Open Source

Waugh Partners have released the Australian Open Source Industry and Community Report, 2008. It’s both beautiful, and interesting – and doesn’t support all the myths we generally have about the open source community. Congrats, Jeff & Pia.

Go read it!

At in January, one of the great keynotes was a talk by Stormy Peters titled ‘Would you do it again for free’. Issue: if you’re working on an open source project, and then a company hires you to work on the project, so you’re paid, then the company or the pay goes away, would you go back to working on the project? Interesting issue about incentives and the impact of money on gift economies/altruism (you can watch the video here).

Stormy has a new post at the OpenLogic blog, with the results of a mini-survey on the overlap between OS professional and hobby lives. Interesting!

At least according to Richard Sennett, in his book The Craftsman: according to Sennett, craftsmanship has not vanished from our world: it has migrated to other regions of human enterprise, so that the delicate form of skilled cooperation that once produced a cathedral now produces the Linux software system. Linux, for Sennett, is the work of a community of craftsmen “who embody some of the elements first celebrated in the (Homeric) Hymn to Hephaestus”. There. See? The Cathedral and the Bazaar.

You will find, after a period of seriously heavy blogging recently owing to the Australian Copyright Amendment Bill, this blog will be a lot less active in the next while.

I’m in Melbourne, but preparing for a permanent move to the University of Queensland, site of the excellent ACIPA research centre on IP in January, and in any event, the urgency has gone out of the whole blogging thing now that the Bill is more or less done and dusted. We are all a bit copyrighted and commented and submissioned and discussioned out.

But there’s a couple of interesting things going on: one in open access in Australia, one in copyright in Germany. More over the fold… (more…)

The New Yorker has published another interesting article on the old media-new media debate. The last such article that I posted on looked at Wikipedia versus traditional encyclopedias and research; this article (published in the 7 August print edition) is on traditional versus Internet journalism (also known as “citizen” journalism).

Although the whole article is worth a read, Lemann’s parting thought is pretty interesting on its own:

Journalism is not in a period of maximal self-confidence right now, and the Internet’s cheerleaders are practically laboratory specimens of maximal self-confidence. They have got the rhetorical upper hand; traditional journalists answering their challenges often sound either clueless or cowed and apologetic. As of now, though, there is not much relation between claims for the possibilities inherent in journalist-free journalism and what the people engaged in that pursuit are actually producing. As journalism moves to the Internet, the main project ought to be moving reporters there, not stripping them away.


IPRIA and the Melbourne Business School have an event coming up which would be of interest to readers of this blog: David Levine and Eric Von Hippel will be giving a seminar on Intellectual Property and Innovation: A Different Perspective. It’s all happening on 11 August. More details over the fold. (more…)

It’s time for another post on the OzDMCA – that is, the forthcoming Australian law implementing Article 17.4.7 of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement – an article based very closely on the (in)famous US law, the DMCA. I’m prompted to write by a recent Slashdot thread on this, as well as the recent Linux Australia campaign seeking to highlight the dangers of a DMCA-style law in Australia. The Linux Australia pages have a general explanation of the issues on DVDs (see here), and on some of the issues in music (see here).

I’m also prompted by the fact that it is now July, 2006, and we have not seen any exposure draft of the legislation. Given the timeline, I think we can only assume that either (a) the Department have decided to consult only with some limited set of stakeholders, or (b) that any consultation is going to be extremely brief.

Now, as I’ve said numerous times before (see my submission, 2 years ago, to the Senate Select Committee, and my submission, last year, to the LACA Inquiry) – anti-circumvention law is hard. It also has really strong potential to have nasty effects if implemented badly. And the risks of bad implementation are high, because the AUSFTA text is really problematic – it has a structure that has some ‘lamentable and inexcusable’ flaws (the quote is from LACA).

I’ve been wondering for some time whether we need to enact laws that look like the DMCA. I think there are areas where the AUSFTA text does have space to do things that are sensible.

So in this post, I’m going to outline two things Australia could do in implementing the OzDMCA, which would reduce its bad effects. (more…)


Yochai Benkler has followed a trend set by such people as Larry Lessig and Michael Geist, and made his new book, The Wealth of Networks, available under a Creative Commons License. He’s gone further than Lessig or Geist, I think, and has put the ideas in the book – which are all about commons-based and cooperative production – to the test in the real world. It will be of interest to anyone who thinks the whole concept of the Commons, Creative Commons, and ‘social production’ are interesting. Comments on this method of publication, and the book itself, over the fold. (more…)

Something I should have noted last week: the Adelphi Charter was launched in Australia, at an event organised by AEShareNet. To quote from the Charter website:

‘The Adelphi Charter was prepared by an International Commission of experts from the arts, creative industries, human rights, law, economics, science, R&D, technology, the public sector and education.
The Charter Office is based at the Royal Society of Arts in London which is concerned with innovation in the arts, sciences and industry.’

The Charter, which was formally launched worldwide in October 2005, is really a simple bunch of principles, that sound a lot like common sense – unless you’ve been in the IP debate for a while, in which case it sounds like a foreign language, so far is it from the ordinary parlance. In a way, the Charter advocates a return to simple, important principles in an area that far too often descends immediately to an unhealthy level of detail and qualification. You can see a ‘January 2006’ report here. (more…)

It looks like the SCO litigation is hotting up a little. IBM has reportedly issued subpoenas to Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Sun and BayStar Capital in relation to their dealings with SCO. (more…)

An interesting press release from IBM yesterday, reported in today’s Australian here. and in the New York Times here (there’s a story in WSJ, too, but it’s subscriber only). In essence, IBM has announced 3 ways it is working with the USPTO, Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), members of the open source software community and academia to improve patent quality. Fascinating projects that put ‘peer development’ of knowledge and tools into practice.

[update: in addition to the above sources, it’s worth dropping by Groklaw for more on these initiatives]

More over the fold. (more…)

Interesting news indeed this morning, with a consortium of IBM, Sony, Philips, Novell and Red Hat announcing the formation of a company the Open Invention Network, a company for sharing Linux-related patents, for free. (more…)

I’ve added two links to the blogroll as part of a general clean up of the Weatherall’s Law blogroll. (more…)

I’m probably behind the times on this, but I just found at Groklaw a nice short history of the net, Unix, Linux and all things related — The Daemon, the GNU and the Penguin, by Peter H. Salus. I haven’t had time to read it all yet (and it still appears to be a work in progress), but so far it’s an informative read.

You can find here, in this special edition of First Monday. Cool!

Next Page »