There’s a new legal journal out, and it is all about (and by) us. “Us” in the wide sense of the word, those people that are concerned with legal issues around Free Software communities, projects, organizations. You can find it on boing boing as well, where Andrew Katz, one of the editorial team, is quoted as “even lawyers can adopt a collaborative model and create something both free as in freedom, and as in beer.” This collaboration is in part thanks to the Freedom Task Force of the Free Software Foundation Europe, which has created a neutral ground for exactly this kind of collaboration and sparring around Free Software law questions. You’ll see that positive, constructive dialogue is our main weapon.
If you were to look in the journal, you’d find a piece by me commenting on some topics that were active in march and april, basically a blog on paper. I like it that way, and I feel my role both as a columnist for that journal and within the FTF as a whole is to push the technical and community aspects. In other words, make sure that the topics that are relevant in Free Software communities are taken up by the legal experts that write for the journal. In the meantime, I’m learning about the practice and interpretation of law. It’s fun to get lost in the twisty passages of esoteric interpretations of licenses, but far more useful in the medium term to provide services aimed at projects and businesses involved with Free Software. The journal, I think, provides a means to communicate interpretations of the law to all involved — also people in the projects, not on the bench.
One might get one’s knickers in a knot over the title of the journal, which contains either a redundancy (Open Source software is Free Software, and there’s no need to expand upon Free Software) or is missing several additional terms like Libre and Liberal. I like the latter, but that’s because the opening keynote of GCDS was by Robert Lefkowitz; it was a wonderful display of showmanship and rhetorical skill. The upshot of the talk was that we use Free Software because we are lawyers (or pretend to talk to them) and gentlemen.
So be it. I will go find my monocle and take the first train to London, there to consult with Sherlock Holmes on the case of the licentious liberal.