Past Engagements

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Kuhn will deliver the keynote at the 2008 Plone Conference. His keynote is titled, When Software Is a Service, Will Only the Network Luddite Be Free?.


So-called Application Service Providers, who provide “Software as a Service” (SaaS), are now the rule rather than the exception in the software industry. The freedom implications of ubiquitous, high-bandwidth networking and AJAX-based application delivery are not yet fully understood nor adequately addressed by the Software Freedom Movement, such that even those of us who have been paying attention during SaaS’ rise remain befuddled by the freedom implications of the new environment.

Our Movement must develop a multi-front response to this proprietary threat that will make the 1980s and 1990s battle against proprietary operating system vendors look easy. The challenge is specifically centered around two complex issues: (a) traditional user-freedom-protecting licenses (i.e., the copyleft) fail to protect the freedoms of SaaS users, and (b) even if users have the source code to the application they are using, they cannot run it themselves and generate the same network-effect available in the canonical instance.

In this talk, Kuhn will frame and introduce the key questions introduced by these new issues. He will discuss the Affero GPL, which is one of few FLOSS licenses that address this concern from the software licensing perspective, and explain how our traditional solutions cannot succeed as easily in this new context.

According to hosting sites like Sourceforge, the GNU General Public License (GPL), and related licenses like the LGPL, are the distribution terms for the majority of FOSS, including Linux. However, few software developers and managers understand the how to properly prepare a compliant “complete and corresponding” source code release to accompany binary distributions, and how to keep their product in ongoing and correct compliance thereafter. This session, given by one of the world’s most experienced GPL enforcers, will cover the basics of keeping your distribution in compliance, particularly in the embedded architecture space, where most GPL violations now occur.

Most companies find that the rules of the GPL are easy and unburdensome, and are an excellent catalyst to improve their engineering build and packaging processes. In addition, many companies have discovered that GPL compliance vetting is essential in software redistribution deals, lest they inherent compliance problems from an upstream provider.

As they grow larger, FOSS projects need more than good coders and documentors—they need legal support and organizational infrastructure for continued success. The Software Freedom Law Center and the Software Freedom Conservancy, respectively, provide these services to FOSS projects.

At this BoF, we’ll briefly outline the services offered pro-bono to the FOSS community by these organizations, and then open the floor to discuss what challenges your project faces on these front.

We won’t be able to give formal legal advice at this session, but we can help your project leaders begin to think about these questions and make a plan for addressing them.

See OSCON 2008 site for more information…

This talk will address common legal organizational issues facing free and open source software projects. The discussion will provide a background in nonprofit corporate and tax information, streamlined for helping developers evaluate how best to form and manage their organizations and activities. Different forms of organization will be discussed, including incorporated nonprofits, umbrella organizations and developers acting without legal form. Karen will also explore the obligations that individuals take on as they volunteer their time with these various types of organizations.

See OSCON 2008 site for more information…

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