[sklug] Call for corrections/critics: Directive on free software version 0.1 (European Union)

Peter Surda shurdeek na routehat.org
Pátek Leden 30 13:19:08 CET 2004

On Fri, Jan 23, 2004 at 07:51:26AM -0800, Neuromante wrote:
> Call for corrections/critics: Directive on free
> software  version 0.1
> Dear friends,

> i prepared a very early draft version (version 0.1!!)
> of  a proposal of European Union Directive on free
> software which will be presented by the Green party.
I got this email through Slovak Linux User Group mailing list, and would like
to comment on it.

First of all, let me say somthing about my political and economic background,
so you understand where my arguments come from. I am a right liberal, that
means I think there should be as little law as possible, because a
monopolistic lawmaker can't make better decisions than market, and always
results in worsening the situation.

Now to the topic. By all means I think that there should be no requirement to
use no-free software for accessing documents published/provided by the
government and other public institutions. However at the same time, I think
you are making a mistake by making the directive proposal too ideological. I
would recommend something like this instead (whole text sans required
implementation periods):

"A public institution that exchanges data with other institutions and/or
private persons, is required to prepare and disclose a policy regarding the
used standards and formats, mainly with regard to patents and trade secrets."

Wait a minute, you may say, there is nothing there that says it should be
open or free! You're right, but nevertheless, this directive would have a
similar effect, because it requires insitutions that use closed or patented
formats to disclose and explain this, which will open them to critique and
pressure from others. Basically, it shifts the "weight of proof" from "us" to

Moreover, there are limited ways which can be used to attack this directive in
the legislative process, so the chance it will be accepted is very high
regardless of which party has the majority in the parliament.

Please consider my input.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Surda (Shurdeek) <shurdeek na routehat.org>, ICQ 10236103, +436505122023

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