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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Consultation on IPRED

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Consultation on IPRED
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 19:09:28 +0100

On Wed, 2005-07-20 at 18:19 +0100, Philip Hunt wrote:
> > I can't see anything which specifically affects free software authors
> > (although presumption of authorship is a bit of a double-edged sword),
> Is it? Why?

Easier to enforce your software licence where ownership is disputed;
easier to have someone take you to court even if they don't have
standing. It's not either pro- or anti- free software authors; but at a
guess I would say it's probably to our benefit on balance (but am not
sure it makes much difference either way).

> > Is there anything worth saying about this? (I can't see anything).
> Is there a good *short* summary of this anywhere? (I'm assuming it's
> a generalised piece of legislation giving more powers to copyright 
> holders). 

It's not even that, to be honest - it's supposedly a harmonisation of
best practice; the amount of new legislation is actually pretty small
and aimed purely at changing the standard of authorship required to
bring a copyright action (it's all in Annex D). Annex B goes into detail
- it splits down the directive, and each article is compared against
current law. So, for example, no action is required over articles 1&2,
but article 5 does require action (the previous change of authorship

No, there is no good summary. The changes also vary depending on the
country you're in - for example, the Scots get some different goodies
(you would look in Annex C, not Annex B, for the comparisons between
current law and the directive). The summary is basically "easier to take
people to court, easier to get more money out of them" - makes the IP
laws in general ever-so-slightly-more draconian than they already were
(luckily, in the UK, we were already pretty draconian, so our laws
didn't need much alteration to meet the directive - funny how EU
directives/proposals are quite close to UK law, isn't it?)

> Why can't we get laws passed that move things in our direction?

Well, basically because there isn't enough interest in them. I think
trying to push this point is the next stage for AFFS, FFII-UK and
similar parties though: it is about time that we did lobby for things in
our interest. In terms of AFFS, I think an obvious next step would be to
attempt to get the "Open Source Policy" reviewed properly, along the
lines of our response to the ODPM (for example, have a definition which
includes BSD-licenced software as free software).

This isn't something any of the aforementioned or other organisations
can do on their own, though - in particular, it requires the support of
business. We have friends in that area - the Open Source Consortium, for
example - who in particular would be interested in making Govt. policy
more free software-friendly, although obviously they are not campaigning
people. It's about time we worked together with these various other
friendly groups anyway.



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