[sclug] Vote for free software

Neil Brown neil at neilzone.co.uk
Wed May 27 13:52:33 UTC 2009

Thanks, Stuart - this is an interesting proposition, containing a  
couple of principles which we were discussing on the FSF Europe legal  
mailing list this morning.

Whilst I can understand the main aim of the document, it goes too far,  
in my opinion, in promoting Free software over proprietary software -  
a biased process in favour of open source software is not necessarily  
better than a process biased against it.

A better position to have adopted, in my opinion, is that code should  
be handled on its merits; can the code, and all its attributes  
(including quality, usability, price, licence terms etc.) satisfy the  
requirements of a project? Whilst, of course, there may be situations  
in which adopting an open source system is, in itself, a benefit (the  
example of voting platforms is often given here), this should simply  
be a factor in choice of system, and not an overarching requirement.

However, a push for use of tools which implement, and comply with,  
open *standards*, which could be implemented with or without open  
source code, should be mandated, for all manner of benefits,  
including, importantly, equal access and (ex)portability etc.

This is the position which I have presented a number of times now at  
various Free software / legal events, from the point of view of  
managing open source software within an organisation, and the same  
principles could be usefully adopted within the public sector also, in  
my opinion.

Promoting Free software is an excellent goal, as is requiring  
consideration of  Free solutions; pushing Free software over and above  
non-Free software, in a project-agnostic manner, though, does Free  
software no favours, to my mind.


Quoting Stuart Ward <stuart.ward at bcs.org>:

> Get your MEP to sign up to the pact.
> The Free Software Pact is a simple document with which candidates can
> inform the voting public that they favour the development and use of
> Free Software, and will protect it from possible threatening EU
> legislation. The Free Software Pact is also a tool for citizens who
> value Free Software to educate candidates about the importance of Free
> Software and why they should, if elected, protect the European Free
> Software community.
> Free Software Pact: http://freesoftwarepact.eu/
> -- Stuart Ward M +44 7782325143

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