I intended to blog about this when I saw the FFII news last week, but school got in the way. Anyway, Mark having expanded on it a bit gives me another chance. I’m pleased that Ubuntu/Canonical are getting more active on the patent front, announcing that they’ll actively support Nouveau, and helping create a Free Ubuntu. These are good steps, and I’m glad Ubuntu is taking them. In particular, the idea of directly funding European lobbying on the patent issue is a good one (as distasteful as lobbying is), and I think it would be a great way for other participants in the game to make it clear that they’re on the right page. Similarly, the decision to put off proprietary drivers for six months, while not as permanent/strong as I would hope, gives Nouveau and other such driver projects some more breathing room, and puts a slight bit of additional pressure on Nvidia and ATI to think about following Intel’s lead and free all their drivers.
I’m still uncomfortable with a lot of what Canonical/Ubuntu does in this space (apparent sense that gratis is more important than libre, bragging when moving people from libre tools to gratis ones, lack of formal patent policy a la Fedora) but we should all give them huge thanks and due credit for taking this particular important step in the right direction.
6 thoughts on “Canonical: putting money where mouth is, credit where credit is due, all that.”
In particular, the idea of directly funding European lobbying on the patent issue is a good one (as distasteful as lobbying is),
I find this attitude sort of depressing. What’s distateful about encouraging your elected representatives to do the right thing on an important issue? Further, should they all just sit in a room and legislate without talking to people? If we as a community find lobbying distateful, we’re just going to lose.
Lobbying is distasteful because the implicit premise of lobbying is that only those who can afford lobbyists have ‘earned’ a role in the political process. I didn’t say we shouldn’t do it, though; I very explicitly said it was a good idea, which somehow you overlooked despite it being in the same sentence as my comment about distaste. :)
I don’t think I accused you of advocating not lobbying, which as you point out would be silly, since you explicitly advocated lobbying.
However, I’m still having trouble imagining what you think the political process should look like. Should people not advocate for their proposed policies? Should hiring people to do this particular job be disallowed, or frowned upon? The insider dealing and corruption that currently occurs isn’t something anyone should be happy about, but it seems like you’re implicitly suggesting something more radical.
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My problem is not necessarily with hiring people, per se, but rather with the laziness it creates in the political class. Much easier to sit on your ass and have lobbyists bring (slanted) information to you than (god forbid) one hire people to do the research for you, perhaps talking not just to those who can afford to hire lobbyists but also to those who cannot. It isn’t a particularly radical vision, just a vision where legislators spend time/effort researching instead of expecting it all to come to them on a gilded and tilted platter.
There is no great way to force this to happen, of course; as I think we’ve seen with the last round of campaign finance reform, money will make itself heard no matter what. But just because I don’t see any other particularly palatable options doesn’t make the model we’ve got any more pleasant/acceptable.
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