Bonum Certa Men Certa

FSFE Legal Network LLW Conflict of Interest Scandal: Polina Malaja, Open Invention Network

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Apr 04, 2024

[Article 2 years old]

Reprinted with permission from the Free Software Fellowship.

In 2019, we published evidence of a conflict of interest scandal at the FSFE Legal & Licensing Workshop (LLW). We redacted the names.

Following subsequent actions from FSFE, we now publish the full email. Open Invention Network (OIN) was responsible for the scandal.

Polina Malaja resigned or was sacked from FSFE very soon after this.

Subject: [GA] LLW2018
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2018 17:32:08 +0200
From: Polina Malaja <polina@fsfe.org>
To: ga@lists.fsfe.org

[[CONFIDENTIAL - please do not forward this mail to anybody outside of this group]]
Dear all,
For your information, I would like to let you know about one recent case during agenda setting process at this year's Free Software Legal & Licensing Workshop (LLW) that I feel needs to be flagged with you. As a result of this case, a donor for the LLW managed to successfully push through a rejected talk to the official agenda of LLW2018 after the decision of rejection was taken by the FSFE Legal Team (LT), as organisers, and has been communicated to the parties involved.
Disclaimer: I take full responsibility for my actions and I don't want to blame anybody else within the FSFE for how it turned out, however, I regret the decision I took at the time, and the way I handled the situation. I have flagged this issue to Matthias. We agree that we need to make sure nothing similar happens again.
## Background
Agenda setting of the LLW has not been standardised throughout the years. Previously it has been only done within the most active members of the LT by individual voting in the thread started by the Legal Coordinator. This year, we expanded the evaluation process to also include the members of the Council of the Legal Network (LN Council). In order to ensure the most objective outcome of the evaluations, we also introduced the ranking system in several categories reserved for content and speaker abilities, and did not share any individual ratings between the members of LT and the LN Council before the final results were generated.
Call for Papers was conducted in 2 rounds, and each round of submission was circulated between the LT and the LN Council. The final rankings of all proposed and evaluated submissions were also circulated, along with the agenda drafts on numerous occasions. After the final feedback round and trying to accommodate all the feedback received, I proceeded with confirming the speakers, and rejecting the proposals that did not make it before publishing the agenda to the Legal Network.
After one company's talk, that was very poorly rated within the LT and the LN Council, got rejected by my e-mail, I received following communications complaining about exclusion of the aforementioned talk:
* Shane Coughlan who was advertised as a co-speaker, started the thread on the LT about re-evaluating the decision of rejecting the aforementioned submission by asking to include them in the agenda. His e-mail followed by several +1 by the members of LT, none of whom had raised any concerns with the previously circulated agenda drafts in preceding feedback rounds, nor indicating any specific importance of the aforementioned submission for the event earlier.
* Keith Bergelt, second co-speaker for the aforementioned submission, and CEO of Open Invention Network (OIN), which is one of the sponsors for LLW2018, sent me (while cc-ing all the co-speakers and an external LN member) a slightly uncomfortable e-mail, demanding for explanation about our internal agenda setting process, including the list of names of individuals involved in the evaluation of submissions. He also hinted to the fact that sponsors can pull out their sponsorship due to the current poor organisation of the event.
The tone and the sense of entitlement to the information he asked is in my opinion inappropriate. I, nevertheless, provided all the requested information.
After this sudden unsolicited feedback round on LT, resulting in some LT members' indicating the usefulness of the aforementioned rejected talk, I included this presentation into the official agenda of LLW2018, mostly due to the time pressure and trusting the opinion of the LT. I did voice out my reservation regarding this submission to the LT, although I did not listen to my gut feeling, and while knowing that several other submissions ranked much higher during the previous evaluation round.
## Result
Looking back, what we ended up is a potential conflict of interest:
1) OIN pushed hard for getting in a talk that directly advertised their work and with their CEO as a co-speaker. 2) Discussion on the LT happened without Shane mentioning he is a co-speaker, nor that the company submitting the talk is a sponsor of OpenChain project which he leads. 3) Several members of LT who participated in the discussion for inclusion of the aforementioned submission into the official agenda work for OIN or are somehow affiliated with it.
I realise that I should have taken firmer stance on this, and should not have taken the decision to include the aforementioned presentation into the official agenda of LLW2018, despite the collective decision taken in LT.
In order to make sure that something similar does not happen again, for the future, we should focus within the FSFE LT to make sure that our internal processes are clearer, as well as followed and adhered to, in order to make the LLW agenda setting process more objective, neutral and transparent, and to protect the FSFE's integrity.
Kind regards,
Polina
-- Polina Malaja - Policy Analyst - Legal Coordinator Free Software Foundation Europe, Schönhauser Allee 6/7, 10119 Berlin Contact: t +49-30-27595290 | Blog: blogs.fsfe.org/polina Your support enables our work (fsfe.org/join)
_______________________________________________ GA mailing list GA@lists.fsfe.org https://lists.fsfe.org/mailman/listinfo/ga

