[Fsf-friends] US State Congressman tries to ban the GPL

Sayamindu Dasgupta unmadindu@Softhome.net
23 Oct 2002 20:55:54 +0530

I just got this at newforge - entire text copy pasted (apologies for
It would be helpful if you can fwd this to your American friends, who in
turn can write to these Congressmen.

PS: Sayan, could you post an article on this at www.peacefualction.org,
I am not being able to access the administrative interface

=========Begin Message================

    Wednesday October 23, 2002 - [ 12:47 PM GMT ]   Print this Article
    Topic - Government
    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
    2) They state that you cannot improve OR adopt OR commercialize GPL
    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
    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:
    Here's the note to the New Democrats from Smith, Kind and J. Davis:
    Support Innovation in Cybersecurity -- Sign The Attached Dear
    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.
    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
    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.
    Tom Davis
    Jim Turner
    Ranking Member, Reform Subcommittee on Technology
    NOTE: Their letter is addressed to Mr. Clarke who has *not*
    expressed support of this initiative."