Re: More on democracy and transparency

From: Alan Dechert <adechert_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Sat Aug 16 2003 - 19:24:46 CDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Skip Montanaro" <skip_at_pobox_dot_com>
To: <voting-project@lists.sonic.net>
Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2003 3:36 PM
Subject: Re: More on democracy and transparency

>
> Alan> The demo has no commercialization potential.
>
> Alan,
>
> I'm sorry, I don't see how you can say that with any confidence at this
> point. You have an October timeframe for the EVM demo. Can you say with
> 100% confidence that nothing in UCVS will reuse any of the requirements,
> design or code used to develop the demo? All of that is at least
> copyrightable.
>
You have a point. There could be some pieces developed by team members
(other than me) that could be folded into the production system. I have
published, in various places, many of the details (although no software
code) about how the system is supposed to work

> Letting UC have the patent/copyright rights to the demo
> seems very short-sighted.
>
This is an interesting comment and maybe Arthur or Doug can clarify. EVM
doesn't necessarily have anything to do with UC and I don't see why you
think we are giving "patent/copyright rights to the demo" to UC. It's a
little funny since I wanted to post Matt's first bit of code with the name
"UCVS-demo" -- something like that. Arthur objected and while he conceded
that it was alright to use "UCVS" we dropped it. The demo became "EVM."

The only relation of the demo to UC is that we currently plan to have the
web based version of the demo software running on a server at UC Santa Cruz.
Does this raise patent/copyright issues? I don't know. If it unnecessarily
binds us to UC, then maybe we should plan to use a server off campus.

> It's quite likely they'll just relicense the rights to another
> Diebold equivalent. Then where will this all be?
>
I don't get that sense from UC administration. But this is a question for
the larger project (UCVS), not the demo. The demo simply won't have
anywhere near the features of real voting software.

> You clearly have a lot invested in this project at this point,
financially,
> professionally and emotionally. Unless you did all the work up to this
> point for the University of California (in which case they already have a
> strong claim to it), I can't see they've done anything to deserve to own
it.
> Maybe it's just because I don't know the history.
>
I don't think they have a claim on it. I suppose they could make some claim
if they really wanted to, but I don't think they will. The main argument
they could make, I think, is that significant value was added to the
proposal when Henry Brady signed on. Henry added value to the proposal in
at least two ways, 1) content, and 2) promotion.

If you want to see the additions in content, you could look at the all the
stuff I have written before April of 2001. Then look at the 2 May 2001
proposal I co-authored with Henry. In fact, Henry made valuable additions
to the project design -- not much directly related to voting machine
software, but important nonetheless. They could also say that my idea was
going nowhere before I teamed up with Brady. I was just a crank with an
idea but when Brady joined the idea got wide exposure (at least it became
known to Political Scientists and people involved in voting modernization).

Then again, neither Henry Brady nor Chancellor Berdahl have done much of
anything to promote the project (to my knowledge) since around Jan of 2002.
In the most recent correspondence I have from Berdahl (just last month,
BTW), he refers to the project as "your project." Brady has also recently
called it "your project." I have gotten to know Brady and Berdahl and
consider them two of the best people on planet earth -- I can't imagine them
doing anything contrary to the spirit of the project. They tried to help
get it funded but in both cases there were limitations and many competing
projects to worry about.

> Has anyone patented the idea of an electronic voting system with a paper
> trail used to audit the results? ....
>
I think so, yes. Populex is probably patented. But it's still a different
system. There's a lot more to our proposed system than just an electronic
voting machine with a paper trail. Avante and others sell DREs with
printers. I think the Avante system is something like $5,000.

> If not, maybe now would be a good time to
> file the application. That should be worth a lot more than you have
> invested in the project so far.
>
We're talking about a system that does not look attractive to someone
applying for a patent, I think. The hardware is off the shelf generic PC
stuff while the software is proposed to be publicy owned -- or at least
owned by a non-profit or educational institution. I just don't see why
anyone would want to patent such a thing. How would the patent holder
expect to make money from it? You can't stop other people from using PCs as
voting machines because you have a patent.

Alan

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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:10 2003

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