[fosscom] 4th July meeting

prabir prabirp at gmail.com
Thu Jul 2 01:42:03 PDT 2009


Dear All,
First, pure logistics. The 4th July (Saturday) meeting is in the Committee
Room of School of Social Studies (SSS) in JNU. The meeting starts at 10.30
AM (not 10.00 AM) and will go on till 4.00 PM. Lunch will be served in the
meeting.
Agenda:
We can start with the draft agenda as follows and finalise this in the
meeting itself.

1. Reporting on the Bangalore FOSSCOM 1st Meeting and follow up

2. Free or Open Source software education

3. Open formats and open standards

4. Legal issues

5. Building political consensus around FOSS

6. Any other matter

Some issues

I am putting down some issues which do not need to be resolved but do need
to be understood. Various people are in the FOSS "movement" for differnt
prespectives. We hav what Parminder stated -- the fight for equity and
social justice, which sees FOSS as a component in the struggle. Some others
are in the FOSS movement for freedom -- Sasi's position. It is important to
flag that both sections are against monopoly and control over
software/tools. etc., but from different positions.
Kenneth has talked about FOSS being founded on a Common Minimum Program. I
think we should at the moment keep our discussions broad and actions based
on a Minimum agreement. This is to allow sections who have interests in
which a minimum agreement has yet not been reached to at least be discussed.
The reason is that DRM, patents, competition laws are connected to FOSS in
different ways, but we may not have a minimum consensus on them. And all
people fighting on such issues are not fighting for their personal agenda,
but what they think are larger FOSS goals.
The Gnu/Linux community has stood against software patents because this is
one way of enclosing "the commons" and put it as private property of some
companies. If such interpreations are accpeted in Indian law -- software
patents are at the moment contested in Indian law -- it will affect the FOSS
community. Incidentally, when the software patent laws were proposed to be
made uniform in the EU, the major battle against this was launched by the
Linux Users Groups in EU, essentially arguing against software patents.

If we want the software tools and platforms to be Free and Open, DRM,
patents and other froms of restriction have to be addressed -- if not today,
then tomorrow. Even if we do not bring it in to the CMP right now -- if some
people are not convinced -- I do not think it should be kept  out of all our
discussions. CMP should not set the limit of discussions but only of united
action.

By the way, legal issues are not only patents, but also RTI and how to use
it, the Competition Commission, etc.

Incidentally, companies such s IBM and Sun (and even Red Hat) files software
patents today. They claim they do so for defensive reasons. No, the issue is
not Microsoft bashing as Kenneth stated, because we dislike Microsoft; it is
what they and many other companies do that we should take up (or bash). How
we relate to various companies who have different strategies themselves is
defintely a part of CMP. But our persepectives and thinking cannot be
bounded by a Common Mimimum understanding! Freedom is also very much a
freedom to discuss differing views!
Best,
Prabir Purkayastha



On 02/07/2009, V. Sasi Kumar <sasi.fsf at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> On Wed, 2009-07-01 at 21:57 -0700, parminder at itforchange.net wrote:
>
> > As we discuss the issue of wider adoption of FOSS and its integration
> into
> > policy frameworks, which I understand will dominate the meeting, I think
> > we need to also deliberate upon our linkages to broader movements for
> > social justice and equity. That is where our commitment to FOSS comes
> > from.
>
> I agree that FOSS does contribute to reducing the 'digital divide'. But
> I am not sure FOSS can bring about social justice and equity, especially
> in a country where the majority has no access to a computer. On the
> other hand, the use of FOSS by the government helps to reduce
> expenditure and frees that money for other purposes. Moreover, the money
> spent remains in the country. On the other hand, a ten percent increase
> in the efficiency in implementing government programmes and programmes
> focussed on social justice could, possibly, bring about greater
> improvement in social justice and equity.
>
> I am not sure that the commitment to FOSS comes from a sense of social
> justice and equity. I think freedom, per se, is a value worth fighting
> for. In fact, if it is just a question of access to software, the
> companies, or even the government itself, could solve the problem by
> distributing free copies of software for those who cannot afford to buy
> licensed copies.
>
> > I do feel that while there is a strong movement for FOSS, and that may be
> > largely driven by the desire of techies to have freedom of and vis-a-vis
> > their tools, there is not enough recognition of many new forms of
> > 'closeness' of technology model which could be as or even more dangerous.
>
> I don't think the freedom is only for techies or for their tools. Every
> user enjoys the freedom.
>
> Best
> --
> V. Sasi Kumar
> Free Software Foundation of India
> Please visit http://swatantryam.blogspot.com
>
> _______________________________________________
> Network mailing list
> Network at lists.fosscom.in
> http://lists.fosscom.in/listinfo.cgi/network-fosscom.in
>
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