As noted in my post last night, the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) was retained by Sakai to evaluate and advise on the Blackboard patent. This morning, Inside Higher Ed ran a post containing responses from Blackboard's general counsel, Matthew Small, about Sakai retaining the SFLC, as well as Blackboard's general desire to work with (and not challenge) open source projects. (UPDATE: For the counter points to the IHE article, make sure to read the recently added comments at the end that bring the focus back to a challenge of the legitimacy of the patent versus if / when BB will challenge open source projects and users on the patent.) From excerpts in the IHE post:
Blackboard’s general counsel, Matthew Small, said in an interview Thursday that he was glad that the Sakai Foundation was getting legal advice because it might find out that Blackboard was in no way threatening the open source movement. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Small said. “There’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what [the patent] represents and what it doesn’t represent.”
In the interview, Small said repeatedly that Blackboard has no plans to challenge open source projects on patent issues, and he said that such challenges “wouldn’t make good business sense” for the company. At the same time, Small declined to directly answer whether Blackboard believes that open source projects are infringing on the company’s patent rights. “No patent holder is under obligation to go out and find infringement wherever it may be,” he said. “We are not focusing on the open source community or the education community.”
... At the same time, Blackboard officials have repeatedly said that they want to work with open source programs, and many colleges mix Blackboard and open source services.
I had not heard about the SFLC before yesterday, so I Googled them this morning:
- Eben Moglen - Chairman: Professor of Law and Legal History at Columbia University Law School and General Counsel of the Free Software FoundationDiane
- Diane M. Peters - Director: General Counsel of Open Source Development Labs (“OSDLtral body dedicated to accelerating the use of Linux for enterprise computcomputingLawrence
- LLessige Lessigy
- Daniel J. Weitzner - Director: Director of the World Wide Web Consortium's (“W3C”) Technology and Society activitWeitznere he is responsible for development of technology standards that enable the web to address social, legal, and public policy concerns such as privacy, free speech, security, protection of minors, authentication, intellectual property and identification
"We provide legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance Free and Open Source Software.
Free and Open Source Software (“FOSS”) is maturing at a rapid pace. The FOSS production ecosystem, once dominated by a few small not-for-profit entities and individual contributors, now includes a global array of individuals, not-for-profit entities, and commercial developers and redistributors. In this mixed-model organizational setting, all FOSS developers require an environment redistributorslity and other legal issues do not impede their important public service work. The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) provides legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance FOSS."
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