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WIPO Pressured to Kill Meeting on Open Source 323

Posted by michael
from the thou-shalt-not-speak-its-name dept.
panthan writes "The Washington Post has has an article about a proposed meeting of the WIPO concerning open source having been removed from consideration, apparently due to pressure from the US State Department and the USPTO. 'In short order, lobbyists from Microsoft-funded trade groups were pushing officials at the State Department and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to squelch the meeting. One lobbyist, Emery Simon with the Business Software Alliance, said his group objected to the suggestion in the proposal that overly broad or restrictive intellectual-property rights might in some cases stunt technological innovation and economic growth.'" Lawrence Lessig has some comments.
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WIPO Pressured to Kill Meeting on Open Source

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  • email her (Score:5, Informative)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:34PM (#6769834) Homepage
    Lois Boland lois.boland@uspto.gov

    from an old link [uspto.gov].

  • Re:So.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by metatruk (315048) on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:44PM (#6769900)
    Actually, we do have an open source DVD player for Linux. At least three of them in fact:
    xine [xinehq.de]
    mplayer [mplayerhq.hu]
    VideoLAN client [videolan.org]

    The only thing that's illegal is the CSS decryption libraries needed to play most (but not all) CSS "protected" DVDs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:44PM (#6770194)
    Well, if you want to, ahem, "contact" Emery Simon, his business address is the same as the BSA's, namely:
    1150 18th Street NW

    Washington, DC 20036
    His email address is emerys@bsa.org [mailto]. Google [google.com] lists one Emery Simon living in Bethesda, MD. Anyone know who this is?
  • Thaks, I did. (Score:3, Informative)

    by twitter (104583) on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:51PM (#6770216) Homepage Journal
    I asked her the majority of the questions in this post [slashdot.org]. Most importantly, I asked if she really meant what she said. It's just too incredible, but then so are the USA, Patriot DMC and No Net Theft acts.

  • Re:email her (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nucleon500 (628631) <tcfelker@example.com> on Friday August 22, 2003 @09:04PM (#6770275) Homepage
    Couldn't agree more. Remember, Slashdotters, the squeakiest wheel gets the oil. Consider this public domain, but please at least paraphrase:

    Hello,

    Recently WIPO was considering a meeting to discuss the place of open source in the intellectual property landscape, but it has since decided to let the issue go unresolved. I have read that one factor in this decision was the USPTO's belief that open source runs counter to WIPO's goals. I am deeply disappointed by this.

    You were quoted as saying, "To hold a meeting which has as its purpose to disclaim or waive such rights seems to us to be contrary to the goals of WIPO." But on its website, WIPO claims it is "dedicated to helping to ensure that the rights of creators and owners of intellectual property are protected worldwide and that inventors and authors are, thus, recognized and rewarded for their ingenuity." Open source developers are indeed creators and owners of IP, and they too deserve protection.

    Open source developers do not want to waive or disclaim the IP rights of others, and they often depend on strong IP laws to ensure their creations are not misused. In the software industry, there are many important questions that must be answered. I would like to see a more concrete definition of what constitutes a derivative work. I want it to be easier for individuals to defend against unfair patent claims, so they aren't forced to give up their software in a premature settlement. I think it should be easier for individual academic developers to get patents and be recognized for their innovations. These goals do not disclaim anybody's rights.

    Again from their website, "Among WIPO's key goals is the inclusion of all interested parties in dialogue." The open source and academic communities are very interested in IP, and they should not be excluded from discussion concerning laws that affect them so greatly. Please don't ignore us before you've heard what we have to say.

    Thank you for your time,

  • by stwrtpj (518864) <p DOT stewart AT comcast DOT net> on Friday August 22, 2003 @11:06PM (#6770750) Journal

    I'm going to nitpick here, and I apologize for having to use your post to do it, but people, before you write your senator, know how to do it right. Do it right, and you'll sound intelligent and erudite. Do it wrong, and you'll sound like a crackpot.

