Follow up with the Bb team

Wed Dec 6 18:39:46 2006 EST (-0500 GMT)

I went to a small group meeting with the BlackBoard team later this afternoon. I knew I wasn’t going to get them to rescind their patent or drop their suite, but I think it went well. Matthew, Peter & Jan from Bb talked with Sakai community members (I don’t yet include myself in that community and I don’t really speak for Brock, but I know they don’t) and talked about ways they can reconcile.

I shared my opinion that Bb burnt a lot of goodwill when the obtained this patent and most importantly, when the sued D2L over it. Bb and the Sakai community can’t resolve their difference and they need to rescind their patent or wait for a legal judgement before anything happens. Bb has taken a position that will probably ensure they will never have a positive relationship with the Software Freedom Law Center.

What I encouraged Bb’s team to do was contribute to places where the two entities both have seats, like the IMS standards groups, or with publishers, and make their contribution there . My suggestion is that if they can make their archive files an open standard and their support for IMS course content packages a bigger part of their software they can compete on the merits of their product and not the fact that they hold a lot of content prisoner in it. If content was more portible between systems Bb/WebCT’s .zip archive files could become like .doc files are to things like OpenOffice and WordPerfect.

I also asked about Bb/WebCTs integration into open source tools like phpWiki and what their motivation was to get a sense of their feelings towards open source. The answer was to the affect of they’re leveraging a technology that has little cost to them and they want to integrate with more tools like that, which is what I wanted to hear.

The small group also gave me a chance to thank Bb for showing up and I reminded Matthew that I met him at the !MPACT 2006 WebCT conference in Chicago and that group seemed to be far more welcoming to Bb then this one.

2 Responses to “Follow up with the Bb team”

  1. Nicola Says:

    I’m glad it went well, I had a conflict, so I couldn’t go. Unfortunately, I think Mr. Moglen set an unnecessarily antagonistic tone during lunch. (I mean, comparing Bb to terrorists, isn’t that the 2006 variant of Godwin’s Law?) Anyway, I’m glad the issue came up again in the BOF. My stance is that I won’t demand that Bb develop code to make their packages portable to Sakai (it hardly seems fair!), but I just want their reassurance that they won’t sue anyone who does develop such a tool.

  2. iMatt :: The Blog of Matt Clare » Blog Archive » Matthew Small and Clare Respond to Bb patent developments Says:

    […] and blogged about at least two of them (Bb v. SFLC, Sakai, Moglen, rational thinkers, et all., Follow up with the Bb team). The problem I have with him is he’s a bright, reasoned individual who is operating quite […]