Drafting law

Ernest Prabhakar prabhaka at apple.com
Fri Mar 11 18:23:58 UTC 2005

Hi Jan,

While I wish you well, I am not as sure that the OSI is the proper venue 
for such things, given 
its existing charter.   I would think groups like the EFF a better 
vehicle for such lobbying.

The reason is that pretty much the only thing that binds all of us 
together here is the OSD, 
and that is a fairly fragile relationship.   Defining policy is a very 
difficult, messy business, 
and would likely split parts of this committee into different factions 
who have 
diverging concerns that are not resolvable by appeal to the OSD.  If the 
OSD can't resolve it, 
then either we cease to function, or we have to impose some other 
decision-making process.  
Either one, IMHO, would be be death of OSI as we know it.

While somebody may well need to take the kinds of actions you describe 
(I don't take a 
position one way or the other), I don't see any way for the OSI to 
pursue an activist agenda 
like that and still maintain its (IMHO important) role as neutral 
gaurdian of the OSD.

On the other hand, I could imagine the OSI (or even this committee) 
evaluating proposed 
legislation based on how it impacts the ability to fulfill the OSD.   
However, evaluation is 
different then endorsement, and endorsement is different than support.   
Recognizing and 
honoring those distinctions, I believe, is crucial to the OSI surviving 
in its current form.

-- Ernie P.
(speaking for myself, not Apple)

---------Included Message----------
>Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005 16:09:38 +0100
>From: "Jan Dockx" <Jan.Dockx at peopleware.be>
>To: <license-discuss at opensource.org>
>Subject: Drafting law
>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 
>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 
>a lobbying group in a legislative effort. We should be trying to 
>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
>PeopleWare NV - Head Office
>Cdt.Weynsstraat 85
>B-2660 Hoboken
>Tel: +32 3 448.33.38
>Fax: +32 3 448.32.66
>PeopleWare NV - Branch Office Geel
>Kleinhoefstraat 5
>B-2440 Geel
>Tel: +32 14 57.00.90
>Fax: +32 14 58.13.25
---------End of Included Message----------

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