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Archive for April, 2011

A Spring Quote

“Dare to be yourself.”

–André Gide,
French author

A good friend sent me this and it struck me in its powerful simplicity.  So much packed in there!  I thought it was especially apropos during spring when so much new life is blooming and opportunities for growth abound.

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Today I had the pleasure of being invited to a roundtable discussion with Victoria Espinel.

Ms. Espinel is the head of IP Enforcement for the White House.  Sounds like a really interesting job:  parsing out the priorities of the US in this space and then implementing those priorities both domestically at places like the PTO and externally in our diplomatic relations with other countries.

I was one of 10 attorneys at the event able to ask any question or provide whatever input I found compelling.  That is a really cool experience for any policy wonk or law geek, especially here in the Valley, where we don’t get to rub elbows with Washington elite every day.

First off, I applaud the fact that Ms. Espinel is out seeking input and providing transparency on the efforts of her office.  I found her quite forthcoming and open, particularly for a government executive.  In response to my introduction stating that I was at Mozilla, she noted the Obama Administration’s public statement from CIO Vivek Kundra in January that IT procurement should be neutral, neither favoring nor disfavoring proprietary or open source software.    The administration clearly felt this was a big step and in the U.S. it frankly  is.  It did strike me though how in the EU (most recently in the UK) open source sometimes fares a bit better than neutrality.   Of course, some of my favorite stories about governments and open source have involved Mozilla products, like when French authorities bought USB sticks to distribute Firefox and Thunderbird to tens of thousands of French students.

As for issues of the open web and ip enforcement, I was personally encouraged to hear Ms. Espinel state that she doesn’t see a conflict between ip enforcement goals and ensuring an open web.  However, I was surprised to hear that her office isn’t getting much input that regimes like the DMCA need rebalancing to ensure that hosts and individual creators aren’t unduly disadvantaged.  So here’s hoping that those of us here in the Valley do get the chance to keep rubbing elbows with the likes of Ms. Espinel.

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