Free/Libre and Open Source Software

Informal dialog on C-11 at Carleton University

On the evening of March 6, 2012 I attended an informal dialogue about bill C-11 at Oliver’s Pub, Carleton University. It was organized by School of Information Technology Associate Professor Ali Arya, who invited MPs from the C-11 legislative committee, Tamir Israel from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), and myself as guests to talk to students and faculty at Carleton. Hon. Geoff Regan, the Liberal MP on the committee, and Liberal Senator Wilfred Moore attended.

Copyright related policy discussion for 2010

(This article originally posted to CLUE's blog)

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.

New Democrats push “open source” for innovation

An NDP press release was sent out about their motion in parliament.

As part of an effort to make government departments more open and responsive to Canadians, the New Democrats have introduced a Parliamentary Motion (M- 587) calling for support for Open Source technologies.

Charlie Angus tables motion in support of Open Source/data

From the notices of motions for Tuesday, October 19, 2010:

M-587 — October 18, 2010 — Mr. Angus (Timmins—James Bay) — That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) support open source information and communications technologies (ICTs) in all its tendering processes and throughout the departments of the federal civil service; (b) make available funding in the form of grants for targeted pilot projects involving Canadian companies with an open source mandate; (c) allow Canadian software developers to bid on government ICT contracts; (d) encourage citizen engagement with government through open access to government information and, wherever possible, government services, while respecting privacy and national security concerns; (e) streamline government data and service delivery, and modernize the way in which the government and Canadian citizens interact; and (f) develop strategies to encourage the growth of local businesses and enhance Canadian productivity and competitiveness in the global knowledge-based economy.

The Defenders of Free Software

One of the many reasons I adopted FLOSS based business models when I formed my company is the knowledge that I would have a large community of support behind me. I wouldn't have the problem that some copyright holders have of the costs of enforcement being greater than the monitory reward of that enforcement.

A New York Times article by Ashlee Vance documents some of that community support. This article focuses on Armijn Hemel who in his free time discusses license violations perpetrated by some of the largest corporations in an attempt to help get compliance. This allows for these fairly easy to understand licenses to receive compliance, even without having to get the copyright holders or any lawyers involved.

The BSA needs a time machine, not copyright reform

The BSA (Business Software Alliance, or Bad Statistics Alliance, depending on who you talk to) have released yet another one of their comical studies. I have been very critical of these studies (See: Lies, Damned lies, and IIPA/BSA/etc statistics). What I recommend people do is skip to the methodology section and see what they are measuring, and decide for themselves whether what they are measuring is harmful or beneficial for the Canadian economy.

Brian Jackson wrote an article that quotes Michael Geist indicating the study was "shockingly misleading". I will go further and suggest that what the BSA is really asking for is a time machine, not copyright reform.

Read full article on IT World Canada >>

ZeroPaid Interviews Russell McOrmond 2 – Canadian Bill C-32

Drew Wilson of ZeroPaid has posted a 3 part interview (Part 1,Part 2,Part 3)with me discussing Copyright and Bill C-32.

My impressions of the DyscultureD Canadian audio blog

I am a big fan of audio blogs. Some people call them Podcasts because Apple iPod users seem to claim responsibility for making them popular. Leo Laporte over at, a large audio/video blogging network with a long history in broadcasting, tried to convince people to call them Netcasts as they were simply broadcasting over the Internet. While I'm a listener to a few shows, and a few other non-Canadian shows, I have always been looking for Canadian shows that cover some of the technology and political stories from the uniquely Canadian perspective.

Quebec broke law in buying Microsoft software

A CBC article by Peter Nowak includes:

Quebec's government broke the law by buying software from Microsoft without considering offers from other vendors, the province's Superior Court has ruled.

IIPA would rather people "pirate" than switch to legal competitors

The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) tipped their hand a bit in this years submission to the “Special 301" report process. While they again attacked Canada for having strong copyright law that is different than the USA, the most telling was their opposition to policies encouraging legally free of charge Open Source in their submissions for Brazil, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Encouraging legally free software is by far the best policy instrument to reduce software copyright infringement for the less financially rich countries and individuals of the world. For the vast majority of the worlds population the only viable options are to infringe royalty-based software or switch to royalty-free alternatives. The fact the IIPA is encouraging countries to have policies which increase infringement rather than have people switch to competing software is telling about their actual goals.

This is consistent with what past Microsoft business group president Jeff Raikes previously stated, "If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else".

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