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Beyond PJ's Groklaw

The H: Technology seems to be beset with legal entanglements, and as the use of free software in the "developing" world grows, the contradictions between the interests of the incumbent and emergent powers in this field seems to grow. If you could change a part of the law as it effects free software, what would it be?

PJ: Software and patents need to get a divorce.

They are destroying US tech innovation. Microsoft, of course, is the most prominent moving force, trying to either destroy or control GNU/Linux with patents. It's such a small, venal dream, but Microsoft is Microsoft. But they couldn't pursue their dream without the toxic patent system.

The H: What do you think the big issues and dangers of the next few years will be, affecting free software and its growth, and what are the positives?

PJ: It's all about patents now, and mobile. That's the battlefield now, and that's why I knew it was time to step aside, because that's not my area of expertise. I've always hated patent law, and watching Microsoft and others misuse the patent system for anticompetitive purposes, I realized why I always hated it. And I knew Groklaw needed more expertise in that area. Just like I knew the tech community can't get the legal part right, and I couldn't get the tech right without them, I know that what is needed next is a lawyer running Groklaw, and I have persuaded one to take it over.

The H: Are you retiring completely from the spotlight, or do you have any plans beyond Groklaw?

PJ: I am retiring completely from the spotlight.

The H: What next for Groklaw? Do you have any regrets? Any issues that might have been tackled more thoroughly or are still unresolved? Anything you would have liked Groklaw to achieve that it hasn't, or may still achieve? And where would like it to be in five years time?

PJ: No regrets. Maybe I wish I had been less naive in the beginning. I didn't know people as awful as SCO folk. In all my days on this planet, I never knew such people. And I won't miss them at all.

Sometimes I worry that, like the living dead, they crawl and lumber back to the village from the graveyard swamp and try some more damage and I won't be there to fend them off. Sounds like a nightmare, right? But it seems they are finished. Our research is quite complete now, even if they did try again. And it was either stop now or commit for the rest of my life, and even soldiers get to go home after their tour of duty is done. Others can carry on.

What I hope Groklaw will become next is the place everyone visits when they want to understand how the law and FOSS intersect. And I hope it will be able to cover more subjects, both in the US and around the world. The only limits to Groklaw are how hard people are willing to work and how many show up to do so.

For other feature articles by Richard Hillesley, please see the archive.

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