[FOSDEM] Call for Participation: Legal and Policy Issues DevRoom at FOSDEM 2020
tmarble at info9.net
Tue Oct 8 22:16:34 CET 2019
Call For Participation
Legal and Policy Issues DevRoom at FOSDEM 2020
CONFERENCE DATE: Saturday & Sunday 1-2 February 2020 in Brussels, Belgium
DEVROOM DATE: Saturday 1 February 2020
CFP DEADLINE: Sunday 17 November 2019 at 23:59 AoE (Anywhere on Earth)
SPEAKERS NOTIFIED: Sunday 24 November 2019 (on or before)
Quick CFP Overview (TL;DR)
Hackers, developers, contributors and lawyers alike are encouraged to
submit on any FOSS-related policy or legal topic. What's NEW this year
is that in addition to talks we are also hoping to host lively debates
and some live collaboration (think unconference) sessions. A great way
to understand many sides of an issues is debate, and we're adding
debates this year as an official part of the agenda in our DevRoom!
Submit to one or more of:
1. Debate position: pro/con
Please enter a "talk" proposal with the prefix "DEBATE: " followed
by the debate topic. In the abstract, state your position. Include
all relevant affiliations in your bio ("Person" description in
Pentabarf). Submitting for a debate means you are willing to be
(part of) the team representing your position. You may propose
participating in a debate position that you do not necessarily
agree with but would enjoy arguing for. Possible debate topics
include (but feel free to propose your own):
* Are open source "sustainability" solutions the answer or a trap?
* Are venture capital funded enterprises helping FOSS?
* Have companies destroyed FOSS in the name of the community?
* Are corporate GPLv2 cure commitments helpful?
* Should FOSS licenses be enforced at all? What means are acceptable if so?
* Do FOSS compliance companies have a pernicious effect on FOSS?
* Are open source trade associations a menace or simply a natural
evolution for FOSS?
* Should FOSS licenses be designed to advance general public policy or
* Should upstream projects be responsible for handling backporting of
* Do contributors deserve the right to hold their own copyrights, or should
their employers have them?
* Do patent non-aggression pacts stabilize FOSS or distract from the
fundamental scourge of software patenting?
* Do the existing Free Software Definition and Open Source Definitions
serve the needs of the public?
* Should for-profit companies be licensing authorities?
* Bill of Materials for FOSS: does this actually help with compliance issues?
The organizers ask that submitters strive to overcome any shyness
or nervousness about participating in a debate. We realize it is an
unprecedented format for FOSS conferences, but we believe it will
breathe new life into discussions on FOSS policy topics, and we
also believe it will be a lot of fun. Please join us in this
We will collate submissions and join people up on topics they wish
to debate and get everyone in touch for plenty of pre-event prep.
Debates will be moderated by one of the organizers.
2. Talk proposal
We seek proposals for 25 minute talks that address issues of
software freedom project policies and legal issues that extend
beyond and/or are orthogonal to technical issues faced by projects.
For ideas about talk topics see the background information below.
3. Collaboration Topic
Please enter a "talk" proposal with the prefix "COLLAB: " followed
by the collaboration topic from below (or suggest a new one)
Submitting for a collaboration topic means you would like to actively
participate in this topic.
* How can we give users standing in free/open software/hardware?
How can we motivate end users to care about FOSS if
they can't express their preference? What tools do we have beyond
the "court of public opinion"? Can we invent a NEW legal hack?
* Extensions of FOSS principles to other domains (e.g. hardware, data)
have not enjoyed the success of the software domain:
what could we do better?
* How can the myriad of governance organizations better serve
You can respond to this CFP by creating a user account on Pentabarf
and creating one (or more) talk proposals by November 17, 2019.
See details below.
Copyright law provides many of the basic legal underpinnings of Open
Source and Free Software. Patent and trademark law and legal
frameworks relating to data privacy and security also have significant
relevance to Free Software development. Governance and policies around
free software projects (beyond mere outbound licensing) set the rules
for collaboration and can be critical to a project's success.
