Irreconcilable Differences: Can FOSS and Software Patents coexist?



Prof. Steven Weber, author of the book, The Success of Open Source, famously said that, property in open source is configured fundamentally around the right to distribute, not the right to exclude. This is radically different from current models of intellectual property that are centered around exclusivity and the right to exclude others. FOSS community leaders like Richard Stallman have been vocal in their opposition to software patents. This talk examines the reasons and delves into the history of the patenting system, the geopolitics of patents and lets the audience decide whether FOSS and software patents can co-exist.

About the speaker

Venkatesh Hariharan

Venkatesh Hariharan (Venky) is the Public Policy Director for FOSS United, an organization that represents the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community in India and India Representative of the Open Invention Network (OIN), an organization that protects the FOSS community from patent litigation. Hariharan has 32 years of experience in journalism and public policy with organizations like Google, Red Hat, iSPIRT, Indian Express, IIIT Bangalore, and the Data Governance Network at IDFC Institute. In these roles, he has been involved in key policy issues like open source in government, open standards, software patents, Indian Language Computing, free speech on the Internet, privacy, building and evangelizing Digital Public Goods, and many others. His long term interest is in democratizing access to technology and knowledge. Hariharan was Executive Editor of Express Computer, a publication from the Indian Express Group and the first Indian to be selected for Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Knight Science Journalism Fellowship in 1998-99. At MIT, Hariharan looked at technologies that can be used to advance India’s development. Open Source Software stood out as the most powerful at a time when expensive proprietary software was the norm. On returning to India, Hariharan co-founded a non-profit called IndLinux.org and wrote an article titled, “Why Linux Makes Sense for India.” IndLinux worked with linguistic groups in India and abroad and is partly responsible for the fact that Linux desktops are now available in 17 Indian languages. Hariharan was awarded the Indian Open Source Personality of the Year award in 2006 by the organizers of the Linux Asia conference. Hariharan went on to serve as Corporate Affairs Director of Red Hat (Asia Pacific) from 2004 to 2011 and as head of Public Policy and Government Affairs for Google India from 2011-2012. He also served as Director Fintech for iSPIRT and set up the Omidyar funded Data Governance Network at IDFC Institute. He has extensive connections across industry, academia and government in India and abroad. Hariharan’s writings on technology ann open source can be seen at the following links: www.venkytech.medium.com https://opensource.com/users/venky www.osindia.blogspot.com

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