Meeting capacity and attendance


February 02 2006

Some of my casual observations from the HLUG panel on 01 February.

I counted 103 chairs in the central seating area. There was a lot of standing
room and some elected to use that even while seats were available. I estimate
attendance as 85. I guess the tape will tell.

An earlier poster made an age estimate for the crowd. The audience was largely
but not exclusively male. Perhaps 5% of attendees were female.

Early on, Dr. Salus asked if any lawyers were in attendance. One confessed, . .
. er, "self-identified." I wanted to ask, "From which
firm?" but, hey I wasn't on the stage.

01:13 PM EST

Report on Hamilton, Canada LUG Special Session on SCO v. IBM


February 03 2006

Here is another report based on notes that I took at the session. I have left out some parts that are already covered by John Macdonald's report.

Bob Young finds that copyright has gone astray. Around WWII copyright was 20 years. Copyright has been extended several times each time Mickey Mouse was about to lose copyright protection. Peter Salus added that the Sonny Bono bill (1998) extended protection to 70 years from the death of the creator. Effectively copyright lasts a 100 years. The song "I got You Babe" will be protected for a long time.

Bob states that the flaw in IP legislation is that there is a fundamental difference between physical objects and IP. When someone builds a chair, that chair can be willed to his kids. Copyright also allows someone to will the copyright to a song he writes to his children. The difference is that copyrights prevents everyone else from writing a similar song while there is nothing preventing anyone else from building his own chair.

Looking at Lulu, implementing DRM protection means that they must partner with one of the big consortium because they hold all the patents.

In 1976 copyright law eliminated the requirement to publish a copyright statement. This was a bigger change than extending copyright to 100 years because now you have to assume that copyright is held by someone. Legislators need to change this back. If the publisher doesn't care that work is in the public domain then the user shouldn't have to care. Using Creative Commons attribution is one way in which publishers can put works into the public domain.

Ren Bucholz explained that EFF started about 15 years ago. For the first 10 years they concentrated on privacy and free speech issues. Now they are also proponents of free software. IP are landmines working against freedom.

Peter Salus moved the discussion forward by stating that patents are the second evil of IP. There is a connection between copyrights and patents. Copyright was started in Britain in 1709 or 1710 and the first patent law came about 10 years later. Patent and Copyright laws were intended to benefit the creator. The US constitution states that patents are to encourage further development because creators will only do so when they get fair recompense.

Initially physical substantiation for patents was required, which is no longer the case. The patent system is now functioning with the motivation to issue and uphold patents, not from denying. The average patent application costs $25,000 USD. In the US more than 100,000 patents are issued each year. The patent filing industry is huge and they have a vested interest in keeping a broken industry broken.

Bob explained that the business environment in the US is tougher than in Canada, with a "take no prisoners" approach. SCO is not on its own, just follow the money. Microsoft invested $25M in SCO through the Canadian bank RBC, money which if taken back into the US would have required tax payments.

Ren Bucholz has been active internationally with the EFF. In additional to IP pressure in individual countries there are international treaties written, e.g. in Geneva. Once new IP restrictions are written into the international treaties, these get taken back to various countries with the incentive to adopt these treaties unchanged. There may be money and influence available from parties who would like to extend IP rights, but the bright spot is that for politicians votes trump money. Therefore the raising of political awareness around IP issues so that these issues become election issues is effective in stopping the implementation of legislation that is influenced by money. In the fight against expansion of IP rights in international forums, allies can exist in countries that have a stake in the outcome of agriculture, e.g. Brazil, India, and South Africa.

Bob Young talked about the founding of Red Hat. In the 90's when observing the falling prices of hardware against the increasing prices of software, harm was being done. As an entepreneur Bob looked at where harm was being done, then positioned Red Hat to serve people that were being harmed by providing an alternative consisting of free software.

Ren followed up by saying that the consumer is being harmed in restrictions on DVD usage and lack of innovation in this area, e.g. restrictions on backup or inability to take lawful video clips. In this case entrepreneurial opportunities are precluded by laws. 3-2-1 Studios was sued for marketing a DVD copying product.

Bob answered a question from the audience regarding SCO's overvalued stock price. An investor may want to have both IBM and SCO stock so that no matter which way the court decisions go, the investor would have hedged his bets.

There was a question regarding SCO's future in the lawsuits, allowing SCO to back away from litigation and leaving questions regarding Linux copyrights unanswered. Peter answered that SCO could drop its lawsuits, but that does not make the counterclaims go away, even in a bankruptcy situation.

