Larry Lessig takes on Washington

I had the opportunity to sit down with Larry Lessig last week.  Co-founder of Creative Commons, law professor, author, and copyright guru, Lessig is a visionary of law and technology policy.

In the FLOSS community, Lessig is best known for his book Free Culture and work on copyright policy. In his view, attitudes towards copyright started to change when we saw kids and grandmothers sued for file sharing. Lessig has never argued for abolishment of copyright, but he has always argued that there needs to be balancea more permissive society that allows artists to reserve the rights they need, while allowing others to remix and improve without fear of prosecution.

But two years ago, Lessig moved away from the copyright field to invest more time researching institutional corruption and citizen-funded elections. » Read more

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Project Harmony looks to improve contribution agreements

On 16 June Project Harmony had its first official meeting in Boston, and we're planning another in London on 1st July at Canonical's offices.  Its initial goal is to avoid proliferation in contribution agreements across FOSS software projects where those organisations chose to work with contribution agreements.

A Canonical instigated project, being led by their General Counsel, Project Harmony is open to all interested parties to join. It presently involves a group of industry interested parties, from companies, projects and those with personal interests in FOSS. » Read more

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A new and better Open Source Initiative

When I said recently that we still need the Open Source Initiative (OSI), it started a flood of comment. There's no doubt that we need OSI - but we need a better OSI. The one we have now is just too small to be effective and too mired in past successes; a renaissance is needed. You can help. » Read more

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A new contributor agreement for Fedora

A little over a month ago, the Fedora Project announced a plan to replace the existing Fedora Individual Contributor License Agreement (FICLA) with something new, which we've imaginatively titled the Fedora Project Contributor Agreement (FPCA). After gathering some feedback on the first draft from the Fedora community, the Fedora Project published a revised draft. » Read more

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Spreading the dandelions: Open Your World recap

Thank you to all who joined us for the first Open Your World forum yesterday, and a special thanks to our speakers. We hope you all learned something new to apply to your lives. » Read more

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Open Your World forum: Thanks for coming

That image isn't quite true anymore. It was today, but now it's over. But if you missed it, you can still register here and view the archives. We'll tell you more tomorrow.

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Fighting patent aggression the open source way

One of the most important aspects of the recent trial victory for Red Hat and Novell was a finding that the asserted patent claims were invalid.  This meant that the jury was persuaded by clear and convincing evidence that the patents were improperly granted.  Getting to this decision involved collaboration that demonstrated the power of open source to defend against patent aggression.


For the open source community, it's worth noting with pride that a substantial portion of the prior art used in the case was identified by community members. » Read more

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Standing up to a patent bully

Red Hat and Novell stood up to a patent bully and got a favorable jury verdict in the IPI trial which invalidated some software patents that should never have been issued. It's hard to see how that's not a good thing for open source. It's also good that the particular battle has inspired discussion of the need for fundamental reform of the U.S. patent system. Red Hat has vigorously advocated such reform, and has taken strong positions on software patentability before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Bilski case and the European Patent Office. » Read more

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Total victory for open source software in a patent lawsuit

The jury verdict last Friday in favor of Red Hat and Novell in a case based on bad software patents owned by "non-practicing entities" is an important victory for the open source community.  Those in the business of acquiring bad software patents to coerce payments or bring lawsuits should be worried.  Two such businesses were plaintiffs in our case, and they did their best to confuse the jury in one of their favorite locales, eastern Texas.  But it didn't work. The jury unanimously found that the patents were not infringed, and, even worse for the plaintiffs, that the patents were invalid.

» Read more

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Gene patenting and free software: a breakthrough

Last week, to the surprise of patent lawyers and the biotechnology industry, advocates for technological freedom won an enormous victory against socially harmful distortions of patent law.  The Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York held invalid patents owned by Myriad Genetics on diagnostic testing for genetic susceptibility to the most common hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer.  By "patenting" the right to determine whether the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are present in the relevant mutated form in a women's genome, Myriad Genetics has been able to exclude all other laboratories from conducting the test.  Patients and their insurers have paid much more, and women and their families have waited crucial weeks longer than necessary for information relevant to treatment and potentially affecting survival.   » Read more

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