Drafting law

Jan Dockx Jan.Dockx at peopleware.be
Fri Mar 11 15:09:38 UTC 2005

After the last week of discussion, especially concerning the
non-proliferation, and the fact that *all* existing OSI-certified
licenses are written in the US context, and that our mileage in Europe
does differ (and so it does in other parts of the world), I have come
to the conclusion that the time has passed to try to whip out a, or a
small number of, one-size-fits-all license(s).

What we, or rather you, or maybe them, are actually doing, is trying to
fit an original idea, which is crystal clear to most of the people
concerned, into all existing law and legislations (just consider the
differences between US states). Furthermore, the existing laws are not
written with software in mind in the first place -- the concept of
software did not exist. And that applies to both copyright and patent
law. No legislation in the world even has adapted its laws really,
sufficiently, to make clear how they apply to software (or computer
generated data, for that matter). This is, in my opinion, remarkable,
after, what, 40 years of software industry? In my opinion, the main
reason for this lack of progress is the utter lack of understanding of
the nature of software, or of this OSS idea which is crystal clear to
us, in parliaments. Reading the transcripts of the European Parliament
sessions on software patents proofs my point.

I believe the time has come to cut the crap, and work the other way
around. What the OSI should do, or rather, what we should do, is become
a lobbying group in a legislative effort. We should be trying to define
law for OSS. New law, good law, that consolidates the crystal clear
idea of OSS. This is not the Anglo-Saxon way, I understand. Maybe that
is the reason why I also think that the first target of such action
should be the European Parliament, not the US. If we start now, I do
believe that we can mobilize Green (for sure), probably the liberals
(pretty sure, for the Flemish and Walloon parts, not so sure for the
Dutch or German, etc...), and possibly the socialist faction for such
positive action.

If law is defined, that says that there are 3 kinds (whatever) of OSS
systems, and that it resides under copyright law (!), and that we all
agree that authors are indemnified, except for murder one, etc.., and
that you make clear which law applies by using this or that clause,
etc., and that we agree in law that you don't need a license for OSS
(like you don't need one to read a book), the rest goes away.

Met vriendelijke groeten,

Jan Dockx

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