On Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 10:40 AM, Karsten Wade <kwade(a)redhat.com> wrote:
On Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 09:45:53AM -0800, Luis Villa wrote:
> process and participation fora are easy for you to find. I will of
> course continue to hang out on this list, but we're hoping we can
> many comments through our own tools:
I'd like to make a relate-topic observation.
During Richard Fontana's talk at SCALE, I heard a clear need for a
community of practice for the FLOSS legal community, both lawyers
and interested practitioners such as Spot.
I'd be very interested in seeing if some of what you learn in this MPL
refresh process would have benefited from having such a community of
practice in place already. Not sure if folks care enough to follow
through on the little bit of infrastructure needed (stand alone,
neutral space mailing list at e.g. flosslaw.org
), so I'll keep beating
on this drum for a little longer.
nutshell: I think the basic answer to 'would you have benefited from
this being in place already' is 'it already was basically in place,
though perhaps not in the form you're thinking of, and so we did
benefit from it. Improving the situation further will be hard.'
The more detailed version: In an unstructured way, there is definitely
a growing floss legal community of shared interests and relationships;
when we started this process I could list at least a half-dozen people
who I knew would want to be involved and would give of their time, and
this list is much longer now. This 'can I call on them for help' test
is at the heart of my personal test for 'are people a community', and
the legal community passed the test. This informal
trans-organizational community was very helpful in evaluating the
early groundwork for the MPL process.
In a more structured way, there already are several mailing
lists/organizations for FLOSS lawyers. I am aware of at least three
besides the OSI and distro lists. One such group that is publicly
visible (though private membership/mailing list) and has already
provided some useful MPL feedback is
. OSI and Linux
Foundation have also started building some legal infrastructure; see,
Unfortunately, lawyers have a lot of structural and cultural
impediments to forming real communities of practice, which is part of
why you (very reasonably) have assumed that they don't exist. The
structure of privilege, evidence, and ethics law, for example, make
lawyers very nervous to discuss anything in public, helping keep those
groups mentioned above quiet and out of the limelight. The billable
hour encourages us (even those of us not on the billable hour) to be
very skeptical of any activity which doesn't give an immediate payoff.
Our occasional arrogance about the complexity of what we do makes it
very, very hard to break down the insider/outsider boundary. And our
habitual allergy to cluetrain-style plain language, which is so
essential to a functional community that you don't even mention it in
the Open Source Way, is obviously also a problem. None of this is to
say it shouldn't be improved- your concern is well placed- and I hope
it will improve when I rule the legal world with an iron fist. But in
the meantime that improvement probably has to start with the culture
rather than with infrastructure.
So... does that answer your question? :)