Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Sep 2017 21:20 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source

Digital services offered and used by public administrations are the critical infrastructure of 21st-century democratic nations. To establish trustworthy systems, government agencies must ensure they have full control over systems at the core of our digital infrastructure. This is rarely the case today due to restrictive software licences.

Today, 31 organisations are publishing an open letter in which they call for lawmakers to advance legislation requiring publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made available under a Free and Open Source Software licence.

Good initiative, and a complete and utter no-brainer. Public money, public code.

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utter no-brainer? no
by l3v1 on Sun 17th Sep 2017 16:15 UTC
l3v1
Member since:
2005-07-06

Oversimplification is never good.

There are lots of r&d projects that have large parts of public money in them, e.g., EU/Commission funded projects, but many others as well (e.g., some of ESA or EDA projects, etc.) that require a fairly high TRL level output, e.g., above tech demo. Which means you arrive to a level almost ready to market. Also, most of these projects are required to be led by some mid- or large industrial entity and have other industrial partners involved. Now, if developed sw solutions would always be required to be open, imagine how much these partners would be motivated to contribute. I've been involved in a number of such projects, and let me tell you, it wouldn't work. Even without such requirements sometimes is still hard to get substantial contributions from such companies, especially if they are in the business of building and bringing solutions to market - which hopefully they are, otherwise their participation wouldn't bring much to any table. Also, some projects having at least partial public funding can have secret outputs, especially defence- or force protection-related ones.

So, while in the general sense, I don't have anything against open sourcing what can be opened - especially since I work in research myself -, I'm just saying it wouldn't be a good solution to be overly broad in such regulation (or call simple solution ideas as no-brainers), since - as always - most issues are more complex than they seem, especially for outsiders.

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