The Progress & Freedom Foundation will be in Brussels, Belgium, the week of February 13th, making its presence known in the heart of the European Union. PFF President Ray Gifford and Senior Fellows James DeLong and Tom Lenard will bring with them the message they relayed in Milan, Italy, on the effort to find a middle ground between exclusive control and total openness in digital age standards.
The PFF fellows will be working with The Centre for a New Europe, a non-profit, non-partisan research foundation headquartered in Brussels. The Centre was founded in 1993 by a Belgian lawyer and a Belgian journalist after a meeting in the Hilton Hotel on the Toison d'Or in Brussels. From this small beginning, the Centre has become a leading forum for discussing the animating ideas and practical implications of European Union policies. The Centre's reach now extends beyond Brussels to include offices and staff in Germany and the United Kingdom. The Centre is named for the "New Europe" now being born, for the European Union's daring, historic experiment to unite some 300 million Europeans in peace and freedom. As an active member of civil society, the Centre sees itself as part of that grand ambition to create a free, prosperous and peaceful Europe.
Over the years, the Centre has published dozens of books, upwards of one hundred newspaper and magazine articles, and hosted hundreds of EU Commission staffers, Members of the European Parliament and key journalists at luncheon and dinner discussions. It will partner with PFF on February 15th to host a luncheon for European Parliament members, and on February 16th for a dinner for European Parliament staff members.
The European Parliament in recent years has been wrestling with intellectual property in the digital age, and their actions affect not only hundreds of millions of Europeans but the global digital economy. Some groups have pushed for policymakers to mandate the use of open source or other interconnection mechanisms. This approach recognizes only half the problem, the need for openness, while ignoring the need to maintain incentives for innovation and investment. In practice, the approach may also frustrate interoperability because its very openness encourages tweaking and forking, which can result in version proliferation and incompatibility.
A superior route relies on the creativity of private companies acting within free markets, with governments playing their classic role of defining and enforcing property rights and protecting the integrity of the market. In this approach, the business world is free to develop its own routes to interoperability and openness, relying on standard-setting processes, contracts, and property rights.