Subject: Re: Wall Street article on a new Cooperative
From: L Jean Camp <jean_camp@harvard.edu>
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 2004 12:36:13 -0400


On Friday, April 23, 2004, at 08:33 AM, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:

>>>>>> "L" == L Jean Camp writes:
>
>     L> As for the actual topic,
>
> As usual, I'm left wishing you spent as much effort on the genuine
> content as you do on your bile secretions.  :-(  All I could get from
> this:

Learning  to tolerate fools  more graciously is a goal of mine.
However, I am and will remain an unapologetic abolitionist who find no 
humor in slavery or its defense. http://www.iabolish.com/

>
>     L> I believe the reason the companies are
>     L> a cooperative is to provide joint intellectual property
>     L> protection. I believe they also created a patent pool.  The
>     L> only people safely capable of developing a cooperative and
>     L> giving away the software are those with very heavy patent
>     L> portfolios (e.g., IBM), those certain of code purity, and
>     L> government.
>
> was that for some reason you think state/local government is a target
> of opportunity for FLOSS.

Was that a sentence?

Anyway - costs, immunity, specialization, and transparency - we have 
spoken quite a bit about the value of transparent encoded processes - 
are the reasons. Transparency is particularly valuable in the public 
sector.

>
>     L> Government is immune from IPR claims in the US.
> By which you mean what?  Last I heard US governments still paid for
> their software, and their employees were forbidden to take copies
> home.  It's pretty hard to sue the U.S. government, but AFAIK
> copyright is federal law, which means that state and local governments
> have no wiggle room to create exemptions.

It is related to tort immunity. For example, if SCO won its case it 
could not then sue government to pay for Linux use.

Of course, states and local governments must abide by contractual 
claims and requirements. Governments cannot sign contracts to software 
providers and then ignore the provisions of otherwise enforceable 
contracts. However, if they use code in good faith that would subject 
private businesses to tort claims then there is no strict liability.

>
>     L> So expect leadership at the state and local level.
>
> You have any concrete suggestions as to what that might look like?

It will look somewhat like Avalanche.  Already there is code sharing at 
the state level - the North Carolina Secretary of State system is the 
one most often mentioned at state and local level.  Prison management 
code and drivers license exam code is shared between governments.  
Cities and towns are particularly motived - there are 3,142 counties in 
the US. There are more cities and towns.  These have very similar 
functions.

Governments are more motivated because the revenue streams  necessary 
to bring basic services are under constant relentless attacks. 
Governments are also looking at a massive wave of retirements, and a 
need to make processes run with far fewer people.  Pay once -run 
anywhere is a necessary element of government management in these times 
of "shrink the beast" policies. Local governments cannot merge like 
multiple small businesses implementing the same function.

> True, there's something to your fuzzy talk about immunity, I would
> think that the governments are less exposed to SCO-style IP sharking.
> But translating that to "leadership" from state/local government seems
> unlikely, at least the ones I was familiar with.
>
But you are familiar with Japanese local government.

State and local governments are more motivated, immune to the legal 
risks, and have specific needs not addressed by most COS software. 
State leadership  is also observably happening.

-Jean