Kayak Award

FII announces first annual "Kayak Award"

Brussels, June 25, 2007: the FFII, the volunteers who beat the largest ever industry lobby in the 2005 fight over softare patents, today announces a new award for activism, "The Kayak Award".

FFII president Pieter Hintjens explains: "across the world, volunteer activists help defend open standards and fight the curse of software patents. We believe it's time to recognise that these acts of sacrifice and courage are helping to build a better world. The Kayak is symbolic. In July 2005, industry lobbyists rented a yacht to cruise the river outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg, to promote the Software Patents Directive. A group of young FFII campaigners somehow found kayaks and managed to encricle the yacht. Photos of this David versus Goliath confrontation appeared in the papers. The kayak symbolises how quick thinking and bravery beat the largest lobbying machine ever constructed.

"Today I call on young activists to step forward and help us fight the industry lobbyists who want to corrupt open standards and use the cold dead grip of software patents to keep society enslaved with closed standards, expensive technology, and illegitimate monopolies."

The FFII will give the 2007 Kayak Award to the campaigner or team that makes the greatest contribution to open standards. The award consists of a 2,500 Euro cash prize and a free trip to the FFII's annual conference in November.

Veteran FFII campaigner Benjamin Henrion explains: "the greatest present danger to open standards is Microsoft's attempt to get its format rubber-stamped as an international ISO standard. Microsoft has spent millions on rent-a-mob support for this pseudo-standard. It's time for activists across the world to stand up, to reach out to their national ISO bodies, to explain why Microsoft's OpenXML format is not open, not a standard, and not XML. We already have an ISO standard for word processing, called ODF (Open Document Format). Double standards are mad, except of course you're a convicted monopolist like Microsoft."

To qualify for nomination for the Kayak Award, a team or campaigner must show how they made a significant impact on the ISO process, "to defend ODF and kick-out Microsoft's attempts to corrupt the international standards-setting process", as Henrion puts it. "Anything goes: websites, letter-writing campaigns, going to meetings, even kayaks."

The deadline for nominations is 31 August, and the award winner will be announced on 30 September 2007.

For more details see www.noOOxml.org, a website that the FFII has set-up to fight Microsoft's attempts to spoil the international standards-setting process.

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