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German Parliamentary Committee Pushes for Open Source Friendly Policy 44

Posted by timothy
from the wouldn't-it-be-nice? dept.
Qedward writes with this except from Computerworld UK: "Germany should change a law to enable public administrations to make their software available as free and open source, a German parliamentary committee has advised. German public administrations currently are not allowed to give away goods, including software, said Jimmy Schulz, a member of Parliament and chairman of the Interoperability, Standards and Free Software Project Group. The current law prohibits governments from being part of the development process in the free software community, he said. 'This is a clear disadvantage because it cuts off all benefits obtained from free software, such as being cost-efficient and state-of-the-art,' he said. Besides a recommendation that the government should explore whether the law can be changed for software, the group also called for the use of open standards in order to make sure that everybody can have access to important information, Schulz said. 'We also called for public administrations in general to make sure that new software is created as platform independent as possible,' he added. While the project group is not in favour of giving priority to one type of software over another, it said in its recommendation to the Parliament earlier this week that free and open source software could be a viable alternative to proprietary software." I think a fair rule is that, barring extraordinary and demonstrated need, all tax dollars for software should go only for the development of software for which source is available gratis to all taxpayers, and that secret-source software makers are free to change to fit this requirement any time they'd like to have their software considered for a bid.
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German Parliamentary Committee Pushes for Open Source Friendly Policy

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  • In the US... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @06:02PM (#42620785)
    In the USA, it is possible for public and governmental employees to not only contribute to open source software, but also to have that be part of their particular job.
    .
    ImageJ [wikipedia.org] is a public domain software package [wikipedia.org] developed at the NIH (National INstitute of Health) by Wayne Rasband.
    .
    NIST also has software that is publicly available, though not all of it is "public domain".
    .
    I don't know whether the "public domain" status is used because Gov't entities are not allowed to hold copyright on materials they develop; I know I've seen copyright labels on a lot of NASA products and images and animations. I strongly feel that products developed from our tax dollars ought to be available back to us and between/amongst different governmental departments so as to save us money and development costs.
  • Re:In the US... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @06:24PM (#42620959)

    >I know I've seen copyright labels on a lot of NASA products and images and animations

    A lot of those were tacked on by third parties.

    There are a few culture thieves (publishers) that have been taking expired copyright/public domain stuff and tacking on a new copyright to it. As if this minimal sweat of the brow is enough to re-copyright.

    --
    BMO

  • Re:In the US... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday January 17, 2013 @07:21PM (#42621373)

    There are a few culture thieves (publishers) that have been taking expired copyright/public domain stuff and tacking on a new copyright to it. As if this minimal sweat of the brow is enough to re-copyright.

    Actually, it's only the part the publishers add that's copyrighted. If you take a public domain work, and only repackage it, it's actually not under copyright at all, only the repackaged part of it is. If they add a foreword or analysis, that too is copyrighted. But the public domain work is still in public domain and someone could take that work and republish it.

    Of course, publishers don't want you knowing that... so they slap a "All rights reserved. Copyright 2013 blah blah blah" hopin gyou assume it's the entire thing and not whatever value add they put on.

    Otherwise stuff like Project Gutenberg really would have a hard time adding new content as the editions they often use are technically under copyright (because finding an old enough edition is difficult).

  • Re:A Fair Rule (Score:4, Interesting)

    by turbidostato (878842) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @09:22PM (#42622201)

    "While some software (voting machine) should always be open, need ALL software a government uses fit this requirement?"

    A big resounding "YES!"

    Please take the time to read any single open source license. Just to name the most famous two, BSD and GPL, please, read them.

    Imagine we are talking about an ultrasecret software that makes Al Qaeda bosses piss their pants and all [My Beloved Country]'s enemies, past, present or future, surrender on the spot. "Oh, my God! we don't want this to be open source, do we?"

    Well, do we? Now, answer a question to me: being such a software licensed under either GPL or BSD forces the government to give it away to anyone?

    But then, imagine such a software is developed by a contractor and the government forces such a contractor to license it under GPL or BSD. Does such agreement force the contractor to give the software away to anybody else? Does it force the government to give it away to anybody else?

    Just to state the obvious, if you answered "yes" to any of the questions on the paragraphs above, you really need to re-read the GPL and BSD licenses again.

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