Speaker Interview: Deb Nicholson

When sofware legal topics come to mind, the first thing you think of is  . . . "House of Cards"? Deb Nicholson is giving a presentation on "Software Patent Litigation: What Have We Learned?" on SCALE 13x Sunday at 4:30. The SCALE Team took a few minutes to ask her about her talk.
Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?
A: My name is Deb Nicholson and I like to work at the intersection of technology policy and social justice. In less lofty terms, that means finding stuff in the free software movement that needs doing; keeping FOSS developers safe from frivolous patent suits, nudging free software projects to become bigger, friendlier and more diverse and promoting free software tools that empower end-users. 
Q: You're giving a talk on Software Patent Litigation: What Have We Learned? Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?
A: Well, we've been talking about software patent suits for a while but many of our conversations as builders of software have barely scratched the surface, eg. whoever is suing us is bad and maybe one day we can move to a place where there aren't so many ridiculous software patents. I'm going to dig into the various entities involved in patenting software and bringing patent suits so we can use that knowledge to respond more effectively when lawsuits threaten our community.  
Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?
A: I've been attending SCALE for quite a while now! I consistently recommend SCALE as a great conference for networking, for new people, for job-seekers, for recruiters -- really, it's for anyone who likes friendly free software people and a break from Boston in February. Honestly, the break from Boston is a pretty appealing aspect this year. 
Q: Don't free software legal topics tend to be a bit dry?
A: Not at all! Once you dig in, it's more like a "House of Cards" spin-off where they decided to make every single episode about software. Or put another way, it's often both hilarious and depressing at the same time. But don't just take my word for the entertainment potential of legal topics, go to Tom Callaway's FOSS Licensing talk on Saturday. By Sunday, I bet you'll be ready for more. 
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
A: The SCALE organizers do a fantastic job! This is the gold-standard of community-run free software conferences. I just hope they never get sick of running this awesome conference for us. 
[SCALE Team interview by Larry Cafiero]