[FOSDEM] CfP for Legal and Policy Issues DevRoom at FOSDEM 2024
Karen M. Sandler
karen at sfconservancy.org
Thu Nov 16 03:52:54 UTC 2023
Call For Participation
Legal and Policy Issues DevRoom at FOSDEM 2024
CONFERENCE DATE: Saturday & Sunday 3-4 February 2024 in person in
DEVROOM DATE: Saturday 3 February 2024
CFP DEADLINE: Monday 11 December 2023 at 23:59 AoE (Anywhere on
SPEAKERS NOTIFIED: Thursday 21 December 2023 (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 or panels 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
You can respond to this CFP by going to
and creating one (or more) talk proposals by 11 December 2023.
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 or panels.
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 your project, and why? What challenges have you
faced in these policy areas and how are you seeking to change
* 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 it make sense
to separate the technical and organizational governance of a
project and are there any deep implications of that choice? 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 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
* 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
* 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 behavior in your
* 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 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
receive submissions from lawyers, we've found 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
Look at past talks in our DevRoom for inspiration:
CFP Schedule And Submission Details
Submit proposals NO LATER THAN 11 December 2023 at 23:59 AoE
(Anywhere on Earth)
Please use the following URL to submit your talk to FOSDEM 2024:
and follow these steps:
* Select as the Track "Legal and Policy Issues devroom".
* Include a title. Shorter and more concise is better!
* Include an Abstract of about 500 characters and a full description
of any length you wish, but please be concise, clear and descriptive.
* Indicate a 30 or 50 minute time slot. We will likely reserve 50
minute time slots for panels.
* 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
"Should my presentation be scheduled for FOSDEM 2023, I hereby
agree to license all recordings, slides and any other
materials presented under the Creative Commons Attribution
ShareAlike 4.0 International license.
* In the availability section, please add your availability to speak in
person on Saturday, 4 February 2023.
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 2023 Legal and Policy Issues DevRoom
are(in alphabetical order by surname):
- Matthias Kirschner, President, Free Software Foundation Europe
- Bradley M. Kuhn, Policy Fellow and Hacker-in-Residence at Software
- Alexander Sander, FSFE Senior Policy Consultant
- Karen M. Sandler, Executive Director of the Software Freedom
Conservancy, Lecturer In Law Columbia Law School
- Tom Marble, Chief Technology Officer, Informatique, Inc.
You are welcome to contact us all at <fosdem-legal-policy at faif.us>
with questions about this CFP.
More information about the FOSDEM