[FOSDEM] Call for Participation: Legal & Policy Issues DevRoom at FOSDEM 2021
Karen M. Sandler
karen at sfconservancy.org
Tue Dec 8 03:08:29 UTC 2020
Call For Participation
Legal and Policy Issues DevRoom at FOSDEM 2021
CONFERENCE DATE: Saturday & Sunday 6-7 February 2021 in Brussels,
DEVROOM DATE: Saturday 6 February 2021
CFP DEADLINE: Sunday 20 December 2020 at 23:59 AoE (Anywhere on
SPEAKERS NOTIFIED: Sunday 5 January 2021 (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.
We seek proposals for 30 or 50 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.
You can respond to this CFP by creating a user account on Pentabarf
and creating one (or more) talk proposals by 20 December 2020.
See details below.
Copyright law provides many of the basic legal underpinnings of 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. Also
governments, institutions and administrations increasingly rely on
Free Software and regulate and govern this area.
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 30 or 50 minute talks. 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 and government regulations. Such topics could include, but
aren't necessarily limited to:
* What legislation should we be watching, what has been recently
enacted, and what coming soon? What effect could these have on
* Who controls the copyright, trademark, or patent licensing, release
plans, CLA administration, or security bug reporting policies of
project, and why? What challenges have you faced in these policy
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?
* 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
project faced and how your community dealt with it. What lessons
did you learn? Are some of your developers afraid to discuss legal
quasi-legal issues without their lawyers, or their employers'
present? How has that impeded or helped your project? Are your
lawyers really your lawyers (e.g., do corporate lawyers for
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
in your project? What policies do you set to welcome volunteers to
community where most developers are paid? Does your project have
that forbid funding developers directly? Does reliance on volunteer
lead to lack of diversity since only the affluent can participate?
If you had unconstrained resources at your disposal, what would you
about the funding structure of your project? Given the resources
what have you tried to change? Have you succeeded or failed? Would
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
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 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 or software freedom!
Should I Submit?
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
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
face complex policy and legal questions are strongly and particularly
to submit proposals. Historically, some of the most lively and
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 Free Software.
Look at past talks in our DevRoom for inspiration:
CFP Schedule And Submission Details
Submit proposals NO LATER THAN 20 December 2020 at 23:59 AoE
(Anywhere on Earth)
Please use the following URL to submit your talk to FOSDEM 2021:
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 30 or 50 minute time slot. If you select any other time
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 2021, 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, 6 February 2021. (Please indicate any challenges you
may have with respect to your availability to present during the
European time zone.)
Failure to follow these instructions above (and those on the FOSDEM
2021 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. We appreciate
the effort you put into crafting your submission to give yourself the
best chance of acceptance.
About the DevRoom Organizers
The co-organizers of the FOSDEM 2021 Legal and Policy Issues DevRoom are
(in alphabetical order by surname):
- Richard Fontana, Senior Commercial Counsel, Red Hat
- Matthias Kirschner, President, Free Software Foundation Europe
- Bradley M. Kuhn, Policy Fellow and Hacker-in-Residence at Software
- Alexander Sander, FSFE Policy Coordinator
- Karen M. Sandler, Executive Director of the Software Freedom
Adjunct Lecturer-In-Law Columbia Law School
You are welcome to contact us all at <fosdem-legal-policy at faif.us>
questions about this CFP.
More information about the FOSDEM