Following a call for submissions from the Israeli Patent Authority, the Israeli Free Software Society, Hamakor, submitted a memorandum calling for the annulment of the Software Patents. A Memorandum drafted by Adv. Jonathan J. Klinger, Hamakor’s chief legal counsel, presented a tough and strict approach claiming that software patents harm innovation and incur high legal costs on software developers.
“protecting software through patents shall provide protection on ideas, which are usually expressible in more than one manner, and shall be the beginning to a race to the bottom where every person shall register as many patents possible and incur high costs on each player in the software field”, said Klinger, and added that “the chilling effect created by the fear of using software protected by patents, be it free software or proprietary software, and incur costs on the system solely in order to purchase insurance from the theoretical patent infringement. In such case, any independent development of software without legal assistance from the first day of development shall be problematic, and deter developers from developing free software or promote innovation”.
Until recently, the Israeli patent authority rejected Software Patents and provided protection only regarding hardware (in re Eli Tamir). However, the recent call for submissions had raised the fear that software patents shall be used to deter innovation.
Currently, Israeli venture capital funds and technology evangelists often see patents as the core asset when protecting software companies from competition, which creates a race to the bottom that requires startups and innovative companies to register patents in order to raise funds. Hamakor presents, in its memorandum, a new approach focusing on people and not patents, as the core asset of the Israeli Innovation.
On January 10th the Hebrew wikipedia got its 100,000th entry. The event will be celebrated on the coming weekend by a members meeting.
This achievement is quite remarkable for a language with less than 10 million speakers, from which about 3.5 million are native speakers (data taken from the Hebrew wikipedia).
- Time to start working again on my Debian packages.
- To succeed with inserting free software to the Israeli Education system.
- To make a step forward with free software in Israel though Hamakor
- To visit DebConf in August (missed the last two conferences).
As part of August Penguin 2009, Mozilla Israel members Tomer Cohen and Tsahi Asher had a stand for promoting Firefox, web standards and other free software from Mozilla.
Mozilla Israel stand @ August Penguin 2009
The stand was crowded during most of the conference with people coming to talk or ask questions. The visitors enjoyed getting Firefox stickers/pins and web standards bracelets thanks to a shipment of the giveaways from abroad.
The party hats were used to make the August Penguin key signing party to look like a party (:
August Penguin 2009 Key Party
I’ll be happy to see more support for the local Israeli chapter of other projects, so we could have more stands like that in the next August Penguin.
If you can read Hebrew, you’ll find the original story at “איך עושים גן בקוד פתוח“. Otherwise, you’re welcome to read the post.
Vitali Perchonok was asked to check the computer is his city of Kiryat Gat, he found a lot of old PCs (P1 and P2) with windows 98 and DOS games that don’t work. He decided to find a way to use the computers with open source software.
He found that he can run Gcompris, an educational software suite comprising of numerous activities for children aged 2 to 10, on the old computers. Now he just needs to update the Hebrew translation (last updated at 2005). Along side the translation he fixed bugs, recorded new sounds and replaced some of the graphics (all with the help of a few friends).
To wrap it all, he decided to create a liveCD for the program, and this was the beginning of KG-Live. The changes were sent upstream and should be included in the next release.
Today, the project waits for approval from the Israeli Ministry of Education, before distributing the software officially to the kindergartens.
What is common to The Gimp, Python, Inkscape, SVN and Ubuntu ? They are all part of Big Buck Bunny‘s subtitles. I was very amused finding free software programs/projects in the subtitles (although expected in an open source movie).
Except from the result of a funny movie, one of the things I like the most about the Peach project (and the Orange project who proceeded it), is the idea of developing the software in parallel to the creation of the movie and for the movie by adding missing capabilities or features.
I’ve seen some of the new developments (mostly the particle engine) in Shlomi Israel’s lecture (in Hebrew) about Blender during August Penguin, and I really been impressed. Especially since I first heard about the new capabilities, and got a demonstration and only them saw the movie and understood where the particle engine was used.
I’ve also seen similar behavior in my community by Guy Sheffer who developed two small tools for Cinelerra during the editing of the August Penguin videos.
To conclude, I think there is room for similar projects in other areas for free software. Although a movie production is something non-technical people can understand, other projects can also select simple (but ambitious) objectives.
Defining to where you want to go, or where you want to be is an important part of getting there. This might sound trivial, but a lot of people aren’t sure about the big picture of what they’re doing. That’s way I’m so happy to see such projects succeeding in fulfilling their objectives.
In the last two months I’ve been less active regarding free software as life keep me busy with other stuff. Nerver the less I’ve been able to help with orginizing August Penguin – the annual Israeli free software conference (happening the 7th time in a row).
The conference takes half a day and occurs on the first Friday of August. This year we’re back to a two track conference with a tehcnical and non-technical tracks. Each track has 5 lectures, 30 min. each.
Non technical track:
This year with also have ISOC-IL, Microsoft (yes, you’re reading correctly) and Sun as sponsors (and a few smaller companies). Cool to have the “big boys” helping.
As I found out more and more open source people from around the world in Israel, I thought it will be a good idea to write about the conference and invite them. Please be aware that the lectures are in Hebrew. But you can also come to meet the community and talk with the people or take part in our GPG signing party. More info (in Hebrew) at http://august.penguin.org.il and in Facebook’s event info.