Reintroducing Theodore Teah - Copyright and Licensing Associate
I started with the Free Software Foundation (FSF) while completing my doctoral course work in Sociology at Boston University, back in the early 2000s. During those formative years, I learned the importance of freedom when it comes to talking about software as the FSF copyright assignment administrator and the Free Software Directory maintainer. Moreover, I was blown away with the manner in which copyleft inverts the copyright paradigm to ensure freedom when normally it builds fences. Motivated to not be a player in the tragedy of the commons, I became deeply interested in alternatives during law school. What interested me most about this component of the law was that it was set for rapid development, as well as its cyclic nature. Initial copyright rules stemmed from a technological shift, the printing press, and it seems that this was to be the case again.
Leaving the FSF, I trained as a trial lawyer. I worked at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Children and Family Law Program (CAFL). At CAFL, I represented parents accused of, and children alleged to be suffering from, abuse and/or neglect. There are no higher stakes than the loss of one's child to the government, or the exodus from an abusive situation. During this period I came to see the complex family dynamics at play when issues pertaining to family are hotly contested. Following this, I entered private practice. Throughout this period I was in the courtroom nearly every day presenting evidence, examining witnesses, and making oral arguments.
Although I felt my work was important, something left me longing. When the opportunity presented itself to return to the FSF I jumped at it. My time away from the organization confirmed for me the importance of the mission and my passion for the work. I've returned to the FSF renewed and excited to continue to help cement the framework of free software by serving as the copyright and licensing associate.
As the copyright and licensing associate, I coordinate all of the software copyright documents for the FSF. Also, I work on analyzing discrepancies in copyright and generally working to ensure the protection necessary for the enforceability of FSF copyrights. In addition, I'm part of the Compliance Lab team and assist in advancing the FSF's free software licensing advocacy and compliance efforts, through such activities as background research on licensing policy and investigating license violations.
This is a very exciting time for free software and I am amped to be a part of it!