Open source news this week: October 21 - October 25, 2013

Weekly wrap-up: Innovation Act could thwart patent trolls, open source needs more attorneys, and more

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Open source news this week:

October 21 - October 25, 2013


What other open source-related news stories did you read about this week? Share them with us in the comments section. Follow us on Twitter where we share these stories in real time.


  • Innovation Act could thwart patent trolls. A new patent reform bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week was called “the single most important patent reform or high tech bill this Congress considers” by cosponsor Rep. Lamar Smith. Called the Innovation Act of 2013, the bill is designed to prevent abusive patent troll litigation, reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The proposal includes requiring patent holders to detail the parties that would benefit from the litigation, requiring the loser in a patent case to pay the winner’s court fees, and more. The EFF outlines the key elements of the legislation, saying: "Taken together, these reforms would make life much harder for patent trolls and make the world safer for true innovators. Of course, today’s discussion draft is not perfect."
  • Your Honor, I’d like to defend open source. The legal complications that come along with open source software are creating a need for more tech savvy lawyers. During his opening remarks at LinuxCon Europe, Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin talked about how the open source community would benefit from more attorneys who understand how open source collaboration works, reports infoworld.com. The article discusses how the standardization of things like contributor agreements could also help when licensing issues arise. It’s a great read if you’ve ever struggled with open source-related legal issues.
  • Presenting the new OSI director. The Open Software Initiative (OSI) announced this week that it hired its first-ever full-time management appointment in its 15-year history. Patrick Masson will begin serving as the general manager for the non-profit OSI on November 8. Masson spent 20 years in higher education, most recently serving as the chief technology officer for the University of Massachusetts’ online learning provider, UmassOnline. OSI is the steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD) and the community-recognized body for reviewing and approving open source licenses. OSI board director Deborah Bryant said: "The hiring of a general manager signals the board's deep commitment carrying out the non-profit's mission."
  • "More geeks in government." The open data movement in U.S. government is gaining more momentum. This week, The Guardian featured a column detailing different ways U.S. cities are using open data, saying: "Access to information is no longer a nice-to-have, rather it is a standard." In related news, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist detailed his experience this week with the city’s SF311 mobile app, which allows users to quickly report improvements that may need to be made to their neighborhood, such as reporting graffiti and potholes. The article also pointed out the very cool motto of San Francisco’s chief innovation officer Jay Nath: "More geeks in government." Meanwhile, three U.S. cities signed open data policies into law this week: Louisville, Kentucky; West Sacramento, California; and Oakland, California. The Sunlight Foundation has details on these latest cities to join the open data movement, as well as a map that shows other cities that have put open data policies to work.

Hat tip to opensource.com community ambassador Robin Muilwijk for putting a slew of open source stories on my radar this week. Thanks, Robin! Feel free to share the open source stories you found interesting this week in the comments.

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Ginny Hamilton - Ginny Hamilton is community manager for EnterprisersProject.com, an online publication and community focused on how CIOs and IT leaders create business value through information technology. A former journalist, Ginny is passionate about local politics, journalism, technology, and social media. Follow her on Twitter for coverage of all those topics along with a healthy mix of cat photos.