Some pointers on European Software Strategy, WIPO and further reading

It’s been one of “those” months. Again.

First and foremost, the European Software Strategy has taken up a lot of time and energy for myself and others in FSFE. Having been invited to contribute our expertise to the process of drafting input into the strategy, we’ve participate in several working groups, including the one on Free Software that made it to Slashdot. That article was probably well-meant, but made representation of Free Software interests in the group harder.

The next time I would encourage people to pause to consider three things:

  • Without knowledge about the procedure into which any document is embedded it is impossible to know what a particular document means and how much influence it has.

  • People working for the European Commission have some political experience and may be aware of any particular interests motivating a specific statement, and that they are bound to inclusiveness of opinions and possibly should not choose to exclude one set of opinions or another.

  • It is practically impossible for an outsider to know which person in the Commission is responsible for which decision. The chance that anger is misdirected is high. Imagine a situation in which hundreds of angry emails are launched at you for something that you have not been responsible for, and what that does to your opinion about the group of people launching that barrage.

The obvious reaction of another proprietary software representative was of course to insinuate that FSFE were not able to maintain the procedural confidentiality customary in such a process. This was aimed at weakening our contributions and additionally implied that it would be better for future working groups not to include representatives of Free Software interests.

Suffice it to say that this leak was not helpful and primarily increased the workload and pressure of those working for Free Software interests, and that everyone we worked with as part of this process credibly explained to me that they were not responsible for it.

But tactical maneuvers and individual agendas aside, some of the discussions around the European Software Strategy were quite enlightening, and helped me gain new perspectives that I am planning to share over the next weeks and months.

In the meantime, preparations for the 13th Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) at WIPO are ongoing. Recommended reading: “Innovation Policy: The Balance Between Standards and Patent Regulation” which was published by as an inside views column and already began attracting interesting feedback.

And if you are interested in a more personal perspective on how FSFE got started, Stian interviewed me for the Fellowship Interview series. Maybe this interview will encourage you to get involved, and run for the 2009 Fellowship seat, candidates can register until 31 March 2009.

So don’t forget to register yourself. I hope to see you at the June 2009 General Assembly in Spain.

About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is a technologist and entrepreneur. Background as a software developer and physicist. Head of product development and Chairman at Vereign AG. Founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). Previously president and CEO at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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