Ideas & Commentary

Whose Software Freedom? A 20-year perspective.

According to Google's archive of gnu.misc.discuss, 1992 was the year I became active in the Free Software movement. While the earliest posting I can find appears to be a naive copyright question about the public domain, other messages from the first few months of 1992 suggest I was already engaged in some of the discussions. With the new year approaching, I wanted to offer some thoughts on one of the conversations that has been constant the last 20 years. I then invite you to offer your own thoughts in CLUE's discuss@ mailing list.

Why Heritage Minister James Moore is wrong on Bill C-11 "technological protection measures" (TPMs)

I received a reply from Heritage Minister James Moore dated December 2, 2011. I'm not certain which letter it was in reply to, but it could have been my Who is the Candice Hoeppner for information technology owners? letter I sent to all Conservative MP's back in May/June.

While I am posting the full text of his reply, I wanted to offer a quick response explaining why I think he is wrong on the impacts of the "technological protection measures" aspects of Bill C-11. (See: earlier article for a description of real-world technologies being discussed)

Open source champion supports Microsoft in i4i patent challenge

Nestor E. Arellano included an interview with me as policy coordinator for CLUE in his coverage of the patent case between Toronto's i4i and Microsoft.

“It would be very easy for me to wave the open source banner and yell ‘down with Microsoft’ or wrap myself in the Canadian flag and cheer 'yeah for i4i.' But it’s far better to support what’s right than be concerned with who or the brands that are involved,”

Copyright related policy discussion for 2010

For New Years eve I thought I would be useful to visit our Copyright-related Policy summary in the context of events in 2010. After a summary I will offer some suggestions of what people should do in the coming year to protect our rights and interests.

The Conservative government tabled a copyright Bill C-32 on June 2 which was debated and then passed at second reading on November 5'th. It was sent to a special legislative committee that held 8 meetings before parliament was adjourned until Monday, January 31, 2011. Being passed at second reading doesn't make it law, and there are many more stages for this bill to follow.

Should the iPad be illegal?

I would like to clarify quotes in two recent CBC articles by Peter Nowak: Copyright bill may spark battle over who owns what and Apple iPad hits Canada amid controversy.

In each it is suggested that I believe that the iPad should be illegal. What I said should be illegal is the application of non-owner locks to technology. I am not concerned with Apples technology, only radical changes to the law that legalize and/or legally protect a form of theft.

How to avoid the benefits of Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS)

FLOSS offers many benefits over software that has a sole proprietor and is funded by royalties. Examples of sole proprietor software are packages such as Microsoft Office where there is a single entity which either owns or is relicensing the exclusive rights on the software, and thus is the sole entity which can provide many levels of software support.

While I recommend against this, it is possible to use FLOSS and yet receive none of the benefits beyond lower ($0) royalty payments. Government departments seem to do this all the time, not wanting to accept the advantages of FLOSS (misinterpreting software acquisition policy? Ideologically predisposed to sole proprietor software? Offer your thoughts in the comments...).

The two most common ways to avoid the benefits of FLOSS can be summarized by two acronyms: COTS and DIY.

>> Read full article on IT World Canada's blog

An open door for open source?

CBC news reporter Emily Chung interviewed a number of people in the community on the Canadian Government RFI on what they called "No Charge Licensed Software (NCLS)".

Free Software and the Canadian Federal Election 2008

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a donor supported charity founded in 1985 and based in Boston, MA, USA. The FSF has a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom and to defend the rights of all free software users. They have sister organizations in Europe, India and Latin America.

Since any inclusion of legal protection for "technological measures" in the law regulates what software citizens are allowed to run on their own computer, they have an interest in this issue. Canadians who are part of the Free Software Community really need to get involved in this election to ensure that the rights of Canadian Free Software users are protected. Richard Stallman, founder and president of the FSF, requested that I write this article to give our community some ideas of what to do.

Read the rest of this entry on IT World Canada's blog »

FACIL launches lawsuit against Quebec government to close loophole

FACIL sent out press release (english press release, which includes a link to a translation of their court filing) that documents their launching of a case in Quebec Superior Court. The case is intended to end a loophole being used by the Quebec provincial government to award contracts to proprietary software suppliers without an adequate evaluation of all the options, including Free/Libre and Open Source Software options.

I was interviewed by Peter Nowak for CBC News last evening about the case. Even though I hadn't read the documents from FACIL yet, guessed which loophole they were trying to close.

Read full article on IT World Canada »