[Linux-aus] First Open Source Forum - a success!

Pia Smith pia at linux.org.au
Mon Nov 8 06:07:03 UTC 2004

Hi all,

Last Wednesday Linux Australia in collaboration with OSIA and Baker &
McKenzie presented the first Open Source Forum. The plan is to run these
every two months tackling challenging opportunities and issues the
Australian Open Source sector.

The first one was on Software Patents. We had around 100 people come,
and many more try to register (the venue could only really hold 80). The
participation was excellent, and many lessons were learnt for the next
one, such as more time is needed :) I'm afraid we didn't get recording
organised in time, and at any rate that wasn't discussed with the
speakers prior to them agreeing to speak. We will aim to record the
event next time. Sorry to all! All the slides will be available from the
LA website as soon as the speakers agree. I'll post when they are up.

We had a large range of attendees, from government, to large
multi-nationals, universities, developers, and of course lawyers. It was
great to se some SLUGgers there, and I hope to see more at other forums
we put on.

The speaker breakdowns are below:

* Patents and Open Source Licences
	Derek Neve and John MacPhail, Baker & McKenzie
	This talk gave an introduction to software patents from a legal
perspective. It spoke briefly about how the GPL fits in, and about the
clause in the GPL that if a patent is being challenged in court, the GPL
loosely doesn't apply anymore, ie - you can't distribute. Please note
IMNAL :) John spoke about the patents system in Australia, some of the
challenges and possible issues it presents. Both were good talks.

* How The Australian Patent System Works 
	Bob Kemp, R. E. Kemp & Co Pty Limited 
	Bob is an excellent speaker. He was kind enough to meet me for coffee
about a month ago and go through the patents system. I was astounded
with some of the things he said, and similarly were the Open Source
Forum crowd. He works as a patent searcher, and thus has a very
practical sense of the patents system in Australia, and to some degree
the US. He gave us an excellent oversight, and we are hoping to get him
to publish some of the figures he knew.
* An Industry Perspective
	Les Bell, Open Source Industry Association
	Les has a long history in the Open Source world, from long before Linux
was around. He gave some excellent insights to issues both from a
personal and from an OSIA viewpoint. He covered how it affects
businesses, particularly small Australian businesses who simply can't
play the game.

* An Industry Perspective
	Greg Keiser, Novell Australia
	Greg covered the recent Novell initiatives about Software Patents and
IP issues generally. Novell offer several programs to customers to
protect them from various IP threats, and interestingly enough, Novell
have taken their patent portfolio, accrued over 21 years, and have
pledged it to protecting Linux. Certainly worth reading up on.

* An Open Source Patent Experience
	Rproxy, Rusty Russell, Linux Australia
	Rusty was his usual charming self :) He managed to successfully
introduce to the crowd how software patents are a threat to developers,
and to projects. Not just in word, but actually stopping projects today.
He has a paper on the threat to RProxy linked from his blog, at
http://ozlabs.org/~rusty/rproxy.html which makes a good read.

The event was covered briefly by ZDNet at

Many thanks to all the speakers. It was a great forum, and I think it
introduced to people the fundamental need for an independent
investigation into our current IP system, and how it impacts the
Australia ICT sector, particularly the Australian SMEs, developers, and
community. Cheers all, and make sure you come along to the next one. If
anyone is interested in participating, or assisting, please let me
know :)


Pia Smith
President of Linux Australia

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