunteers from all over the world work together to create and maintain Debian software. Available in 70 languages, and supporting a huge range of computer types, Debian calls itself the universal operating system.

Contact Information

For further information, please visit the Debian web pages at http://www.debian.org/ or send mail to <press@debian.org>.