I have been a Director of the Python Software Foundation for six years; have served on its Trademarks Committee for even longer, becoming chair for the last 5 years; have served also as chair of the PSF's Outreach & Education Committee.  As part of my commitment to this prominent Free Software project, I frequently speak and keynote around the world about both technical issues in Python programming and organizational issues of the PSF itself (e.g. keynotes at PyCon India, PyCon UK, PyCon-ZA, PyCon Belarus; talks at PyCon US, OSCon, meetup groups, etc).

My interest in promoting Python has always been as much about the political and legal issues and concerns of Free Software as about the specific technology and style of the particular programming language, and my activities, writing, and talks, have reflected this focus.

Prior to serving with the PSF, I was a Director and CTO of the Open Voting Consortium, a group devoted to promoting open source—or at least inspectable source—in voting systems, as well as to assuring verifiability, anonymity, and fraud resistance by use of printed ballots (i.e. printed with assistance of computer interfaces, but verifiable visually on paper, or through use of independent open source systems for blind voters).  In that role, I co-authored a number of academic papers about the system design, including the principles of open source that are essential for verifiability, security, and transparency. I even wrote "yet another license" for the OVC that resolved some conflicting demands of interested participants (although ultimately, and fortunately, most everything was eventually released as GPL or BSD licenses, or to the public domain).

As a footnote, I also designed the security protocol for the E-Vote software that has been used in the OSI and PSF elections (coded by my colleague Massimo di Pierro though, primarily), to allow for anonymity, verifiability, and integrity—in particular, against the threat model requirement that "even tampering by a corrupted web server or malicious election administrator can be detected by voters."

In order to become better informed about copyright issues regarding open source—and these legal questions generally—I have currently been admitted to and have started my participation in the wonderful edX/Harvard course CopyrightX.  This is, in essence, a Harvard Law course that is being made freely available to a limited, but worldwide, group of students who will actively participate in weekly live-streaming discussions (as well as the usual lectures, readings, etc. associated with a course).  My hope is that this will enable me to participate more deeply and meaningfully in open source advocacy, and promotion of free culture and a free society.

My goal as an OSI Director is to firm up the legal precision and acuity with which OSI addresses intellectual property issues facing FLOSS projects.  We live in a world with a rapidly evolving and deeply flawed legal regime governing IP, and OSI has to be both careful and strident to protect the rights of developers, computer users, and world citizens generally.

I welcome voters to review my hundreds of technical publications, my programming language book published by Addison Wesley, my doctoral research in political philosophy, my writings on intellectual property and human freedom, and other miscellaneous works at http://gnosis.cx/publish/.  I am also delighted to answer any further questions at my email address: mertz@gnosis.cx.

Created by David Mertz on 2015.02.07 at 24:39:12 PST

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