Author:Alex Newson
Position:Solicitor, Experian, member of the Editorial Committee
Editorial 51
Alex Newson
(a) Solicitor, Experian, member of the Editorial Committee
DOI: 10.5033/ifosslr.v5i2.95
Editorial for Issue 2, Volume 5
Welcome to Issue 2 Volume 5 of IFOSSLR.
As with previous issues of IFOSSLR, this issue covers variety of FOSS subjects, showing the
diversity of the open/free paradigm and our collective desire to analyse and address the issues
raised by our eclectic mix of activities. Core FOSS legal subjects such as licence terms are covered,
but other articles here also illustrate that, whilst there has been an encouraging take-up of FOSS in
many countries, significant barriers continue to hinder the adoption of FOSS and the broader
open/free movement. These articles demonstrate that there are a range of ways and means to
overcome these barriers.
One of the worlds largest, most populous, countries, China is a place where organisations from
across the world send the details of their closely guarded intellectual property rights, to be turned into
products for worldwide sale. Despite this, the country is closely associated with IP rights
infringement. Whilst continuing to thrive on developing products based upon licensed, closed,
intellectual property rights, Chinas policymakers are turning their attention to open source, for
example with the Bureau of Culture installing Red Flag Linux in internet cafés. Given these factors,
those of us interested in intellectual property and FOSS could do with understanding China better.
We are therefore grateful to James Saxton for his informative article on the interaction between
FOSS licenses and Chinas developing stance on intellectual property laws and standards. Could
FOSS and FOSS licensing present a powerful opportunity for Chinas leaders to both show their
respect for intellectual property laws and enhance their economy at the same time?
Another country getting to grips with FOSS at a policy-level is Turkey. Hüseyin Tolus article
explores the FOSS issues faced by Turkey with great insight. Similar to Red Flag Linux in China,
policymakers in Turkey supported the development of Pardus, a Linux distribution. Pardus Linux has
now been in distribution for 10 years and there are two separate distros. One Turkish public body
solely uses FOSS. As well as these developments, the Turkish government-backed E-Transformation
Program has issued guidelines directing Turkish public bodies to favour the use of FOSS. Despite all
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52 Editorial
of this, Tolu makes it clear that FOSS remains a defiantly minority interest in Turkey. Why is this?
On a related note, readers may be aware of the adoption of FOSS in Europe by various public bodies.
Gijs Hillenius delves into this in an article that sweeps across the EU, providing clarity about the level
of FOSS adoption by public bodies in a range of countries, as well as considering central institutions
such as the European Commission, and how FOSS-friendly their policies are. Like Tolus article, Gijs
Hillenius does not shy away from practicalities such as vendor lock-in and persuading users of the
benefits of moving from familiar closed interfaces and formats to the open but unfamiliar.
Hillenius and Tolus articles will be of significant interest to both policymakers and those seeking to
influence organisations about FOSS, as well as those interested in public procurement laws.
The European Commission has gone several steps beyond being simply FOSS-friendly. In January
2007, it launched the European Union Public Licence (EUPL), a licence drafted to not only give
software freedoms, but also to address the needs of public bodies across the EU, such as having legal
instruments that work in all official EU languages. Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz article discusses this
licence, its origins, present and possible future. In a FOSS-world of continuing licence proliferation
and compatibility issues, Schmitz observes that the EUPL offers us a compromise between copyleft
and licence interoperability. Schmitz article gives us a greater understanding of this licence, and what
the future may hold for it.
One barrier facing many (theoretically) FOSS-friendly organisations is identifying licences applicable
to software components. If it takes a team of developers and lawyers to achieve this for each FOSS
package, then the use of FOSS becomes a resource issue. The Software Package Data Exchange®
(SPDX) project aims to reduce this barrier. The Linux Foundation announced the launch of SPDX to
the legal community in IFOSSLR in 2010, and so many readers will be familiar with it. In this issue,
we are brought up to date by Jilayne Lovejoy, Phil Odence and Scott Lamons, all of whom have
played significant roles in the development of SPDX. SPDX has much to offer for organisations
looking to bring certainty, speed and clarity to their use and development of FOSS. We all have the
opportunity to contribute to the on-going development of SPDX, to make it as effective as possible
for all our communities and organisations. We hope that you will join the SPDX community and aid
its development.
Whilst project names may at first seem to be a less weighty issue than those discussed above, the
name of a FOSS project can have a major impact on its success. Many well-known FOSS projects are
not known simply for the quality of their code, but also because they use strong, recognisable, names.
Firefox is a good example, as is Linux itself; the Linux Foundation even has its own trade mark
licensing and enforcement body. Whilst the FOSS world may have some strong trade marks, the
structure of many FOSS projects can raise potential issues when those projects wish to protect or
enforce their trade mark. In Who owns the project name?, Pamela Chestek explores these issues
as found under US law, and suggests various solutions. The article will be extremely useful to all
those who run FOSS projects.
In previous issues of IFOSSLR, we have seen analysis and opinion on aspects of the broader open
movement, such as open standards. In this issue, Kari Kärkkäinen reviews Thoughts on Open
Innovation, a book edited by Shane Coughlan, one of the founding coordinators of IFOSSLR, and
launched at the Digital Agenda Summit earlier this year. In the book, a selection of experts explore a
range of open subjects, including the open innovation concept, open standards and the
commercialisation of FOSS, and discuss practical examples. We commend readers to this review and,
of course, the book itself, which is available to view and download free-of-charge (under an
International Free and Open Source Software Law Review Vol. 5, Issue 2
Editorial 53
appropriately open licence!)
About the author
Alex Newson is a solicitor at Experian and a member of the Editorial Committee of this law review.
International Free and Open Source Software Law Review Vol. 5, Issue 2
Licence and Attribution
This paper was published in the International Free and Open Source Software Law
Review, Volume 5, Issue 2 (December 2013). It originally appeared online at
This article should be cited as follows:
Newson, Alex (2013) 'Editorial', International Free and Open Source Software Law
Review, 5(2), pp 51 54
Copyright © 2013 Alex Newson.
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons UK (England and Wales) 2.0 licence,
no derivative works, attribution, CC-BY-ND available at
As a special exception, the author expressly permits faithful translations of the entire
document into any language, provided that the resulting translation (which may include
an attribution to the translator) is shared alike. This paragraph is part of the paper, and
must be included when copying or translating the paper.