Monday, April 12, 2010

European Legal Network (ELN) Workshop Amsterdam Day-2

Once again another interesting and informative day at the ELN Workshop in Amsterdam.

The topics of discussion in the final day were compliance, risk, patents and industry development. Different organizations made presentations in the morning regarding licensing compliance and how it pertains to the internal part of the organization, as well as, through to distribution. Intra-organization compliance systems were discussed in short and the various mediums that could be used in order to insure that the vendor(s) is complaint. Most all were in agreement that it was vital for an organization to integrate a compliance policy into the supply chain. Different measures on how this compliance policy could be constructed were discussed also.

The second topic discussed was Risk and how to evaluate and contain it. A balanced discussion on risk from both the legal and business sides of things gave a realistic case view on what open source companies are facing in the current and expanding market. Members of the ELN have also created and are developing a Risk Grid to address procurement of F/OSS and it's function within the supply chain. This grid aims to assist professionals in the field to regulate their actions with their suppliers and buyers by allocating  risk to the appropriate actor within the supply chain.

A patent panel also discussed briefly about the pro's and con's of patents within the organization and argued how these patents can hinder, as well as, support innovation within an organization. The affects of patents on licensing and the various complications that arise were also discussed, but agreed that another workshop will be set aside to discuss patents in more detail.

Finally, Future developments were discussed and their impacts on the F/OSS industry. Technological innovations and shifts were discussed and weighed against the developments of the F/OSS movement in the past. We are seeing quite a shift from software as a product to more of a service driven industry with such developments as the cloud and embedded MID's. Awareness must be made now that assists professionals in evaluating legal risk in accordance to licensing and procurement, through educating professionals on the importance of compliance and how to properly implement a compliance policy within their respective organizations. Moreover, it is generally agreed that there must be more interaction with developers/engineers and management/legal counsel to work together and build a "best case" practice that incorporates the developer/engineers issues and needs together with the organizations compliance. The most sound method of accomplishing this is through working together to reach our common goal with special emphasis on proper education and documentation.

I would like to thank the Free Software Foundation Europe and everyone who attended the ELN workshop and especially thank them for allowing me to participate in this closed discussion. It definitely opened  my eyes to topics in which I have only scratched the surface on. The complexities of the topics discussed were just another confirmation that we need to work even harder together to meet the ever growing issues faced by all levels of the F/OSS movement. I look forward to working together with you at the ELN and sharing the knowledge and contributions from the unique position I hold between industry and community.

Friday, April 9, 2010

European Legal Network (ELN) Workshop Amsterdam Day-1

I was invited by the FSF Europe to take part in the ELN Workshop in Amsterdam for a discussion between industry professionals, lawyers and engineers with how licensing impacts their respective organizations. The workshop presentations consisted of highly recognized F/OSS industry professionals from Europe and the US. The first day of the event was well organized and quite refreshing since there were many open minded discussions that are leading up to implementation and management of governance in F/OSS projects, as well as, working towards a collaborative grid/matrix for developers/engineers to use when choosing a license to release their code under with a view to compliance.

Moreover, it was nice to hear presentations of up to date casework of GPL violations, casework from professionals about industry adoption of F/OSS and how the OSS industry is gathering momentum and legitimacy at lightning speeds ;-) Also, it was nice to hear the current information about the recent legal developments on a country by country level in Europe and also the recent development at the EU parliament level. Thank you especially to the small, but hard working group of lobbyists that attended!!

The organizers and presenters did a great job of keeping theoretical concepts to a minimal and successfully explained their issues and topics in layman terms. I thank you all for your openness and collaboration and must say I have never experienced an event quite like this with legal council and industry professionals that was so open, free flowing and transparent without having the feeling or worry of those luring second agendas.

I look very much forward to continuing our discussion and developments on Day 2.