Our community has substantial expertise in this area yet there are few
venues to discuss these matters in a forum open to all. Hackers,
developers, contributors, lawyers, policy experts, and community
leaders all possess expertise in these matters.
This DevRoom seeks proposals for three types of content: (a) 25 minute
talks, (b) debate positions, or (c) collaboration topics in an
unconference format. Sessions should address issues of software
freedom project policies and legal issues that extend beyond and/or
are orthogonal to technical issues faced by projects. Such topics
could include, but aren't necessarily limited to:
* Who controls the copyright, trademark, or patent licensing, release
plans, CLA administration, or security bug reporting policies of your
project, and why? What challenges have you faced in these policy areas
and how are you seeking to change it?
* How is your project governed? Do you have a non-profit organization,
or a for-profit company that primarily controls your project, or
neither? Do you wish your project governance was different? Who
decided your governance initially? What politics (good and bad)
have occurred around your governance choices and how have you
changed your policy? Does your project have a "shadow governance",
whereby technical governance is open and fair, but some entity has
its own opaque political structure that influences your project?
Are you worried that your project might and you don't know? Are you
exploring any new solutions for governance? Do you want to ask questions
of a room full of experts about your project's governance?
* How do ethical issues intersect with your project? How do those
issues interact with software freedom? How can we protect user's rights
in the current legal and technical landscape? Are there ways to mitigate
the hold that click through terms of service have over the average person's
use of software? Are privacy regulations like GDPR having any appreciable
impact on software freedom?
* Legal topics of all sorts and their interaction with software
freedom culture and work remain welcome, and could include: How does
your project make use of legal advice? What legal advice do you
give projects and what topics do you put first on the list to worry
about in projects? Discuss in detail a legal and/or policy issue your
project faced and how your community dealt with it. What lessons
did you learn? Are some of your developers afraid to discuss legal or
quasi-legal issues without their lawyers, or their employers' lawyers,
present? How has that impeded or helped your project? Are your
lawyers really your lawyers (e.g., do corporate lawyers for companies
in your community influence the direction of the project even though
not all contributors work for that company)?
* Contribution and engagement policies: how does your project engage
new contributors and what policy decisions did your project make to
welcome new contributors? What legal issues or policy concerns has
your project faced historically in its community engagement efforts,
and what did you learn from these experiences?
* How does money affect your community? How is funding of developers handled
in your project? What policies do you set to welcome volunteers to join a
community where most developers are paid? Does your project have policies
that forbid funding developers directly? Does reliance on volunteer labor
lead to lack of diversity since only the affluent can participate?
If you had unconstrained resources at your disposal, what would you change
about the funding structure of your project? Given the resources you have,
what have you tried to change? Have you succeeded or failed? Would more
money in the ecosystem hurt or help your project?
* How do projects handle conflicts of interest and make sure
that relevant interests of contributors are disclosed in important
decision making discussions?
* Strategies and plans for addressing harassment, exclusionary and/or
discriminatory behavior in FLOSS communities. Do you have a Code
of Conduct? Have you needed to enforce it? Was it successful in
improving behavior and diversity in your community? What strategies
do you use to you handle toxic people in your community?
* Talks on license compliance, licensing business models, and anything
akin to, or building upon, what you've seen in our DevRoom before are of
course welcome. (URLs to talks from previous years are below.)
Regarding topic relevancy, here's the only "don't": please don't propose
introductory talks; there are other venues appropriate for those.
FOSDEM is the meeting place of experts in Open Source and Free Software
project governance, law, and policy. This DevRoom is for intermediate
to advanced topics surrounding just about anything you might call a
"legal" or "policy" issue for your project!
NOTE: your topic might be an even better fit for the Community DevRoom.
We are collaborating with the Community DevRoom organizers to avoid
topic overlap and encourage you to see their CFP which will be posted
In short, proposals for this DevRoom should focus on specific policy
and legal questions in FOSS. If your proposal does not cover a
specific policy or legal issue, then the Community DevRoom may be
Should I Submit?
