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The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a lobbying platform for open standards in the Information Technology sector.

FFII Switzerland is the national chapter of FFII in Switzerland. It is constituted by allo members of FFII which are based in Switzerland or interested in Swiss activities. Part of the team is a designated coordinator of activities in Switzerland, which keeps contact with the Board of FFII to create activity reports and to request ressources and assistance.

Principles

A Free Information Infrastructure

For six years the FFII has fought for the rights of small and independent software authors as well as small and medium sized software companies. We apply the techniques of free and open software development to our research and activism. We live from the voluntary efforts of hundreds of activists and thousands of supporters who believe, like us, that it is possible to build a better world, that big business and big government don't always have the right answers, and that the organised work of volunteers can beat even the best paid professional lobbyists.

Competition, Copyright and Open Standards

We believe that innovation comes from competition in an open and fair market, backed by an appropriate concept of property. In the software industry, this means access to a full and open market (not restricted by monopolistic practices), to a robust copyright regime (not undermined by software patents), and to fully open (not licensed) standards backed by independent bodies.

Regulation of the Global Patent Industry

The global patent industry acts as an unregulated monopoly and it is unbalancing the system of property rights that underpin the software industry. The FFII believes that the patent industry must be properly regulated, by democratically-elected legislative bodies, and by civil high courts.

No Software Patents

Software patents are a barrier to a free market in information technology. Each software patent claims to "own" areas of the software market. The FFII believes that software patents are inherently unsafe, unnecesssary, and that the global patent industry seeks these for the sake of profit, not innovation.

Copyright

Brian Kahin said in 1990, of US software patents: «never before has an industry in which copyright was widely established suddenly been subjected to patenting.» The FFII believes that copyright is an effective and accurate form of ownership for software, though the life+70 duration is far too long for software.

No anticompetitive copyright enforcement measures

The protection of technical measures for copyright enforcement, such as encryption, can be used for anticompetitive pruposes by companies who are big enough. The only way to compete is to be able to interoperate with the products of these vendors. Thus, any law which is trying to criminalize breaking these measures harms competition and innovation. Furthermore, it helps to keep the state of the art of protection measures down to the level it has reached today, while it is necessary to do continued research in this area.

Open Standards

The Internet was built on open standards and the FFII believes these are essential to the healthy growth of the IT market. Open standards are patent-free, usable with no licenses or other conditions, and governed by independent bodies (not vendors). Licensed standards are by definition a barrier to competition.

Clear Rules and Balanced Enforcement

Any market needs clear rules and balanced enforcement. The software market needs clarity when it comes to ownership. Software patents have turned a clear set of rules, based on copyright, into unclear ones. The patent industry has become too powerful and seeks to increase its wealth at the expense of the real software industry. We believe that the role of government is to respect the needs of the market, not promote the interests of the few.

Achievements

FFII has been very active in the debate on patentability of software in the European Union. From 1998 up to now, FFII has successfully prevented the introduction of software patents. More than that, the FFII lobbyists have managed to establish themselves as experts on property rights to Members of the European Parliament, and have significantly influenced the official definition of Open Standards at the European level.

Structure

The FFII is organized into chapters for each country, such as Great Britain and France. All these chapters form the FFII International, which forms a common strategy and is responsible for international regulations and treaties.

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