Re: [Spi-private] Bruce's Platform

From: Matthew Garrett <mjg59-spi(at)srcf(dot)ucam(dot)org>
Cc: spi-private(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org, spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: [Spi-private] Bruce's Platform
Date: 2006-07-14 15:34:43
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On Fri, Jul 14, 2006 at 07:51:40AM -0700, Bruce Perens wrote:
> Matthew Garrett wrote:
> >If elected, how will you ensure that you attend a higher proportion of
> >meetings?
> >
> I have now been nudged on the issue and will keep a closer eye on it.

If you are elected and your attendance does not improve, can we expect
you to resign?

> >This makes it sound awfully like you want to be involved in SPI so that
> >you can use SPI to justify your political campaigning.
> Actually, it's sort of the reverse. I want SPI and you to be more
> involved in that stuff.

How does that require you to be on the board? If you want to change
SPI's activities, then I think a better approach would be to convince
the board that it's worthwhile rather than sit on a board that may well
disagree with you. If you're the only pro-lobbying board member, there's
inevitably going to be friction.

> >What procedures will you be using to ensure that you have the backing of
> >the member organisations?
> The last time I did this, which was the W3C patent policy thing, I asked
> the SPI board first.

The board does not necessarily have representation from all member
organisations. I know that Postgresql has funding from bodies who would
not necessarily be happy with being associated with an anti-software
patent organisation. How would you deal with member organisations that
hold different political stances to you?

> >Which of the goals outlined in the SPI bylaws do you believe would justify
> >this?
> >
> It would be education - one of the main reasons for the organization
> that we gave at its formation, and to the state and tax authorities.
> 501(c)3 organizations may educate others about political issues. This is
> the reason that organizations like EFF and Public Knowledge give. There
> are some things we must avoid as a 501(c)3. We can't operate as a PAC.

"Education" is only mentioned in SPI's goals in the following place:

"* to provide information and education regarding the proper use of the

I see no evidence whatsoever that lobbying is within SPI's current

> >There are already lobbying organisations that exist for the purpose of
> >fighting software patents. Does SPI really need to become another?
> >
> It wouldn't hurt. EFF does not directly speak for software developers.
> We have our member projects, so we do. We are currently losing the
> political fight for Free Software, and the fight could use more hands,
> representing more different parties.

I'm not sure that that's obvious. Does having multiple groups arguing
the same general point not risk the fundamental argument being lost
amongst the less important differences? Why are you currently acting
alone, rather than in conjunction with the EFF?

> >Would this aim not be better furthered by, say, getting involved in Debian
> >instead of a separate organisation?
> >
> I gave you the social contract and it's been the right one for the
> project. The activism role belongs in SPI, and Debian's role is to be a
> member software project of SPI.

I'm sorry, I find that insulting. Nothing in the social contract defines
Debian's role with respect to SPI. It's certainly not SPI's job to
dictate to Debian whether or not it should engage in activism. Given the
number of times you've resigned for Debian, I certainly don't think that
you're in any position to try to argue what Debian's role should or
should not be.

> >And then proceeded to claim that there was a problem with the process. I'm
> >not convinced that's civil.
> >
> It was posed in civil language. John's messae sure wasn't a proper
> campaign announcement.

It clearly insinuated that due to John's criticism of you, you felt that
you couldn't trust him to run an election. Ignoring the fact that this
was entirely irrelevant (what with John not being secretary, and all),
there was no evidence whatsoever that personal opinions would influence
the performance of his duties. It was an entirely unwarranted attack,
and no matter how civil the language it was not a civil response.

> It's the law we need to concern ourselves with, since we have the power
> to change the by-laws. Under the law, we are required to have one board
> meeting per year. At that time, we'd delegate an Operating Committee
> composed of the board members, which would do its business via email.
> And we'd repeat that every year. Simple, and legal.

Of course, changing the by-laws would require convincing people that
mail was a better alternative to IRC. It's not obvious that you'd win.
If you didn't, and if meetings continued to be held on IRC, what would
your response be?

Matthew Garrett | mjg59(at)srcf(dot)ucam(dot)org


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