Some notes about the FSFE FTF Legal Workshop

I'm currently on the train heading back home from Amsterdam, where the last two days I've been attending the 2009 Legal Workshop of the Legal Network of the Free Software Foundation Europe.

I have to admit that it was a big surprise to me that the constructive atmosphere and the quality of the presentations, panels and hallway discussions has even improved beyond the already exceptional level last year.

So even if some of the more technical readers of this blog would find it hard to agree: It can actually be a lot of fun to spend two days locked up in a conference room full of 40 lawyers :)

It was very clear that the Free Software license compliance has moved ahead quite a bit since its early days. We have had a number of independent lawyers as well as corporate legal counsels from various backgrounds, as well as some folks like myself with a very technical background but a vested interest in legal aspects of FOSS.

Let me report on some of the most exciting parts of the workshop, at least from my perspective:

  • An official representative of WIPO reporting on their recent considerations regarding collaborative creative work such as FOSS and the creative commons projects
  • Very insightful talks about software patents and the various new projects like the Open Innovation Network, LinuxDefenders, Peer-to-Patent, etc. I believe the significance of this work for the future of FOSS cannot be underestimated, no matter of which jurisdiction you are in.
  • This year, two legal experts from Taiwan were attending and received considerable attention given the many problems that FOSS has both legally and technically with products from the Taiwanese industry
  • Last, but not least, I have made some very interesting new contacts from people involved in Linux on mobile phones

Thanks a lot to the FSFE and particularly Shane's excellent work in putting the Legal Network and the conference together. Thanks also to the sponsors of the workshop, including Canonical and Black Duck.