[Linux-aus] 200411 - Linux Australia News

Pia Smith pia at linux.org.au
Fri Nov 19 12:22:06 UTC 2004

Hi all,

The last month was again kind of busy. We have one committee member
living in the US for 6 months (be safe Michael!), one committee member
rabidly trying to protect us all from legal foo (hey Rusty!), Andrew is
going to be speaking at the Linux Bangalore conference, Stewart is
coding furiously for the 2005 Linux Australia online elections with
nominations to open soon and I have been running around doing forums and

The major news bits are:

FTA and IP issues
Linux Australia in collaboration with Open Source Industry Australia and
Baker & McKenzies ran the first Open Source Forum. The breakdown can be
found at
Many thanks to all who contributed and attended! There was a very good
response are we are looking at running them somewhat regularly. Thus far
there has been a call for forums on "Linux on the Desktop",
"Anti-circumvention Legislation", "Open Source Business Methodologies",
and more. If you are interested in helping out, speaking or hosting a
forum, please let us know.

The Linux Australia server was cracked, and some of our websites had the
text "SPYKIDS by guns_1" rather than the usual content. Many many thanks
to Anand, Leon and Jeff, particularly Anand and Leon for getting the
problem under control in super fast time.

I (Pia Smith) spoke at the Unlocking IP conference
http://www.bakercyberlawcentre.org/unlocking-ip/ primarily about some
working models of sharing information, such as international content
projects and Linux. I will also be blogging about it extensively, as
several things were made very clear to me from that conference. Watch
http://pipka.org/blog/ for more information.

Other events
Andrew Cowie will be speaking at the Linux Bangalore/2004's "FOSS
usergroups around the world" track. Congratulations Andrew and have fun:

"Endless sunrise: sailing on the sea of change"

Strengthening the community: building a national Linux organisation and
fighting for FOSS on the political stage

Linux Australia got its start as the parent organisation of the annual
Linux conference in Australia, Linux.Conf.Au. As LCA has blossomed into
one of the foremost technical conferences worldwide, participation from
Linux User Groups (LUGs) around the country grew, and with that came an
increased demand that there be an organisation to represent Linux and
Open Source on the national stage.

At the beginning of the year, the governments of Australia and the
United States announced they had negotiated a Free Trade Agreement. It
didn't take too long for Free Software advocates and others to realise
that included in the FTA were entire chapters devoted to imposing US
style software patents and DMCA anti-circumvention measures.
Intellectual Property rights are one of the cornerstones of our
freedoms, but unfortunately they can be used by unscrupulous companies
in uncompetitive and unfair ways. Our legal advice was that if these
clauses became law, it would be bad for open source developers.  So,
Linux Australia set out into the uncharted territory of public policy
advocacy, hoping to raise the profile of these issues and get political
support to protect our right to hack code!

These efforts have been surprisingly effective. We now have a notable
media profile (the newspaper editors read our press releases!) and have
established bridges to numerous levels of government.  In the process
legislators and civil servants at all levels have learned more about
Information Technology in general and Free and Open Source Software

That in turn ties directly back to our organisation's purpose - to
enhance opportunities for people to develop and use Linux and Open
Source Software and to promote the interests and enthusiasms of people
in the industry.

So this talk will share these experiences and offer lessons for people
interested in advocating policies in favour of Open Source in their
communities.  The best part about open source is that we can all build
on each others successes - and I have every hope of inspiring you to go
on to even greater things."

Rock on Australia,

Pia Smith
President of Linux Australia

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