✍ BCS Members: Vote Now

If you’re a BCS Member or Fellow you’ve received a voting pack in the mail that needs your attention. Please vote this weekend so that there’s no risk of missing the deadline. I’ve written one more time on my ComputerWorldUK blog about the issues, but the synopsis is that no matter how you vote on the six vague no-confidence motions, please make sure you vote against the Special Resolution that sets the threshold for calling another EGM so high that it’s beyond the resources of an ordinary Member.

☞ Freedom and Secrets

  • Not only is the patent system broken (it has forgotten to protect the public good in return for granting a temporary monopoly), but it turns out that thousands of the things are kept secret.

    Shaped for an analog age where businesses were control points in a disconnected society, patents have become sinkholes for money and innovation in the connected digital age, allowing unjust monopolisation and chilling of network effects.

    We are so overdue reform of the patent system, in the UK, the US and pretty much everywhere else.

  • Great round-up by Brenda of recent developments on ACTA, worth taking a look. The moves by India to start a rebellion are especially welcome.
    (tags: ACTA)
  • Great to see that there’s thinking about copyright reform in progress in the UK, even if it’s a bit inaccessible.
  • In which we are reminded of the context and the full quote from which the phrase is extracted and realise that it is being spun by those who prefer control to individual liberty.

✍ “Life Of Brian”?

One of the frustrations of being a software freedom advocate is how many of the attacks that are made on me come from people who most observers would consider to be “fighting for the same side”. My recent call for volunteers to work on revamping the Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a case in point. Of the public comments I’ve read, the majority berate me for daring to be positive about OSI rather than castigating it in favor of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as they themselves do. (Fortunately the private e-mails are much more encouraging).

But it’s not just a tension between OSI and FSF. For example, in one forum where I mentioned my membership card for the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) had arrived, one reply asked if I would also be joining the FSF. Software freedom arouses extreme passions among its adherents. Why does this happen? Find out on my ComputerWorldUK blog

☞ The Business Of Open Source Is Liberty

  • While this is slick (if predictable) marketing there's a smarter solution than switching away from the software in which you've already invested to something else from Novell (or anyone else) and becoming the slave of proprietary software.

    Since most of the software Sun produced is open source, current users can just stick with it and buy the service they need from a new supplier, such as ForgeRock. That's investment protection and technology continuity both provided by the liberties open source unlocks.

    All Novell are offering here is a chance to be a slave to a new master, and they are offering it to customers who have already broken free – if they choose to be.

  • A good argument here from Glyn. I'd go further and suggest that $1B open source companies might not actually be open source companies…
  • I completely agree, but I and so many others have said it all before and no-one has done anything about it. I hope the author of this article will be joining me to revamp OSI…

☞ Political Costs Prevent Actual Savings

  • The speech by Neelie Kroes last week in Brussels was very carefully constructed and avoided almost all mention of free and open source software. In the spirit of rewarding the good and ignoring the bad, several commentators (such as Karsten here) have been loud in their congratulations but there's still a strong sense that the political cost of even mentioning open source is too high for Europe's politicians.

    I see this as a sign of the strength of the concept. The corporate forces that bear down upon the European Commission (even those apparently supporting open source when they speak from the side of their mouth facing the FOSS communities) do so out of fear that they will be forced to act transparently and openly, and we need to keep up the pressure. So I welcome the tiny concessions Kroes made in this speech, and as a concerned and expert citizen I demand more.

  • Adobe has actually created a security-related update for Flash on OpenSolaris. Of course, if it was open source we could all help them, but the community is still grateful for the work they've done to fix the serious security hole this time.
  • Both ForgeRock and OSSTech in Japan are developing the OpenAM codebase and it makes sense for them to cooperate. I'm very pleased to be able to announce this agreement, hopefully the first of many as we build a truly open ecosystem around the OpenAM open source project.

✍ Your Chance To Reform OSI

OSI was formed in 1998 to solve a pressing problem. The founders embraced the ideals of software freedom, but saw that businesses – being non-persons – lacked any way to embrace a philosophical principle. To advance software freedom, it needed to be pragmatically “projected” onto the surface of the computer industry of 1998, creating rules that could be followed without demanding ideological “purity”. The result was a focus on a certain kind of advocacy, plus an enormously valuable effort to analyse, categorise and selectively endorse copyright licenses. OSI was the pragmatic projection of software freedom onto the computer industry of 1998.

But in 2010, the industry has changed. It’s due in no small part to the effects of software freedom on technology and innovation, with the pragmatic liberties it guarantees seeding today’s key trends. It’s also in part due to the attempted corruption of open standards and the policies that rely on them, which has allowed proprietary software an undeserved ascendancy. So while new businesses are able to be formed with philosophical and ethical principles embedded in their DNA, existing ones still can’t “embrace software freedom” since that’s a capability only of intelligent individuals.

So it’s time for a revamp. Read more on my ComputerWorldUK blog or at OSI

☞ Random Weekend Links

☞ Copyright Reality

☞ BCS Rebels Finally Get A Voice

Rajan Anketell, one of the signatories calling the BCS EGM, said in a broadcast e-mail:

“You will already be aware of the EGM call, of which I am a signatory. You will also be aware of all propaganda (much of it inaccurate) put out by the Chief Executive and President. You may not be aware that our request for equal access to the BCS IT resources and the membership has been denied. This denial of equal opportunity is in contrast to that adopted by the IET at the EGM a few years ago. So this email is an attempt to put our case to you and respectfully ask that whatever your own views are on the EGM you forward it in the spirit of fair play. This will give members the opportunity to see the real reasons why the EGM was called and make up their own minds on how to vote.”

He then pointed to the following sites, which I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to read:

  • Well worth reading – a rational set of issues from rational and experienced people. The fact the BCS leadership has sought to frame these people as Luddites merely amplifies the authority with which they speak. The BCS press office and leadership are doing there best to keep this all quiet and represent none of these views on the “official” web site – let’s make sure they get heard.
  • The EGM rebels have finally been able to put together a web site responding to the well-funded attacks their own professional society has been making against them. Tell everyone, becuase I doubt the BCS will do so.

☞ BCS Leadership Targets Member Rights

On Monday I wrote about the crisis facing the British Computer Society (BCS) as its current leadership tries to jettison the old name. I found out about the move in an expensively-produced glossy mailing I received on the subject. Just a few days later, the actual voting papers arrived. They contain an ill-considered Quick Vote option that BCS Professional Members need to carefully avoid.

Read more on my ComputerWorldUK Blog

[Also in this thread: BCS EGM, BCS Faces No-Confidence Vote Crisis, this post, BCS Rebels Finally Get A Voice]

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