08:51 AM EST

IBM Canada linux guy


February 03 2006

I read that "One of the audience members was the person responsible for Linux within IBM Canada" .. who is that guy ?

(I WISH I had been able to get to Hamilton for that meeting)

The reason I ask is that I run a little operation, here in Toronto, called linuxcaffe [ ]. We're a community hub, a meeting place for all sorts of open source geeks, a source for many different linux (and BSD) distros, and peddlers of some damn fine organic espresso, and I'd like to locate IBM Canadas numero uno penguin population person. (and Robert Young, RMS, ESR, Mark Shuttleworth and Linus, of course)

I'd also like to take another opportinity to shout out to PJ, you are one of my heros, A shining example of the power of openness. I like your style ! If you are ever in Toronto you MUST visit linuxcaffe, we carry your torch !

all fer now, djp

12:43 PM EST

IBM Canada linux guy

Peter H. Salus

February 03 2006


I will try to get to the Cafe on Monday and give
you the IBM guy's contact info.


Peter H. Salus

01:58 PM EST

Report on Hamilton, Canada LUG Special Session on SCO v. IBM


February 03 2006

John MacDonald wrote the lead article on this one, and a few others have
contributed. What follows are some of my rough notes, quickly punched into my
Blackberry. I've added a few bits in brackets to clarify my original comments.


Peter Salus: Review of chronology of the lawsuits. Working for Cravath Swaine
since 2003 as Unix historian.

Bob Young: Any lawyers? One.

Linus' secret for E-Mail .. Send to /dev/null .. If it's important they'll send
it again.

No longer a director of RH, so not officially a RH comment.

Started Linux Journal in early 90's.

After Second (World) War, patents were 20 years. Mickey Mouse copyright story
(Congress, won't you please extend this copyright? OK, again?). (Patents are
now) 70 years after death of creator. Sonny Bono and the chair argument. (I'm
just passing the chair down to my children and grandchildren. One of the
distinguished panelists offers to sing "I've Got You, Babe".)

(The reason behind) Charles Dickens serializing his stories (he got paid for
each chapter -- books were just copied by all the printers in town because there
was no copyright protection).

(As of) 1976 (authours) no longer have to put (c) on their items (thus, people
who want to use something have no way of finding out who the copyright owner is
-- worse, use it without checking and you could face a lawsuit).

Creative Commons copyright (.org web site)

Peter: mentions his articles are under the CC license.

Ren Buckholz: EFF (representative) in Toronto. Overview of EFF. IP originally a
lever to promote R and D, now (it's) a landmine.

Peter: review af American copyright and patent law. Diagrams and working models
required till 1978. Patent appeals discussion, patent examiners rewarded for
awarding patents. No patents, no rewards.

Bob: Video camera patent from 1963 (from some guy watching a football game and
doodling). (First production video camera wasn't produced till more than ten
years later -- then the patent holder sued and won.)

Peter: (Review of) RIM and NTP case.

Ren: Toronto High Park MP voted out (Very interesting, but is covered in much
better detail elsewhere.)

Peter: Michael Geist best Canadian on patent and copyright.
(Relative size of recording and technology companies.)
IBM and their 20 billion quarterly revenues ..

(My question about Stats on Groklaw .. Peter referred to webmaster since that's
not a legal research issue.)

Bob: (Was) Selling HW whose cost is dropping and OS cost is shooting up .. (it
occurred to him that there) Must be an entrepreneurial opportunity there. (And
founded Red Hat.)

Peter: How insane copyright length as it relates to music.

Ren on DVD rights.

(Some discussion on IBM patents .. Defensive move and IBM has donated patents

Bob: 100,000 patents (are registered) a year, (at a cost of) $20,000 each,
(that's) 2.5 billion (dollars). Votes trump money.

Peter: Canadian patent law (C-60) may die or the Conservatives may follow it

Ren: Compared to other International laws, it's (C-60) way better.

Bob: (Comments about) red tape, IP, PJ O'Rourke, Hong Kong (booming, little red
tape) and Bangledesh (stagnant, way too much red tape).


I had a chance to meet Peter Salus briefly at the break; a very jovial fellow,
but very modest about his little articles. He said he had the next chapter of
his serial 'in his head' and just needed to get it down to the computer, but
he'd been so busy lately. John MacDonald (who had been talking with Peter) and I
both explained we'd been busy fighting plumbing problems at home -- we actually
ran into each over the weekend at Home Depot buying plumbing parts. Small

Terrific meeting -- I'm glad I went.

T. Alex Beamish
(These comments published under the Creative Commons license -- if it works for
Peter Salus, it works for me.)

10:33 PM EST

Copyright 2006