CLUE expands its mandate

At a meeting of its Board of Directors on January 18, CLUE voted to update its mandate:

The Vision of CLUE is to nurture a Canadian Information Technology environment which promotes collaborative innovation as well as open standards and the rights of consumers.

The Mission of CLUE is to promote the use and development of free, open source software, by providing a public voice to the community of its Canadian users, developers and supporters. CLUE will enhance this community's ability to share resources, define standards, and promote its values within Canadian society.

The Goals of CLUE, in the support of its vision and mission, are to:

  • Create a membership organization that represents individual, organizational and corporate members of the free and open source software community;

  • Advance the interests of the community in the development of public policy at the national, provincial and local levels;

  • Support programs and activities which encourage greater understanding and appreciation of the community's values within the general public as well as the private and public sectors;

  • Enhance communications and resource-sharing within the community;

  • Encourage and foster the development of high-quality IT standards which are open and widely implemented;

  • Work with similar organizations in other countries to advance the community's interests in international policy regarding standards, organizations (such as WIPO) and multi-lateral agreements (such as FTAA).

BACKGROUND:

The existence of a vibrant and active community has been critical to the worldwide growth in the use of open source software such as Linux, Apache, Firefox, and Jboss. The acceptance of open source distribution and develoment models into the IT mainstream has been the result of hard work by a combination of grassroots volunteers and commercial support organizations. Most of the technical obstacles to using open source have been eliminated, as people and organizations within the public and private sectors have discovered its many advantages.

Canada is home to many open source software projects, as well as a thriving community of users, academics, developers and vendors. The country has the potential to develop open source based IT into a truely homegrown infrastructure which encourages innovation, creates jobs, and offers export opportunities to serve the world's growing demand for open source expertise.

However, this leadership situation is under serious threat, as opposition to open source methods and philosophies shifts its focus from the technical arena into corporate and public policy.

Certain vested interests, threatened by the growth of collaboration and the rights of technology consumers, have started to show their intent. The entertainment industry, proprietary software vendors and others have concentrated lobbying and campaign funding on specific political targets. The current Canadian copyright system is under attack by lobbyists and pressure groups. The current debate regarding open standards for data exchange in Massachusetts, which has led to personal attacks on technical staff, could result in a lack of courage when addressing the issue in Canada.

CLUE will provide a voice for the open source community, within policy-making groups in both the public and private sector. It will advance the benefits of collaboration and work against the attempted re-definition of issues in terms such as "property" and "piracy". CLUE will also further enable the community to communicate and work within itself in order to support its own growth and develop its voice.

STRUCTURE:

CLUE is a federally-incorporated non-profit which has been in existence since 1998. Created to assist local user groups to form and grow, CLUE has been effective in that limited mandate but now needs to better reflect the needs of the community as it becomes a part of the social mainstream.

CLUE has committed to evolve its structure to truly represent the needs of the community -- volunteer and commercial, French and English, coast to coast. We have already started to evolve CLUE into a democratic, responsible organization that can properly address the community's internal and external needs.

EXECUTION:

In order to fulfill expectations, CLUE is assembling an experienced team of professionals with experience at organization, political action and business management. In partnership with the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic and other groups, CLUE will monitor and analyse relevant public policy to ensure that the community is vigilant and able to respond to circumstances.

CLUE already has experience and success at development and delivery of innovative programs that served both the public and community. CLUE co-ordinated the activities of a dozen Linux user groups to stage the world's first National Linux Installfest, held September 26, 1998. We also supported creation of the Canadian Linux Centre in 1999.

Amongst the programs which CLUE intends to deliver in 2006 are:

  • A paid-media campaign designed to build awareness and support

  • Co-development of relevant public policy analysis at all levels of government

  • A National Open Source Week event during which local user groups will hold information seminars across the country

  • An extensive press campaign to support the paid advertising, including provision of support for local grassroots organizations in dealing with local media

  • Participation in any relevant government hearings

  • Sponsorship of (and participation in) the LinuxWorld tradeshow in Toronto as well as the "Linux on Tour" program in Montréal, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver

  • Supporting and participating in related standards efforts such as the Linux Standard Base and the Linux subgroups of the ISO

  • A full web portal designed to bring together relevant political and media resources, as well as to improve internal community communications and co-operation.