    So I'm going to take this post as an example and show you what I believe makes a good letter. First off, this part is right out:

    The BSA, in case you didn't know, is essentially just a division of Microsoft.

    Baseless allegation. Makes it sound like you have an axe to grind specifically against Microsoft. Stick to the facts.

    The full Washington Post article is here: ...

    Very good. Back up your facts with documentation. Most likely than not this task of tracking down info will be handed to an intern, so make sure your references are very clear. Use direct sources (like this one did) and avoid google caches.

    Just so you don't think open source is some kind of "hippy thing", I work for the largest private equity firm in the world that is focused exclusively on information technology ...

    Another good one. Cite personal experience. Better if you could name the company (you can always include a disclaimer that these views are your own and not your company). You may get lucky and work for a company that contributed to his campaign. However, lose the "hippy thing" phrase. Makes it look like you're assuming what the senator thinks already. May want to leave out "the largest" and substitute "a prominent". Being the "the largest" may be a matter of opinion.

    Companies like IBM and Apple have wholeheartedly embraced open source. The only companies opposed to open source are those that currently enjoy relative monopolies in their areas. I.e., Microsoft.

    Might be a good place to include some references to press releases or interviews that back this up. Makes it look like you seriously did your research.

    By the way, if you don't know much about the BSA and open source, here is an article that describes the BSA's strong arm tactics used in bullying small businesses:

    Excellent. You back up an otherwise harsh allegation with documented fact.

    Now, I did not take the time to follow all the links, but you want to make sure they come from reliable sources. Major news and media outlets like the Washington Post or the NY Times are better than "niche" groups like Linux Journal. CNET is kind of in between. And, yes, I know perfectly well that these sources may vary for differing definitions of "reliable". We know the media puts their own spin on it. But remember that politicians rely on the media for much of their information, so you have to use that to your advantage.

    Sorry to sound pedantic in all this, but many of us know we are intelligent, but we need to convince the politicians of that as well. If anyone else has any other suggestions on good letter-writing, feel free to add.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

    by Col. Klink (retired) (11632) on Friday August 22, 2003 @11:50PM (#6770951)
    I work in the Federal Government. We use lots of Free and Open Source Software. Sometimes because it's better, sometimes because it's free (sometimes for both reasons).

    If I need to do something, it is far easier to grab a free implementation than to go through channels to get budgeted and all the hassle that goes along with that.

    We use lots of proprietary software too, often because it's the only thing that does the trick. Sometimes because we started using it before a free alternative was viable. I am migrating my Splus applications to R (mostly for technical reasons). We use MS Office because everyone else does.

    I have Linux on my desktop.
  • Re:IP (Score:3, Informative)

    by GigsVT (208848) on Saturday August 23, 2003 @02:37AM (#6771486) Journal
    Yeah, Dean did Lessig's blog, big deal.

    Before you run to vote for him, you should know his positions, most of which are not compatible with liberty.

    Dean fully supports [issues2000.org] the failed War on Drugs.

    Dean wants "More federal funding for all aspects of Drug War".

    Dean supports a socialist command economy for medical services [issues2000.org].

    Dean even calls [issues2000.org] Bush Jr. "isolationist" in regard to his foreign policy! If Bush Jr. is an isolationist, I don't want to find out what Dean thinks is going to far in interfering with other countries soverignty. Dean says "we intend to enforce our view of the world", in regard to trade policies.

    He also supports [issues2000.org] requiring sales tax collection for all sales on the Internet. He opposes all measures to reduce the size or power of the federal government through cutting taxes. He asserts that most people want to pay more taxes, because we all just love big brother that much.

    Yeah, Dean might have good views on gun control, abortion, and some technology issues, but in the end, he is not really concerned with liberty, in any meaningful sense.
  • Re:Interesting (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2003 @04:44PM (#6774368)
    Buy a couple of extremely expensive network printers, a plotter printer, and 21" flat screen monitors for all! (It's what my department did...)

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