Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Worried about the FFII

In an article, (one of Germany's most reputable IT websites) pinpoints some internal trouble in the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure FFII ("Association of SWPAT opponents stands before a Palace Coup"). The FFII threatens to split into several factions, with current president Hartmut Pilch being challenged by "the comparatively young programmer" (in Heise's words) Jonas Maebe from Belgium in next week's presidential election in Brussels.

I am worried.

First of all, the FFII was instrumental to the defensive victory against SWPATs this summer in the EU. MySQL AB was a prime sponsor and backer of the campaign, but without FFII, we would never have won.

So whatever happens with FFII in their elections in Brussels is important, to say the least.

As such, it's a bit surprising that the "winníng side" from this summer's European Parliament battle are experiencing this kind of organisatorial upheaval. I'd be less surprised if the EICTAs of the world would have palace coups, considering the amount of lobbying money their membership put in without getting anything in return.

But back to FFII. In the best interest of those of us working against software patents would be

  • unanimity in FFII

  • good strategic thinking by FFII

  • lots of good, visible press work by FFII

  • good channels to companies willing to fund FFII

  • representation in the EP by FFII

but it seems we at least won't be getting unanimity, and some of the other items are also at risk.

Personally, I haven't interacted with Jonas, so I have little to say about him (except that, should he be elected, I hope to establish a good working relationship with him). As for Hartmut, MySQL AB has had good experiences inviting him and sponsoring his travel when he spoke with MySQL CEO MÃ¥rten Mickos and Red Hat's Michael Tiemann on SWPATs at OSCON in the US last summer. Our discussions have also always been productive, whenever exchanging information and pursuing ideas.

On top of this, what worries me with the FFII is the meagre PR work coming out at this point in time. If I google for news item on FFII, I get one (1) item. If I do the equivalent search on "Florian Müller", I get forty-eight (48) items. This is out of proportion.

I am a member of the FFII (now counting 90.000 members), but I am not in a position to come to Brussels on 29 Nov 2005 (*), so I won't be able to influence the decision -- as the over 89.000 members who cannot go there won't be able to vote.

(*) The place and date I hope Florian Müller will be elected "European of the Year"

Concentrating on internal fights is seldom productive. Especially when there is an external threat, in this case SWPATs.

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