Norwegian Minister of Modernization Morten Andreas Meyer declared: “Proprietary formats will no longer be acceptable in communication between citizens and government.” The minister also requires that all government institutions “by the end of 2005 have worked out a recommendation for the use of open source code in the public sector”.
Thomas Breitner has written (in German) a sociology Master’s thesis on the motivation and engagement of free software developers. He goes through the philosophy and ideology of the movement and has interviewed four free software developers on their motivation.
WIPO has opened a forum for discussion on IP:
The WIPO Online Forum is designed to enable and encourage an open debate on issues related to intellectual property in the information society, and in light of the goals of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
I hope the input will be taken into account. Next part of the WSIS process will take place in
Tunis, from 16 to 18 November 2005.
Herkko Hietanen notes that maybe Nokia’s patent pledge is not as restrictive as I thought:
Anonymoys reader makes a good remark in his comment about the Nokias gesture.
“That is, since they are publishing the kernel source (and applications) covered under the GPL, they can’t impose additional conditions — such as keeping current on patent royalties — on the use of that code. In fact, their obligations extend beyond their announcement. If I extract code from the kernel and put it in my program, they can’t enforce patents on that either.”
GPL does that. Nokia had to make the announcement. They distribute Linux hence any of their patents must be available to use with Linux under GPL.
I just spent two days struggling with a server hardware problem. At times, the Internet society is so fragile.
Digital systems are fundamental architectural components of the information society. Therefore it is silly that we need such a strong legalistic approach. Folks on the debian-legal mailing list have spent hours and hours making interpretations on different software licenses. The interpretations are very precise and good but I hope there wasn’t such need. But we’re forced to have such conversations.
Assistant professor Lucie Guibault said that programmers should more carefully mark their copyrights in GPL programs. Otherwise the court might be confused on who is the copyright holder: the FSF, who wrote the license, or somebody else?
The article received strong criticism such as
This “lawyer” is a blithering idiot. The GPL FAQ (http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl-howto.html) explicitly tells you to put your own copyright notice on any GPL’d source.
Maybe the commentor is right, but how many programmers really add their copyright notices? And how many of us who modify a GPL’d program follow this requirement (2 a):
a) You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.
If Linux kernel contributors actually followed this rule, each of the 15 000 files in the kernel source would have a long changelog at the beginning of the file.
With other infrastructure, we don’t need to negotiate on whether I’m allowed to walk on a public road or what I may use may the electricity for. Free software is a wonderful thing but the forced legalism is a curse.
P.S. A nice paper on trivial software patents.