Re: Comments on Voting Project

From: Alan Dechert <adechert_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Sun Aug 17 2003 - 15:05:30 CDT

I agree with all 12 points (I am glad there were 12) Arthur has written.

I did not think that GPL could be written into the proposal. Partly, my
[incorrect] reasoning was based on one a discussion with Karin McDonald of
UCB's Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS). She felt UC would be more
demanding. I did not really get into this subject with Director Bruce Cain.

On point #10: In our 2 May 2001 proposal, we (Prof. Henry Brady, Dir of the
Survey Research Center) explicitly wrote in non-University employees as
consultants. In fact, around half the money (~$425,000) would have gone to
those consultants. That was a different funding strategy entirely, of
course, as it was supposed to become a line-item in the state budget. I
suppose NSF projects would have different requirements.

That said, I'm not sure we should put all our eggs in the NSF basket. Let's
try for other funding sources as well.

Alan Dechert

----- Original Message -----
From: "Arthur Keller" <arthur@kellers.org>
To: <voting-project@lists.sonic.net>
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2003 12:16 AM
Subject: [voting-project] Comments on Voting Project

> I have been busy with a deadline on Friday night, so I am just now
> catching up on the discussion.
>
> Here are my personal comments and suggestions.
>
> 1. I suggest that the demo software be GPL.
>
> 2. Everyone doing work on this demo project is doing so as a volunteer.
>
> 3. Time people have spent in the past is a sunk cost. There is the
> potential for getting paid to do work in the future, but there is no
> obligation to reimburse people for work done in the past.
>
> 4. There is potential for raising money for developing production
> grade software. I have offered to lead the effort of submitting an
> NSF proposal.
>
> 5. In such an NSF proposal or other fundraising proposals, there is
> the potential for declaring as part of the proposal text the type of
> licensing terms. If we want the results of such a project to be GPL,
> we can write that into the NSF proposal, and such a writing would be
> binding on the University of California or any other institution that
> participated. I would be in favor of making such a declaration.
>
> 6. I am in favor of hiring Alan Dechert to work on the NSF-funded
> project, and that is justifiable because of his expertise. He would
> then get paid for his actual work on the project based on his
> expertise, which he obtained through years of volunteer work. If I
> lead the effort to write a proposal to the NSF, I will propose
> including Alan in an appropriate role.
>
> 7. There is the potential for any number of organizations being
> formed to support boards of elections and the like and using the open
> source GPL software developed as part of an NSF-funded project. This
> is akin to Red Hat (and competitors) for Linux. It is also akin to
> Cygnus, which was a company that provided tech support for open
> source software (before it's acquisition).
>
> 8. The faculty, students, and staff working on the NSF-funded project
> would get paid for their time, as is usual practice at Universities.
> They would not have intellectual property rights to the software,
> since that would be GPL, according to my proposal above.
>
> 9. When the demo is completed, we would collectively decide what to
> do next. We do not know how much rework, redesign, etc., would be
> needed. We don't yet know how useful that software would be for the
> development of the production version.
>
> 10. Those people who worked on the demo might be able to continue
> volunteering with the NSF-funded project. However it is most likely
> that only those employed by an institution participating in the
> proposal could actually get paid. I don't want to rule anything out
> in terms of participation at this point.
>
> 11. As someone who has served as an expert witness on patent
> infringement cases, I think I know a fair amount about intellectual
> property. There are several types of IP: patent, trademark,
> copyright, and trade secret. At this point, there is no patentable
> invention. Alan's web publications may preclude anyone from filing a
> patent application on this topic. And we should collectively write
> publications to preclude others from filing patents and to
> acknowledge our collective work on this project. I do not know that
> there have been any trademarks asserted. There are no (tm) labels
> that I've seen in any messages. I for one won't lead a proposal
> effort that uses a trademarked name. There is a copyright on each
> and every writing that we do. There is not even the need to assert
> copyright, due to the Bern Copyright Convention several decades ago.
> But copyright is on the expression of an idea, not the idea itself.
> What's in each of our heads that we have not yet disclosed is a trade
> secret. Everything we've written down and disclosed is not a trade
> secret. I hope it is clear from this discourse that the primary IP
> that Alan (or anyone in this group) has is copyright. Like the
> software, I propose that any documentation and other written
> materials for this project also be GPL.
>
> 12. My comments on the above are not to say that Alan doesn't have
> some moral authority from having devoted countless hours to this
> effort. But that moral authority is earned and not legal. Just as
> any moral authority I have is from the respect that are given to me
> as a result of my efforts on this project and elsewhere.
>
> I think it is important for each of us to understand the nature of
> intellectual property on this project, the future direction we
> contemplate, and whether any of us intends to make money off of this
> effort. Those of us who volunteer need to know if their efforts will
> go to line someone else's pocket.
>
> My vision for the NSF-funded project is to have something that has
> the impact of Berkeley UNIX, but under a more favorable (to the
> public) licensing scheme.
>
> Arthur
> --
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----
> Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4507
> tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:11 2003

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