A blog is not a blog if I don't report things that don't interest my readers but concern me. So let me deviate a bit from my usual cointenance and announce a new step in my carreer. As if you bother. In short, I have moved offices and I am now working with new people in the gorgeous and historic Palazzo Serbelloni. There I will team up with more people in Array, namely cybercrime expert Barbara Indovina, as well as Menichino & Associati and top-notch white collar criminal lawyer Giuseppe Pezzotta
A few minutes ago, Oracle has announced that Openoffice.org, the ODF-based Free Software suite for office productivity, will become a community developed project. In plain English, no more dual licensing, no more proprietary version, go ahead to incoming patches. Woot!
I am very happy to hear about this move, which was not entirely unexpected (by me, at least). To tell all the truth, reaching this point was my secret plan when I have started helping Oracle in the merger control procedure opened by the European Commission last year, where the acquisition of Sun was under scrutiny. I was telling everybody that the dual licensing approach was going to die, that id did not make much sense anymore, that it was "moot" – I actually mentioned MySQL there, but the same applies to Openoffice.org, actually. As it turns out, I was right.
I don't know how, but the cat was out of the bag even before I had full details of it. An order of the Court of Milano confirmed with an unusually detailed opinion another order of the same Court imposing Google to filter out libelous "search suggestions". I am lead counsel in the litigation, so it is inappropriate for me to go into details or to praise the order. All I have to say is that it is by no means an endorsement to censorship, as notice to the sued company was given well in advance, the alligations of the complainant were fully discussed with them before even considering to go to court, and the requests was and is only for a very exceptional set of string (two). All cases are different, therefore there is no assurance that similar cases would see the same outcome.
A new issue of the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review is out. This number sports among others a very interesting article by my good friend Maurits Dolmans on the interaction of patents and standards, with a plea for Open Standards. Definitely worth reading. Also noteworthy an introduction to a document that attempts at clarifying how the various linking and other interactions between software from different sources can work – or not work – in copyleft software mingling, by Malcolm Bain.
Other hot topics covered are the patenting of software in Europe, by Noam Shemtov, and the somewhat controversial Project Harmony aims and workings, explained by the leading lawyer Amanda Brock. For those interested in public procurement, the article by Mathieu Paapst explains some aspects of the affirmative actions to favor open source, form mostly an economical perspective, which nicely complements my own article in the previous issue. Those who like reading controversial authors will definitely love to hate Matt Asay's platform article.
Go and fetch it, it's [F | f] ree!
Aduc, an Italian Consumers association, has served on Microsoft Italia (the local branch of Microsoft Corp) a class action complaining that the company consistently refuses to reimburse users the price of ubiquitous windows licenses, bundled with OEM (Original Equipement Manufacturers) computers. I am part of a much larger legal team that has produced it and I can briefly illustrate what it is about.
Italy has adopted a regulation (Art. 140 bis of the Italian Consumers Code) that allows consumers individually (not consumers associations, which is strange) to file class actions, through ordinary proceedings, open to be joined at a later time. A class action is a case which is arguably identical to a class of users and which is likely to protect the interest of this class. Unfortunately, the Italian version has been adopted with very odd provisions that limit the effectiveness of it, as one can read in this document by Aduc (in Italian).
Paypal has been reported closing Wikileaks' account through which it obtained donations. This is unacceptable and arbitrary. This is derogatory towards the associations and the thousands of common people who cared enough of their Freedom of Speech to spend money on this. This is why I have decided that if they don't want Wikileaks' money, they do not want mine either, and I have closed my account with them.
Here is what they wrote me:
Dear Carlo Piana,