Polina Malaja, FSFE

Other Recent Techrights' Posts

In Malta, Android/Linux Has Overtaken Microsoft Windows (According to statCounter)
statCounter milestone?
 
Microsoft Falls Further and Closer Towards 10% (Windows "Market Share") in Kuwait
more countries entering the "single-digit Windows" (under 10%) club
Gemini Links 15/07/2024: Antenna's Pro-Hamas Bias Revisited and Old Computer Challenge
Links for the day
[Video] Julian Assange, Over One Decade Ago, Cautioning About What the Internet Had Truly Become
video is not new
Antenna Abuse and Gemini Abuse (Self-hosting Perils)
Perhaps all this junk is a sign of Gemini growing up
Homage to Malta
Malta is probably easy for Microsoft to bribe
IRC at 16
Logging has been used for us and against us
Links 15/07/2024: China’s Economic Problems, Boeing Under Fire
Links for the day
500 Days' Uptime Very Soon
Good luck doing that with Windows...
Windows Falls Below 20% in Tunisia
A month ago we wrote about GNU/Linux in Tunisia
Links 15/07/2024: Google Wants Wiz and Why "Sports Ruin Everything"
Links for the day
Gemini Links 15/07/2024: Old Computer Challenge and Sending Files via NNCP
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, July 14, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, July 14, 2024
Debian History Harassment & Abuse culture evolution
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Microsoft Windows Down to 23% in Spain
the rate of change is noteworthy
[Meme] It Is Not About Empowerment, It's About Optics for Bigots and Businessmen
Truth hurts
Truth is Always Truth
Desperate efforts to suppress the truth resulted in even worse chaos and some people are going to pay for it
Android Surges to New Highs in Georgia, Windows Plunges to 30% (It Was 99% in 2012)
Until 2012 almost all Web requests there came from Windows
Another Casualty of the 'GAI' Ponzi Scheme: Most of the News Cycle and News Sites
accelerated death of journalism
Empowering Predators Who Fancy Exercising Control Over Women (Using Corporate Money)
Remember this when Google talks about diversity, women etc.
GNU/Linux Continues Its Rapid Growth in July, Today We Look at Belgium
Again, a word of caution: statCounter isn't a perfect yardstick
Links 14/07/2024: Goldman Sachs Says 'Advanced' or 'Generative' Hey Hi (AI) is Just Hype, Thoughts on Negatives
Links for the day
GNOME Foundation Welcomes Dolly
It didn't work out with Molly and Holly
Links 14/07/2024: Perils for AI PC Hype Train, Further Attacks on Freedom of the Press
Links for the day
A Response to Bill Maher's Senseless Attacks on Julian Assange and Wikileaks
published a few hours ago
The List of Sites or Sources for Linux News is Getting Shorter Over Time (Despite GNU and Linux Steadily Growing in Usage)
A lack of publishing begets lack of educated, informed population (a return to Dark Ages where rulers leverage mass ignorance)
The Number of Web Servers Has Gone Down
Cloud fatigue deux?
[Meme] GNOME Foundation's Relationship With Women
Lots more coming soon, so stay tuned
The Smugness of "I'm a Journalist"
Attacking women for expressing their opinions (for example, about the abuse they received) isn't unprecedented
It Takes No Courage to Become Another Corporate Stooge
transition to spam
Why Techrights Has Just Programmatically Blacklisted ZDNet
Even their "Linux" writers are AWOL
Gemini Links 14/07/2024: The Stress of 24/7 Notifications and FOSS tools for Sipeed Tang Nano 1K
