Subject: Re: [Fwd: Speaker for the Free]
From: "Adam C. Engst" <ace@xns.org>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 10:22:50 -0700

Phew! First off, let me say that Drummond is at Internet World today, 
and will be travelling to London over the weekend, I believe, so he 
may not be as responsive as would be ideal in the short term.

At 8:43 AM -0700 10/27/00, Tim O'Reilly wrote:
>Adam, I thought you or Drummond might want to respond to this.  And if
>it was not your intent to support the patent stuff at the European
>commission, it would be great if Drummond sent input saying that wasn't
>what he meant.  It's really important that patent advocates don't get to
>win this fight in Europe, because there's this game where the US patent
>office says "we have to harmonize with other countries" and then pushes
>other countries in the direction that they want the US to go.  It's kind
>of an extra-national lobbying game.

I can't speak to Drummond's intent with those words, and I don't know 
the context they were taken from. I hesitate to comment in any more 
concrete way, but I will note that we at XNSORG are working through 
our open source approach right now with the XNS software, and I don't 
think we're representative of the free software community at all (for 
a variety of legal, technical, and organizational reasons).

>When you asked if I would consider being on the board of XNS.org, and I
>declined, it was because of this kind of ambiguous position with regard
>to openness.

I'll address this privately; what I fear you saw as an ambiguous 
position was a combination of unformed opinions and inexperience with 
the open source community that we recognized and hoped to ameliorate 
with your assistance.

>  As you know, unlike Richard Stallman, I support the
>fundamental position that it's OK to have private intellectual property
>rights, even on top of a free software base (that's why I prefer
>Berkeley style licenses in most cases), but I am extremely wary when
>patents, rather than copyrights, are used to assert those rights.  The
>scope of protection given by patents is so much greater than the rights
>granted by copyright that it seems to me that they almost always tip the
>balance too far in the direction of the rights of creators and away from
>the rights of the public.  When you add to that the fact that the PTO
>makes it ridiculously easy to get a patent, the system is so badly
>broken that any encouragement to it is dangerous.

You're far more versed in the subject than I, but I do tend to agree 
that the patent system here is being abused in a variety of ways that 
we'd certainly prefer other countries didn't fall prey to as well.

>If you agree, please ask Drummond to communicate to the EC commission
>looking into software patents that his words are being taken out of
>context.

I'll certainly make sure he sees this and can evaluate whether his 
words are being taken out of context. More that that I can't 
personally promise.

cheers... -Adam

>--
>Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
>101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472
>+1 707-829-0515, FAX +1 707-829-0104
>tim@oreilly.com, http://www.oreilly.com
>
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>Message-ID: <20001027145049.A18986@margaux.inria.fr>
>Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 14:50:49 +0200
>From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
>To: fsb@crynwr.com
>Cc: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
>Subject: Speaker for the Free
>Reply-To: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
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>
>
>HELP NEEDED:
>------------
>
>I am told the following quote is from Drummond Reed, President of
>Onename, who created the XNS open source platform :
>
>      "I think it's important to draw the distinction that open source
>      is invariably used to create an interoperable platform, i.e., a
>      common body of source code that creates a foundation on top of
>      which applications can be built. The goal of open source is to
>      make sure that IP rights or other proprietary rights do not
>      interfere with that platform. However all platforms exist to
>      support applications built "on top" of that platform. Windows
>      applications, Linux applications, Perl applications, etc. I've
>      yet to see an open source license that required applications
>      built on top of its platform to cede back IP rights - clearly
>      that would destroy incentive to use that platform.
>
>       So the value of IP rights which might encompass a platform fall
>      primarily on the value of being able to protect applications
>      built on top of the platform. The rest of the rights necessary
>      to create the platform are often most valuable when given away
>      -open sourced -in order to incent growth of the platform that
>      makes the applications valuable. It's that simple."
>
>   It is being used in a document (page 4 of the PDF document below)
>published by a directorate of the European Commission, and used as
>evidence in a consultation concerning software patenting, to assert
>the compatibility of patenting and free software.  One of the issues
>in the consultation is the fact the software patenting can harm
>open-source/free software.
>
>   see the context on page 3 of the paper (or in the post-scriptum below):
>  http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/intprop/indprop/study.pdf
>   and for the political context:
>  http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/intprop/indprop/softpaten.htm
>
>   I do not know Drummond Reed, and I do not know whether he is aware
>of the role his words are now playing.
>
>   My questions:
>
>    - what are your comments ?
>
>    - how representative is Drummond Reed of the free software community ?
>
>
>   (and any original comment you care about software patenting)
>
>Cordialement
>
>
>    Bernard Lang
>
>PS
>
>If you do not wish to look up the document, here is the context
>preceeding the quote.
>
>      Developers of open-source software
>
>        All the above discussion applies to developers of open-source
>      software but there are some important additional
>      features. Open-source software is an important alternative to
>      proprietary platforms. An example of the growing importance of
>      open-source software is the support being given by IBM. (This
>      involvement by IBM is, we believe, a straightforward response to
>      customer needs.) A necessary feature of the propagation of
>      open-source software is copyright and the cascade licensing of
>      it e.g. through the GNU General Public License. The open-source
>      community considers patents a threat to the development of
>      open-source software and aims to ensure that patents do not
>      affect such development. This is a consistent position. The GNU
>      General Public License contains the statement "we have made it
>      clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use
>      or not licensed at all". There is an analogy here to the
>      position on patents in some standards, informal or formal.
>
>         However this position on patents could well
>      change. Developers of open source software may find it
>      advantageous to file patents to obtain bargaining positions
>      e.g. licence money from owners of proprietary platforms. In any
>      case the historical postion of the open source community is
>      compatible with recognition that a developer could in any case
>      want to obtain patents on specific applications. This point has
>      been made by a number of people we have consulted. The
>      importance of this can be illustrated by the following quote
>      from one of them:
>
>      [then the above quote from Drummond Reed]
>
>--
>          Non aux Brevets Logiciels  -  No to Software Patents
>            SIGNEZ    http://petition.eurolinux.org/    SIGN
>
>Bernard.Lang@inria.fr             ,_  /\o    \o/    Tel  +33 1 3963 5644
>http://pauillac.inria.fr/~lang/  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^  Fax  +33 1 3963 5469
>             INRIA / B.P. 105 / 78153 Le Chesnay CEDEX / France
>          Je n'exprime que mon opinion - I express only my opinion
>                  CAGED BEHIND WINDOWS or FREE WITH LINUX


______________________________________________________________________
Adam C. Engst, XNSORG President                  XNS Name: =Adam Engst
                Email: <ace@xns.org>         Web: <http://www.xns.org/>