Intellectual Monopolies and other stories from FSCONS

I spent the weekend in Gothenburg, Sweden, attending the FSCONS conference.

Image by: Mathias Klang.

First things first, the most important thing I brought home with me from Sweden is that we should start changing the way we talk about ‘Intellectual Property‘, and start calling it what it really is – Intellectual Monopoly.

Glyn Moody held a keynote entitled Ethics of Intellectual Monopolies (slides here). His point was (among other things) that we should start calling what is currently known as Intellectual Property (IP) what it really is, namely Intellectual Monopoly. Because copy-right and patents are just that – a monopoly granted by society to an author or inventor.
And we all know monopolies are bad! This will help people understand more clearly that these monopolies are harmful to society and need to be abolished (or at the very least weakened). To those who claim that the current rules and laws can’t be changed and are somehow set in stone, Glyn had a very good point, namely that they can be changed. They have been changed before through history, and of course they can be changed again.
The first copyright was limited to 14 years – compare that with the lifetime copyright of today. Through time there has been an increase of the time copyright was held. Nothing ensures that we could not start decreasing the time that an author is granted copyright.

If you want to do some more reading on this topic, Glyn recommended this book:
Against Intellectual Monopoly

Besides a lot of interesting talks I also met up with Andreas and Anders for a miniature Ubuntu-nordic meet-up to share stories and ideas. One thing the Swedish team is doing, that I hope we can start doing in the Danish team as well, is putting the translated Ubuntu documentation online in Swedish.
It is the same informations as can be accessed through the help menu in any Ubuntu system, but when you are looking for support, having such documents online can be a great resource. The documentation is online in English at the website, and the Swedish team has put the translated Swedish documentation online at The translation work has already been done, so putting the Danish documentation online shouldn’t be that big of a problem.

In general I very much enjoyed the FSCONS venue and the people there. It made me happy to see a lot of Ubuntu installs on the different laptops and netbooks as well.

It was no coincidence that most rooms and walls in the building had little computer-related names printed on to them. Normally the building houses the IT faculty. In one room the names of old video-games decorated the walls, other rooms had famous computer people, special keyboard key names or similar printed… and look whose name I found next to a toilet on the ground floor: