Safeguarding the Kernel

[ Article transferred from my old wiki ]

When confronting to a hostile environment that despite your multiplied attempts, you can’t manage to change or at least, not quickly enough to save your skin, there are two options : either you keep shouting “we’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die” and then when the witching hour arrives, look at your fellow agonising next to you and say “see, I told you” ; OR, you shut up for one minute, draw as deep as possible inside yourself and manage somehow – at this point, nobody can tell you how – to adapt to the situation and survive until it evolves.

During this critical period, there are globally three things you should safeguard as a person : your physical shape, intellectual health and moral integrity. The human being kernel. All you can count on thus being your own strength, focus on what you can control, and forget about the rest – theory tested by your humble servant although hmm, her life “as such” was not exactly threaten.

What works for individuals works for communities as well ; you just have to refine what you put into the kernel. In the case of the Linux community – to take an absolutely random example of course – the latter is made of the main components of the Linux operating system.

Having demonstrated in my previous post why the current Intellectual Property law was detrimental to innovation and thus, would only lead to some sort of global disaster unless seriously reformed – although I did not use those alarmist terms, leaving the conclusion to the smart reader – I initially felt quite satisfied about my brilliant reasoning.

Shortly enough I turned out to feel rather stupid thought, as I had been pointing out the problems but did not propose anything concrete to avoid a catastrophic scenario – being aware the IP system * is * evolving, but so slowly that our whole industry is currently clearly at stake. I started thinking, I should now look for solutions and in that extent, began to read all the literature that I found about how open source leaders, as first ones concerned, were dealing with the situation, my main concern being, as you can guess, the software patents plague.

Investigating at an OSS summit, I got in touch at that right moment with Open Invention Network, US based organization dedicated at preserving the Linux ecosystem.

Founded in 2005 right after the first patent attacks against major companies using Linux, OIN consists in a world wide non-aggression pact associated with a bunch of defensive tools.

While its members and licensees are bound by a minimalist cross-licensing agreement as regards to any Linux related software, ie. most of the open source market, OIN has developed its own patent pool to discourage any one who would feel like agressing the community – although it has never been used yet to sue anyone. OIN thus reverses the situation by offering some sort of free insurance policy based on the patent system itself.

Because the purpose is not to feed the latter but to actually safeguard the kernel, OIN then fosters the use of defensive publications instead of patents as well as prior art listing, cutting down innovation costs and the deliverance of trivial patents.

At first glance, I was quite sceptical so most probably, you will. But as long as software patents will be granted by patent offices, come and let me know if you have a better idea.

Until then, I found a place there so I am proud to announce you that in parallel of spreading awareness on the cold war that we are facing, I am now also participating in building the shelter. Someday, maybe I will negotiate the global demilitarisation.. Things happen. Let’s see.