However, do consider that what may seem elementary to you may in fact be
an intermediate topic in this area. In particular, while we expect to receive
submissions from lawyers, we've found in our careers that non-lawyers
often know just as much (and often more) about these topics than
lawyers. Developers and other Free Software project participants who regularly
face complex policy and legal questions are strongly and particularly encouraged
to submit proposals. Historically, some of the most lively and intriguing
talks in this DevRoom's previous years have been from developers who
have been thrust (often due to circumstances beyond their control) into
dealing with legal and policy issues for Open Source and Free Software.
Look at past talks in our DevRoom for inspiration:
Separately you may be interested in Conservancy's Second Annual
Copyleft Conference which occurs the Monday after FOSDEM.
For more information please see:
If your proposal is a talk (not a debate proposal), and is related to
Copyleft please consider submitting your talk to CopyleftConf.
CFP Schedule And Submission Details
Submit proposals NO LATER THAN 17 November 2019 at 23:59 AoE
(Anywhere on Earth)
Please use the following URL to submit your talk to FOSDEM 2020:
and follow these steps:
* Select as the Track "Legal and Policy Issues devroom".
* Include a title. (Note that "Subtitle" entry doesn't appear on
all conference documents, so make sure "Title" can stand on its
own without "Subtitle" present.) Shorter and more concise is better!
* Include an Abstract of about 500 characters and a full description
of any length you wish, but in both fields, please be concise, but
clear and descriptive.
* Indicate a 25 minute time slot. If you select any other time amount,
your submission is very likely to be rejected.
* Use the "Links" sub-area to your past work in the field you'd like
to share. Particularly helpful are recordings (audio/video) of
your past talks on the subject or past papers/blog posts you've
written on the subject.
* You are encouraged to enter biographic information under the
"Person" section (e.g. you may upload an image, enter your
background in the "Description" tab, and sites of interest
under the "Links" tab).
* State that you agree to CC BY-SA-4.0 or CC BY-4.0 licensing of your
talk in the "Submission Notes" field. Add a statement such as this:
"Should my presentation be scheduled for FOSDEM 2020, I hereby
agree to license all recordings, slides and any other
materials presented under the Creative Commons Attribution
ShareAlike 4.0 International license.
* Also in the notes field, confirm your availability to speak on Saturday,
1 February 2020 in Brussels. (You may include time slots
of non-availability on Saturday, but this may negatively
affect acceptance decisions.)
Failure to follow these instructions above (and those on the FOSDEM
2020 site) may result in automatic rejection of your talk submission.
However, if you have trouble with submission via the official system,
please do contact <fosdem-legal-policy at faif.us> for assistance.
The organizers of this DevRoom are committed to increasing the
diversity of the free software movement. To that end, our CFP process
takes demographic information into account in order to build a program
that features as many different voices and perspectives as possible.
If you are comfortable doing so, please share any demographic
information about yourself in the "Submission Notes". Such disclosure
is not mandatory by any means.
No Assurance of Acceptance
The organizers (listed below) realize many of our friends and
colleagues will respond to this CFP. We welcome submissions from all,
but an invitation from any of us to submit is *not* an assurance of
acceptance. We typically must make hard decisions.
This year, our DevRoom is one day, so unfortunately we expect that
most proposals will be rejected. Please, submit your best possible
work and put effort into crafting your submission to give yourself the
best chance of acceptance.
About the DevRoom Organizers
The co-organizers of the FOSDEM 2020 Legal and Policy Issues DevRoom are
(in alphabetical order by surname):
- Richard Fontana, Senior Commercial Counsel, Red Hat
- Bradley M. Kuhn, Policy Fellow and Hacker-in-Residence at Software Freedom
- Tom Marble, Creative Technologist, Informatique, Inc.
- Karen Sandler, Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy,
pro bono counsel, Adjunct Lecturer-In-Law Columbia Law School,
Visiting Scholar/Faculty team of Center for Research in Open Source Software,
University of California Santa Cruz
You are welcome to contact us all at <fosdem-legal-policy at faif.us> with
questions about this CFP.
The content of all messages is the sole responsibility of the author.
More information about the FOSDEM