Last week I attended the OpenWorld Forum Conference (to be distinguished from our good friends of OpenForum Europe) and I met several interesting people. The location was very nice and I look forward its second edition; many thanks to our hosts and the conference organisers.
One specific conference I was attending was the FOSS strategy track. At some point there was a panel discussion where the CEO of Red Hat France, two persons from the competitivity clusters Cap Digital and Systematic, the COO of Talend who joined the Open Source work group of the Afdel. The Afdel is an organisation representing French software vendors. By vendors they usually mean proprietary vendors. By French, they usually mean Microsoft and some french software vendors. For some reason unknown to me, they always side with Microsoft on every issue. They must think Microsoft is French or something of that kind. But I digress.
At some point the pannel discussion touched to the sensitive topic of software patents. I felt compelled to listen even more carefully as I’m concerned with the economic and moral issues of software patents, and the quite undemocratic attempts to include them in the European IPR system. For those interested, I recently gave a speech on this topic at an European Commission workshop.
The Afdel’s point is that it was right to protect innovation. By innovation they mean code, so their point was that it was crucial to properly protect code, even open source code, so software patents were valid. The Afdel was adamant at letting us know about what I can only translate as being software “fraud”, that is, people stealing code from other developers. This argument was obviously justifying software patents.
This got me thinking. Forgive me this simple reasonning, but I think it makes sense to conclude that since there’s only Free and Open Source Software code that is widely available on the Internet, then the Afdel thinks that using, running, modifying and distributing Free and Open Source Software is actually code steal. The issue is of course that there is no such thing when it comes to FOSS. So whoelse might be stealing that code? … Proprietary software vendors maybe? After all we have no way to really know if they haven’t integrated code that is publicly available in their products and then claim it’s all theirs… I’ll stop there, some will call me disingenuous if I continue my rant.
In other news, Germany has decided to start a nation-wide migration to ODF. I wonder what the DIN thinks of that announcement. Okay, I got it, I’m stopping this post right here. I promess.