The NZOSS completed another year with its AGM on Sunday. Minutes of the AGM will be released but other than normal legal society business the main news was that Peter Harrison a founder and long time NZOSS President has stepped down. I am glad to say that Peter will remain on as Vice President and will continue with much of the work he has been leading.
Thanks to all those that turned up online and in person to the AGM. Other changes that took place were that Vik Olliver was seconded to the council. Vik has indicated that he will take on the title of "Events Organiser". Chris Daish, another new council member, has taken on the role of "Government Officer".
The NZOSS had some remarkable successes last year (see Peter's YouTube summary for the AGM). The most newsworthy was the successful challenge against Microsoft's first XML Patent. There was also the work on the upcoming amendments for the Copyright Bill. As well as Peter's excellent submission to the committee phases there was plenty of lobbying of ministers by a wide variety of people. Opposition to the DRM aspects of the bill has been wide spread and extended well beyond the normal technical communities. The outcome of submissions and lobbying has yet to be seen. Australians have already discovered that the recording and film industry is very well organised and hard to overcome. Another Youtube video of Peter's submission is here.
Peter also put forward submissions on the Patent Amendment Bill. Whilst this will will still allow software patents to be registered it is now believed process of opposing a patent will be far less costly and that the test of "obviousness" will be applied with more rigour than has been the case in the past.
A lot of time and effort has been spent these two intellectual property issues. This may seem a distraction to the Society's goals of promotion and education but IP is fundamental to FOSS. FOSS licences are written around existing copyright legislation and if anyone has any doubts about the threat of patents to *all* software you need look no further than Microsoft's latest comments about Linux infringing on 250 of their patents. This work is, in my view, important and will continue to be an important strand in the coming months and years.
I want to thank all the council members for their hard work in 2006. I should not really pick people out but the Secretary, Carl Klitscher, and web master Mark Foster seem to have been particularly dedicated and active.
Moving on to this coming year. We hope to hold our first council meeting in mid-July. But the strands of work or events we are building up for are:
1. Software Freedom Day - Saturday September 15th. Some interesting plans afoot to make this even bigger and better than before. According to our database the NZOSS has nearly 400 members. The planning sessions and event itself should be a good chance for a few of us to get away from our screens and meet up in person.
2. NZ Open Source Awards - Nominations close on August 17th. The ceremony will be held on the 17th October in Wellington. The NZOSS and Catalyst IT Limited are spearheading this event. We have an impressive list of judges and already an impressive list of nominations. But we need to hear about more of the good uses to which FOSS is being put to in NZ and we need to hear more about the New Zealanders that are contributing to FOSS.
Find out more at http://www.nzosa.org.nz/
3. Building an active membership - whilst individual membership appears high it is not clear how active or involved our members are. For example, only half of us are subscribed to the NZOSS mailing list. We need to address this issue and we also want to get more support and funding from business members.
Go to http://www.nzoss.org.nz/mailinglists to subscribe.
4. Opposing a second XML Patent - Microsoft have a second XML Patent in the process of being lodged with the NZPO. The details are "536149 Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML."
The NZOSS is working to have this application rejected.
5. LCA - linux.conf.au is the largest open source conference in the Southern Hemisphere. In 2006 this was held at Otago University. It was a major coup by the local organisers and one that New Zealand should try and repeat. We would like to start thinking about co-ordinating a bid for 2009 or 2010.
It's going to be an exciting and busy year for the society. I am looking forward to your support and help. This is my first President's report, but it will not be my last. You will hear more from me on a regular basis. Adjust your filters accordingly.