In the latest Free as in Freedom podcast Karen Sandler and Bradley Kuhn play a recording of and discuss my FOSDEM law&policy presentation from back in February. The podcast covered all but one FOSDEM law&policy talk, see the archives.
I’m very happy with how this episode turned out. I managed to at least briefly include more points in a half hour than I recall having done, and Sandler and Kuhn manage to discuss far more of them than I would’ve hoped. Listen (ogg, mp3) and refer to slides (pdf, odp).
Further notes on two issues mentioned in the discussion follow.
Equality and Freedom
I’m glad that Sandler mentioned free software’s great equality story. But, I should say what I mean by that. I don’t primarily mean equal access, though that’s important. I mean contributing to reducing inequality of income, wealth, power. I’ve done precious little to articulate this, and I don’t know anyone else who has either, but there’s a reason it is the very first of my suggested considerations for future policy. Similarly, I think free software’s grand freedom story is not the proximate freedoms to run, study, modify, share software, but their role in protecting and promoting a free society. Again, much more needs to be said, provocatively (and that, critiqued, etc). Software freedom and nearby ought be claiming space in the commanding heights of political dialogue.
Hardware design licensing
I’m glad that Kuhn stated that he sees no reason for not using GPLv3 for hardware designs, and scoffs (privately, I suppose) at people making up new licenses for the same. As far as I know there are two papers that try to make the case for new hardware design licenses, and as far as I can tell they both fail. But, as far as I know no FLOSS establishment institution has proclaimed the correctness of using GPLv3 or a compatible license for hardware designs, nor explained why, nor reached out to open hardware folk when discussing new such licenses. How can this change? Perhaps such people should be alerted to copyleft-next. Perhaps I should be happy that hardware has been long ignored; one can imagine a universe with an equally twisted late 1990s vintage GNU FHL to accompany the GNU FDL.
In 2009 Sandler and Kuhn interviewed me for the previous podcast, the Software Freedom Law Show. I did not blog about it then, but much of the discussion is probably still pertinent, if you wish to listen.