OSI is changing, and you can help! I spoke at FOSDEM in Brussels on Saturday, on behalf of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) where I serve as a director. My noon keynote covered a little of the rationale behind OSI and a quick synopsis of its last decade from my own perspective and then announcements on OSI's behalf about the work we’re doing to make OSI strong and relevant for a new decade.
The Open Source Initiative Board joined many other civil society organizations as co-signatories of an open letter expressing concern about SOPA and PIPA.
Last week saw a quiet landmark in the history of the open source movement with the formal release of version two of the Mozilla Public License (MPLv2) and its approval as an official open source license. While to many it may look like just another legal detail, it is significant both for the way it was conducted and for the intent with which it has been created. This is a license aimed at unity.
In a special board meeting convened for board elections on March 16 2011, the OSI board elected three new illustrious members of the open source community - Jim Jagielski, Karl Fogel and Mike Godwin. As Simon Phipps posted in his Board Meeting report, the OSI board voted to expand the board from 10 to 11 members to enable all three members to join. Two board members were re-elected to serve a second term - Mr. Harshad Gune and Dr. Martin Michlmayr. For more details, see here.
Towards the end of March, we received a message from the German Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office or FCO) advising us that the CPTN transaction had been re-notified to them. That means that the consortium seeking to acquire Novell's patent portfolio - Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle - had once again asked for permission to proceed.
Notably, the terms of the transaction seem to have been significantly changed, apparently in response to concerns like the ones OSI expressed at the start of the year. OSI is very pleased that the FCO has been clear about the transaction with CPTN and congratulates them on continuing to consider the overall health of the evolving software market and not just the concerns of the existing dominant players.
Here is a non-expert summary of the differences (summarised with permission from the FCO):
The FCO went on to ask OSI for its views on the revised transaction. The OSI Board responded to their questionnaire as follows:
According to filings made by Novell
[On] February 2, 2011, each of [CPTN Holdings] and Novell received a Second Request from the DOJ regarding the sale of certain identified patents and patent applications to CPTN contemplated by the Patent Purchase Agreement. The Second Requests have the effect of extending the waiting period under the HSR Act until 30 days after both parties have substantially complied with the Second Requests, unless the waiting period is earlier terminated. Novell is in the process of gathering information to respond to this Second Request and is continuing to cooperate fully with the DOJ in connection with its review.
The Open Source Initiative commends the US Department of Justice for taking this important step to promote innovation by issuing a second request and deepening the investigation of CPTN's acquisition of Novell's patents. As we have stated, the history is clear: patents have been—and are likely to be—used by CPTN and its members to create fear, uncertainty and doubt concerning open source software, raise competitors costs and threaten customers. We trust and hope that following a thorough investigation, the DoJ will impose whatever measures are necessary to ensure that CPTN does not harm the commercial open source development model or market competition.
January 19, 2011 (update 2) - The Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice has acknowledged receipt of the following correspondence (with attachment):
I am writing to you this morning in my capacity as President of the Open Source Initiative, a US 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Last month the OSI filed a statement with the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) outlining our deep concerns about a proposed transaction whereby four companies, Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, and EMC, would create a new non-practicing entity (NPE) to acquire and hold Novell's entire portfolio of 882 patents. Since making that filing, we have been joined by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and have updated that statement to represent that both our communities--the open source community and the free software community--are concerned that CPTN represents a potential broadside not against any particular product in the market today, but against one of the only viable sources of competition for these companies in software today: the free, libre, and open source software (FLOSS) communities.
Attached is our joint statement that reflects both our consensus thinking on the subject and our joint appeal that DOJ investigate the true purpose of CPTN.
If there is any other information you require from myself, any OSI board member, or the OSI as a whole, please do not hesitate to let us know. Thank you very much for your consideration.
President, Open Source Initiative
Earlier this month, the OSI board held elections for the organization's committees. Board members interested in working on OSI initiatives such as membership, education, policy and economic development, outreach submitted their candidacy to the board. Based on the slate of candidates, the board voted the following chairpersons to lead each OSI initiative for the next year.
Open Source Software has come a long way in the last decade. It has gone from being bleeding edge to becoming mainstream. Every aspect of computing, from the operating system to web applications, has examples of open source software.
As the open source ecosystem grows, the need for talented developers, collaborators and open source experts has burgeoned. Increasingly, Universities want to incorporate the teaching of open source technologies, techniques and business models into their curricula to meet this growth.