linux.conf.au Tutorial Day continued
I didn’t go to any afternoon tutorials. I went over to Glenelg, which turns out to be a poor use of time if you aren’t prepared to either shop or swim. I would prefer to swim than shop, but I hadn’t brought any swimming gear with me. The landscape is spoilt by an ugly mountain of concrete which partially contains some water slides. I’d like to go on them, but everyone has looked at me like I’m crazy.
I then went out to dinner with many of the same people I’d been at the pub with the previous night. This time they’d chosen a pub convienently close to the college accomodation and some blocks from the pub that we are staying in. robertc claimed not to be a full time Arch advocate, but failed miserably. Once again the conference ate some potential pub go-ers, the professional networking session spitting out conrad, ozone and Silvia as spiv and I headed home.
linux.conf.au Presentation Day 1
Malcolm is a good speaker, and the talk was well organised and presented. My main problem with it was that a lot of the material would be relatively familiar to your average armchair Free Software lawyer. I’m by no means anything more than a straggler in this field but the distinction between what copyrights protect and what patents protect is fairly clear to me. Hence, the most interesting parts of the talk were those that covered material I wasn’t very familiar with.
Most of the discussion of doing both free software work and proprietary work that I’ve seen has been focussed on observing the terms of contracts between an employer and employee, as well as understanding the intellectual property assignment that is part of work for hire. I’ve never seen trade secrets law discussed specifically before. Malcolm didn’t talk about trade secrets law in depth, but that was one heads-up from the talk.
His discussion of controlling intellectual property issues in your own projects was fairly brief but suggested that you needed to make it clear to individual developers that they were responsible for making sure that they were not contributing doubtful intellectual property (although in practice getting them to accept liability would not be feasible as it would scare of all or most contributors).
His final interesting point was that you should seriously consider using a licence that doesn’t totally ignore the possibility that patent-infringing code may appear in your product, or that claims of infringement might be made, and recommended the Mozilla Public Licence specifically because of the patent clauses.
One of the problems of talks given by a member of a community that is viewed warily by hackers at this sort of conference is that they come to be viewed as an avatar for that community. There were a few questions from the audience that suggested they were viewing Malcolm as a stand-in for the legal community and the courts system, but even these questions were asked in a fair good spirit.