October 23, 2002

Washington State Congressman attempts to outlaw GPL

An anonymous reader writes: "Leaders of the New Democrat Coalition attempt to outlaw GPL. A call to sign off on explicit rejection of "licenses that would prevent or
discourage commercial adoption of promising cyber security technologies developed
through federal R & D." has been issued by Adam Smith, Congressman for the Ninth
District in the State of Washington.

It's already signed off on by Rep. Tom Davis(R-Va), Chairman of Government
Reform Subcomittee on Technology, and Rep. Jim Turner (D-TX) Ranking Member
of the same committee, with the backing of Rep. Jim Davis (D-FL), and
Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI).

It's a note to fellow New Democrats under the guise of protecting commercial
interest's right to make money from the fruits of federal R & D, and to sign
off on an attached letter to Richard A. Clarke, Chair of the President's
Critical Infrastructure.

They are attempting to convince Clarke, Chair of the President's that licensing
terms such as "those in the GNU or GPL" are restrictive, preclude innovation,
improvement, adoption and establishment of commercial IP rights.

Let's take a look at the highlights:

1) They use the Internet, by virtue of TCP/IP, as "proof" of their thesis.
2) They state that you cannot improve OR adopt OR commercialize GPL software.
3) They state that you cannot integrate GPL'd software with proprietery software.
4) They say you should keep publicly funded code away from the public sector,
so that proprietary interests can make money from the work.
5) They equate a lack of understanding of the GPL with valid reasoning against it.

In essence, that non-proprietary interests should not be allowed to use,
adopt, improve, or make money from the work. That taxpayers should pay for it twice. And that nobody should be able to stop
commercial
entities from taking publicly funded code, they will then close off.

Write or fax each of the Congressmen mentioned as supporting this, and
let them know they have been given bad information and that categorically
anti-opensource and anti-GPL stance will be reflected at voting time:

Rep. Jim Davis
424 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3376
Fax: (202) 225-5652
Webmail: http://www.house.gov/jimdavis/message.html

Rep. Tom Davis
306 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4611
Phone: (202) 225-1492
Fax: (202) 225-3071

Rep. Ron Kind
1713 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: 202.225.5506
Fax: 202.225.5739

Rep. Adam Smith
116 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: 202-225-8901
Fax: 202-225-5893
E-Mail: http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/contact/contact.htm l

Rep. Jim Turner
208 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2401
Fax: (202) 225-5955

For those without e-mail listed, email them at:
http://www.house.gov/writerep/

Here's the note to the New Democrats from Smith, Kind and J. Davis:

Support Innovation in Cybersecurity -- Sign The Attached Dear Colleague

Deadline: Friday, October 18th

Dear New Democrat Colleague:

Attached is a letter that is being sent to Dick Clarke, the Chair of the
President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board. As he shapes the
"National Strategy"on cybersecurity, it is important to affirm that
government R&D should be made available under intellectual property
licenses that allow for further development and commercialization of
that work. Licenses such as the General Public License (GPL) are
problematic and threaten to undermine innovation and security. I urge
you to sign this letter.

As you know, the basis of the Internet - the TCP/IP protocol - is a
result of federal R&D efforts at DARPA. The advancement and
commercialization of this research provided significant economic growth
as well as gains in productivity and efficiency.

Public-private partnerships have been hallmarks of technological
innovation and government has played a positive role in fostering
innovation by allowing the private sector to develop commercial products
from the results of publicly funded research. As such it is important
that the National Strategy reject any licenses that would prevent or
discourage commercial adoption of promising cybersecurity technologies
developed through federal R&D.

The terms of restrictive license's - such as those in the GNU or GPL -
prevent companies from adopting, improving, commercializing and deriving
profits from the software by precluding companies from establishing
commercial IP rights in any subsequent code. Thus, if government R&D
creates a security innovation under a restrictive license, a commercial
vendor will not integrate that code into its software. So long as
government research is not released under licensing terms that restrict
commercialization, publicly funded research provides an important
resource for the software industry.

New Democrats have long supported public-private partnerships -- it's
important that any licenses do not compromise a company's intellectual
property rights in their own technology. I encourage you to sign the
attached letter to Mr. Clarke. If you have any questions, please
contact Mike Mullen (Rep. Jim Turner; 5-2401) or John Mulligan (Rep.
Adam Smith; 5-8901). Thank you.

Sincerely,

Adam Smith Member of Congress
Ron Kind Member of Congress
Jim Davis Member of Congress

Text of attached letter to Mr. Clarke

Congress of the United States
Washington DC 20515
October 8, 2002

Honorable Richard A. Clarke
Chair, President's Critical Infrastructure Board
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Clarke:

We are writing to submit our views on the National Strategy to Secure
Cyberspace that you circulated for comment on September 18, 2002. We
believe the National Strategy should explicitly recognize that overall
cyber security will improve if federally funded research and development
is made available to Americans under intellectual property licenses that
allow for further development and commercialization of that work
product. This is a long-standing federal principle that should be
explicitly stated in the National Strategy.

The leading example of this principle is DARPA's research in the 1970s
that resulted in TCP/IP - the key set of communications standards that
form the technical basis of today's Internet. These communications
standards were made available under licensing terms allowing their
integration into commercial software, which in turn enabled a wide range
of companies to develop innovative communication and networkingservices.

Taxpayers are still realizing a tremendous return on that federal
investment through Internet driven productivity gains, economic growth,
job creation, and individual empowerment that could not have been
predicted by the federal, academic and private sector researchers who
developed TCP/IP. However, none of these returns would have been
possible unless the research was made available under licensing terms
that allowed the private sector to commercialize TCP/IP. Nor would the
government and industry have enjoyed the fruits of this economic
activity-- fruits that have funded additional research and development--
unless it had been made available for commercialization.

It would be very unfortunate - indeed, couterproductive and contrary to
the public-private partnership that is at the core of the national cyber
security strategy - if companies were reluctant to adopt promising
security technologies produced by federal research for fear that doing
so may compromise their intellectual property rights in their own
technology.

For these reasons, it is essential that the National Strategy affirm
federal tradition by explicitly rejecting licenses that would prevent or
discourage commercial adoption of promising cyber security technologies
developed through federal R&D. We commend your hard work on an issue of
pressing importance, appreciate the opportunity to participate in this
process, and trust you'll consider our views when you issue the final
version of your report.

Sincerely,

(signed)
Tom Davis

(signed)
Jim Turner
Ranking Member, Reform Subcommittee on Technology

NOTE: Their letter is addressed to Mr. Clarke who has *not* expressed
support of this initiative."

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