Bruce Perens Seeks Mandatory Award of Legal Fees For His Defense in Open Source Security, Inc. and Bradley Spengler v. Bruce Perens

In August, Open Source Security, Inc. brought a lawsuit against me in federal court, seeking over $3 million, and later added Bradley Spengler as a plaintiff. Open Source Security and Mr. Spengler sued me because they disagreed with my blog posts and Slashdot comments which expressed my opinions that their policies regarding distribution of their Grsecurity product could violate the GPL and lead to liability for breach of contract and copyright infringement.

This lawsuit should never have been brought.  My blog post and Slashdot comments are first amendment speech protected by the California anti-SLAPP law.  While Open Source Security and Mr. Spengler were free to disagree with my opinions, they were not free to sue me to try to stop me from expressing them.  The anti-SLAPP law requires recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs–precisely to deter actions like this one that chill the exercise of first amendment rights.  Fee recovery also encourages private representation in anti-SLAPP cases so that defendants may obtain quality representation without being bankrupted.  Thus, the law provides for successful defendants to recover fees and costs from plaintiffs who bring meritless suits.

The court has now ruled in my favor that Open Source Security and Mr. Spengler’s claims are not meritorious.  Today, I am asking the court to award my legal fees and costs so far, which will go to O’Melveny, the law firm I retained.

The cost of my defense well exceeded half a Million dollars.

When I got sued, I called upon the best attorney I know in the Open Source world, Heather Meeker, who I have known for 20 years and worked with professionally. Heather is the author of Open (Source) for Business: A Practical Guide to Open Source Software Licensing — Second Edition and three other books.  Heather formed a team including Melody Drummond Hansen, a Silicon Valley partner with experience in Open Source and defamation matters, Cara Gagliano, an associate focused on copyright and speech issues, and two bright first-year associates, Marissa Rhoades and Eric Ormsby .

I sought this high-quality team because the stakes were high.  Open Source Security and Mr. Spengler sought at least $3 Million and also attacked my professional reputation and integrity.  While the fees incurred in this case are significant, they are based on the standard rates charged for attorneys of similar experience and caliber.  In my experience, this team is well worth it.  Also, the amount of fees reflect Open Source Security’s and Mr. Spengler’s litigation tactics, which unnecessarily increased the time spent defending this case by forcing responses to the many filings and shifting theories they pursued.

Had Open Source Security and Mr. Spengler not filed their suit, they would not be facing this expense at all.  For example, had they engaged in the spirit of reasoned debate rather than filing a lawsuit, the fees could have been avoided entirely.  And had they not greatly complicated the suit, the fees would be much smaller.  Plaintiffs now also are appealing the case, which will further increase my legal costs.

Fee awards under anti-SLAPP are mandatory and they are meant to deter unnecessary suits like this one–to protect everyone’s freedoms to engage in public debate without fear of being sued.

Generally, I would prefer not to talk about a lawsuit in progress. My desire to keep the Open Source community informed is my reason for making this statement.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to make any further statements about the case for now.

ARRL Suspends Controversial Director Confidentiality Requirements

At its January 18 meeting, ARRL suspended some of the controversial director confidentiality requirements. These requirements first made news when ARRL publicly censured director Richard Norton N6AA, apparently for publicly discussing at an ARRL conference the requirements themselves and the board’s handling of the matter.

The board resolved that:
The entire Code of Conduct must be reviewed by the ARRL Officers, Directors and Vice Directors with a deadline for completion of a final draft version 60 days in advance of the July 2018 meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors and be reported at that meeting.


So, we will need to move in the upcoming month to inform ARRL directors of our sentiments regarding the code of conduct, while this draft is being created.


The board moved to delete one section of the existing code of conduct and suspend another:

1. Confidentiality 6. C. delete the following sentence: “A Board member may not, in disclosing anything about the Board’s deliberations, discuss or disclose the votes of the Board or of individual Board members (including his/her own) unless the Board has previously made the votes public”.
2. Suspend all of Section 8. “Support of Board Decisions.”


The action by the board was much better than the previous rather unresponsive A Note to Members from ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR. Roderick didn’t venture to apologize in any way for the new code of conduct and its application to Director Norton, which at least some of the members found disturbing. One would hope that Roderick, re-elected as president at the same meeting, could man up and say “I’m sorry”, since the board did indeed look into the issue and take action just days after his unresponsive editorial, and must have already had the item in its agenda as Roderick wrote his piece.


These are the sections that are deleted or suspended:
6(c)A Board member may not, in disclosing anything about the Board’s deliberations, discuss or disclose the votes of the Board or of individual Board members (including his/ her own) unless the Board has previously made the votes public. Nor shall any Board member falsely characterize the positions, policies or decisions of the Board or the points of view taken by any member of the Board with respect to them.
8. SUPPORT OF BOARD DECISIONS: A Board member must accept and publicly support Board decisions.
a. A Board member, as a leader in Amateur Radio, is encouraged to be an ambassador and an advocate for ARRL and, subject to the Confidentiality Standard of this Code of Conduct, to publicly promote the activities and actions of the organization with the ARRL membership. In doing so, a Board member must act at all times faithfully to the intent of the Board as expressed in its official statements, and should not reinterpret or re-characterize the Board’s actions to reflect his/her own view or the views of any other Board Member.
b. While having the right and responsibility to exercise independent judgment and to express dissenting opinions during Board deliberations, a Board member also has the obligation outside the Boardroom to respect and support final decisions of the Board, even when the Board member dissented from the majority view.
c. A Board member who does not support a Board decision may express his/her opposition within the Board in an appropriate manner.
d. A Board member must not take actions publicly or with respect to the ARRL membership that have the purpose or effect of undermining or discrediting the decisions or actions of the Board.
e. If a Board member is ultimately unable to accept a Board decision and is unable to influence a change, the Board member should consider voluntarily resigning his/her position on the Board.
f. A Board member may not publicly oppose a Board action prior to the effective date of his or her resignation from the Board.

SpaceX Expendable Rocket Fails

SpaceX expendable rocket fails to be expended

Today’s Sescom launch by SpaceX failed spectacularly when the expendable first stage failed to be expended, surviving after soft-landing in the ocean. An embarrassed SpaceX had no choice but to attempt to tow the rocket to shore, lest it reveal ITAR-restricted secrets and other proprietary information of SpaceX to anyone who cared to salvage it.