[Linux-aus] Research Project

Anand Kumria wildfire at progsoc.uts.edu.au
Thu Nov 25 08:31:01 UTC 2004

On Thu, Nov 25, 2004 at 07:52:34AM +1100, Pia Smith wrote:
> On Thu, 2004-11-25 at 02:08 +1100, Anand Kumria wrote:
> <snip>
> > Bottom-line:
> > 	3 x $5k (cash)
> > 	3 x $8k (in kind)
> > 
> > 	~$40k in direct costs?
> > 
> > 	Not including accomodation and/or transport of nominated
> > 	individuals which I easily imagine at roughyl $5K/yr.
> > 
> > 	all up ~$55k.
> No... All up $15k cash from LA, plus 12 days effort a year, from various
> people interested in participating.
> <snip>

Cash costs and in-kind costs are what you might submit to the Australian
Research Council (ARC) in order for them to reimburse you. I'm currently
involved in a research project and _at_ _a_ _minimum_ your in-kind costs
(people, equipment, etc.) are expected to match you cash contribution.

Please re-read the proposal you forwarded more carefully and you'll see
that my figures are very close to the *minimum* stump-up fee.

> > What is the ROI on this research project, would be one of my starting
> > questions.
> > 
> > I believe a more effective was to spend this kind of money would be to 
> > take a $1000 ad in say, The Australian IT section, for a year pointing 
> > out the problems with Patents, Copyright Law, Trademark Law and Trade 
> > Secrets and what impact they have on Free Software.
> I guess I see the worth here in that we have serious
> lawyers/intellectuals/industry types doing a proper independent
> investigation into the existing IP systems. 

Note, the only problem I particularly have is with the way Patents in
this country work.  I'm mostly happy with Copyright / Trademark and
Trade Secrets.  You keep talking about IP in the general case.  But I 
think you mean patents, yes?

> When LA talk, what we say is taken very much with a grain of salt. 

Of course! That's the point. As a politician you'd be foolish, unless
there was a lot of money in it, to take the word of each vested interest

That why they'll listen to each side and attempt to come up with a
balance between the too. Haven't you noticed how many (useful)
politically active organisations tend to come down 'hard' on one side of
an issue?  They do this knowing that their opinion is going to be
discounted. Think of it as a bargining tactic.  Or me being cynical.
But the end result is the same.

> What will come out of this research project will be a high profile look 
> at the issues, and with some input to the project, we can hopefully 
> ensure that they don't do the wrong thing. 

But no one has asked for it.  If this was a governmental review of
Patent law or a review being conducted by the independent Australian Council 
on Intelluctual Property (www.acip.gov.au), which has the
Attorney-General's ear then I'd be more supportive.

It isn't, so I'm not.

> Imagine if one of the outcomes of this project was that serious reform 
> needed to be made to the Australian software patents system? 

I do not believe a three-year research project will ever have that
outcome. A more effective way to get that would be to engage a diverse
group of people and large and small companies who object to Patents.

I suspect that a number of companies shy away from being associated with
Free Software and that something like 'nosoftwarepatents.com.au' might
be agnostic enough to achieve critical mass.  There are plenty of large
companies with serious money to devote to this issue but who aren't
interested in Free Software, or find it a threat to their future

> > Considering that the project research proposal was pitched at business,
> > even though the topic is important, I don't think the research project
> > is a good fit for Linux Australia.
> I think that because the issue at hand is a direct concern for many
> people in our community, having a community voice in such a project is
> vital to our issues being aired. Just having business voices in such
> discussions is what has brought us so far down the dark path to start.

I agree having a community voice is important but I do not believe that
a research project is good tactical use of our time and money.

What brought us to this 'dark path' is trade negociators who don't understand 
their job. And politicians scared of pointing out the downside of the USFTA. 

> We need to ensure we use our voice proactively, and stop just being
> reactionary.

Enaging with the Attorney-General department (has anyone asked them when the 
are reviewing patent law?) or ACIP would be more constructive I believe.


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