The LinuxWorld conference and expo kicks off in San Francisco today. Among the general announcements and keynote presentations one to watch is the open source movement's bid to harness the power of the law.
On Thursday, open source advocates will leave the conference en masse and march on City Hall in San Francisco to deliver a proposal "that is, for once, aware of free software and open source software". Similar marches for software freedom will take place in the UK, Peru, Germany, New Zealand and Finland.
Backed by major players such as Red Hat, the disparate open source movement will lobby for proposed US legislation known as the Digital Software Security Act (DSSA) to "protect its future and the future disposition of public domain, free and open software".
Red Hat cited a number of pieces of existing and proposed legislation "that are dangerous to free software, to open source, to civil liberties and to programming freedom".
Among those named were the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), the Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act (UCITA) and open source nemesis the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
In its preamble the DSSA reads: "The State of California seeks to improve the security, interoperability and quality of its software while lowering the cost and invigorating competition among suppliers. To guarantee the succession and permanence of public software and data, it is necessary that the usability and maintenance of the software be independent of the goodwill of the suppliers, or on the monopoly conditions imposed by them."
The proposed legislation also claims that "California's software integrity and security is jeopardised by proprietary software systems whose security and product enhancements are provided solely by the software's vendor."
The aim of the action taking place at LinuxWorld on Thursday is to lobby to prohibit California from buying software from any vendor that does not open source its code and licensing policies.
Red Hat said it was marching "to thank California for being one of the states willing to stand up to Microsoft in the antitrust trials. And to ask them to take it one step further by backing the DSSA".
The DSSA can be read in its entirety here.
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