Post Syndicated from Bradley M. Kuhn original http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2011/12/16/faif-fosdem.html
Today Karen Sandler and I
released Episode 0x1E of
the Free as in Freedom oggcast (available
formats). There are two important things discussed on that oggcast that
I want to draw your attention to:
Submit a proposal for the Legal & Policy Issues DevRoom
Fontana, Karen Sandler, and I are coordinating
and Policy Issues DevRoom
at FOSDEM 2012.
for Participation for the DevRoom is now available. I’d like to
ask anyone reading this blog post who has an interest in policy and/or
legal issues related to software freedom to submit a talk by Friday 30
December 2011, by
We only have about six slots for speakers (it’s a one-day DevRoom), so
we won’t be able to accept all proposals. I just wanted to let everyone
know that so you don’t flame me if you submit and get rejected.
Meanwhile, note that our goal is to avoid the “this is what
copyrights, trademarks and patents are” introductory talks. Our
focus is on complex issues for those already informed about the basics.
We really felt that the level of discourse about legal and policy issues
at software freedom conferences needs to rise.
There are, of course, plenty of secret membership
clubs 0, even some with their own
private conferences, where these sorts of important issues are discussed.
I personally seek to move high-level policy discussion and debate out of
the secret “old-boys” club backrooms and into a public space
where the entire software freedom community can discuss openly important
legal and policy questions in the community. I hope this DevRoom is a
first step in that direction!
Issues & Questions List for the Software Freedom Non-Profits Debate
to debates about the value of non-profit organizations for software
In FaiFCast 0x1E,
Karen and I discuss the debate in depth. As part of that, as you’ll see
in the show notes, I’ve made a list of issues that I think were fully
conflated during the recent debates. I can’t spare the time to opine in
detail on them right now (although Karen and I do a bit of that in the
oggcast itself), but I did want to copy the list over here in my blog,
mainly to list them out as issues worth thinking about in a software
Should a non-profit home decide what technical infrastructure is
used for a software freedom project? And if so, what should it be?
If the non-profit doesn’t provide technological services, should
non-profits allow their projects to rely on for-profits for
technological or other services?
Should a non-profit home set political and social positions that
must be followed by the projects? If so, how strictly should they be
Should copyrights be held by the non-profit home of the project, or
with the developers, or a mix of the two?
Should the non-profit dictate licensing requirements on the
project? If so, how many licenses and which licenses are
Should a non-profit dictate strict copyright provenance
requirements on their projects? If not, should the non-profit at least
provide guidelines and recommendations?
This list of questions is far from exhaustive, but I
think it’s a pretty good start.
0 Admittedly, I’ve got a
proverbial axe to grind about these secretive membership-only groups,
since, for nearly all of them, I’m persona non grata. My frustration
level in this reached a crescendo when, during a session at LinuxCon
Europe recently, I asked for the criteria to join one such private legal
issues discussions group, and I was told the criteria themselves were
secret. I pointed out to the coordinators of the forum that this wasn’t a
particularly Free Software friendly way to run a discussion group, and
they simply changed the subject. My hope is that this FOSDEM DevRoom can
be a catalyst to start a new discussion forum for legal and policy issues
related to software freedom that doesn’t have this problem.
BTW, just to clarify: I’m not talking
about FLOSS Foundations as
one of these secretive, members-only clubs. While the FLOSS Foundations
main mailing list is indeed invite-only, it’s very easy to join and the
only requirement is: “if you repost emails from this list
publicly, you’ll probably be taken off the mailing list”. There
House Rule” or other silly, unenforceable, and
spend-inordinate-amount-of-times-remembering-how-to-follow rules in
place for FLOSS Foundations, but such silly rulesets are now common with
these other secretive legal issues meeting groups.
Finally, I know I haven’t named publicly the members-only clubs I’m
talking about here, and that’s by design. This is the first time I’ve
mentioned them at all in my blog, and my hope is that they’ll change
their behaviors soon. I don’t want to publicly shame them by name until
I give them a bit more time to change their behaviors. Also, I don’t
want to inadvertently promote these fora either, since IMO their very
structure is flawed and community-unfriendly.
have claimed incorrectly
that the text in the footnote above somehow indicates my unwillingness to
follow the Chatham House Rule (CHR).
I refuted that
on identi.ca, noting that the text above doesn’t say that, and those who
think it does have simply misunderstood. My primary point (which I’ll now
state even more explicitly) is that CHR is difficult to follow,
particularly when it is mis-applied to a mailing list. CHR is designed
for meetings, which have a clear start time and a finish time. Mailing
lists aren’t meetings, so the behavior of CHR when applied to a mailing
list is often undefined.
I should furthermore note that people who have lived under CHR for a
series of meetings also have similar concerns as mine. For
Randal, who worked under CHR on Project
The group decided to adopt Chatham House Rule for our
discussions. … At first glance it seems
quite sensible: encourage open participation by being careful about what
you share publicly. But, after almost a year of working under it, I have
to say I’m not a big fan. It’s really quite awkward sometimes figuring out
what you can and can’t say publicly. I’m trying to follow it in this post,
but I’ve probably missed in spots. The simple rule is tricky to apply.
I agree with Allison.