Links for the day
Windows Already Down to 10% in Lao (It was 96% a Decade and a Half Ago), Vista 11 Adoption Has Stalled
And GNU/Linux is topping a 1-year high in Loa
IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 13, 2024
IRC logs for Saturday, July 13, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
Links 13/07/2024: Patent Trolls in UK Court of Appeal, Eric Schmidt Continues so Show Womanising at Google
Links for the day
Links 13/07/2024: Not Quite Dead Yet After All and Unfederated E-mail
Links for the day
Holly Million, GNOME Foundation departure after Albanian whistleblower revelations
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Julian Assange’s Brother Gabriel Shipton Explains the Logistics of 'Smuggling' Julian Out of the United Kingdom
a lot of new information and prison stories
[Meme] Like They Got Rid of Molly (and Now Holly)
Pay over 100,000 dollars a year for someone without any background in tech (to "lead" a tech project)
Microsoft Windows Falls to Almost 10% in Palestine (It Was Measured at 100% Just 15 Years Ago)
quite a big drop
Guardianship of the Licence is Not Enough (the Case of Systemd and Microsoft)
Whether the GPL gets enforced or not, if people adopt lousy software, that will have negative consequences
Speaking Out and Spreading the Message of GNU
Free Software Foundation (FSF) got 112 new members since 2.5 weeks ago
[Video] Why Wikileaks Publishing War-Related Documents Was Both Important and Justified
It's important to remember the principle which says privacy is for the powerless, whereas the powerful (like those with the power to kill) deserve not privacy but transparency
3.5 Years in Gemini
It's important to speak about and spread the word (about software freedom, BSD, GNU/Linux, patents etc.) in a medium that's strategic and growing
[Meme] Whoever in GNOME Decided to Attack the G (GNU), It Was a Foolish Miscalculation
How could they expect any outcome other than GNOME's own collapse?
Windows Down to Unprecedented Low in Czech Republic, Android Rises to New Record
From 98% in July 2009 (15 years ago) Windows is down to all-time low of 38% and well below Android
GNOME Foundation Lost Nearly a Million Dollars in 2 Years, IBM and GAFAM Won't Bail It Out Anymore
Seems like a suicide mission
Google News Has Become a Big Pile of Garbage
The issue predates chatbots, but these SEO tricks were accelerated somewhat by slop
OpenAI and ChatGPT Could Very Well Collapse and Shut Down Later This Year (Huge Losses, Sagging Usage Levels, and Massive Debt)
we illuminate the suppressed observations that Microsoft-sponsored publishers and cheaply-made slop (LLM spew disguised as "news") try to distract from
[Meme] Attacking the "G" in GNOME (Since 2009) Was a Mistake
Spending 50,000 pounds to sue women of racial minority
Difficult Times in GNOME Foundation
GNOME Foundation is in "crisis management" or "face-saving" or "damage control" mode
Links 13/07/2024: TikTok Interferences, YouTube Throttled in Russia
Links for the day
Kathy Lette on Julian Assange Staying at Her Attic, Why His Release Matters So Much, and Jen Robinson Staying Over Yesterday
They talk a lot about politics, but the segment mentions publishers, including Rushdie
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 12, 2024
IRC logs for Friday, July 12, 2024
Microsoft Windows Down to a New Low in Canada (Only a Third)
Very steep decline a decade ago