01 September 2010

Free Software Movement Founder to Speak in Australia

A significant proportion of our practise is in the area of software and information technologies, and we have a number of clients with patents and applications in this general field.  We are therefore, unsurprisingly, supportive of software patents not merely because they are a source of work (there are many other sources of work, after all), but mainly because our own experience has shown us how patents and other intellectual property rights add value to our clients' businesses and assist them in achieving commercial and strategic outcomes.

We therefore disagree with pretty much everything Richard Stallman – originator of the GNU project, and founder of the Free Software Foundation – has ever had to say about the alleged "evils" of software patents and copyright.

To be clear, we have nothing against free software per se, whether that is freedom of the "free beer" or "free speech" variety.  We just do not share the quasi-religious belief that freedom-of-software is some sort of inalienable human right that should supersede the right of commercial organisations to conduct their businesses as openly or proprietarily as they see fit.  Nor do we believe that someone whose business happens to rely upon the development and distribution of embedded or stand-alone software should be denied the same legal opportunities and protections afforded to those in more "traditional" technologies.

But this is not to say that the system is perfect, or that it should not be subject to scrutiny, challenge and debate.  And we are nothing if not fair!  Stallman is a highly intelligent and committed individual who has devoted much of his life to a cause that he believes in passionately.  We have seen him speak on a previous occasion, and found his ideas to be thought-provoking, as well as infuriating!

Stallman will be giving a number of seminars over the next month or so in Australia, on the topic of Free Software in Ethics and Practice.  The dates of which we are aware are as follows:
  1. Victoria – Wednesday 15 September 2010, Melbourne University, Copland Theatre.
  2. Queensland – Thursday 23 September 2010, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
  3. ACT – Wednesday 6 October 2010, ANU, Manning Clark Centre.
  4. NSW – Monday 11 October 2010, UNSW, Clancy Auditorium.
All of these events are free (as in both "free beer" and "free speech"), however large turn-outs are expected, so registration is required.

And on a related note, if you have not completed our Software Patents Survey yet, we intend to close it at the end of this week, so this is your last chance!

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