How to build an industrial open source policy – Let’s learn from France

France is one of the main adopters – or probably the larger adopter – of open source software at the public level.

Last week, at Open World Forum 2012, the French National Council for Open Source Software (CNNL)  presented  a list of 10 indications sent to Fleur Pellerin, French Ministry for SMEs, Innovation and Digital Economy.

I find this is a perfect synthesis of many suggestions that I heard from various sources during last years aiming to foster the adoption of free/open source software (FLOSS – i.e.: logiciel libre in France). I particularly appreciate the fact that these indications are not intended to support FLOSS directly, but to create an environment that can favor its adoption through a  broad-minded approach.

Let’s see the main tracks of this proposition.

Foster public procurement of software adopting open standards or FLOSS

I totally agree: this is one of the key drivers to foster open source adoption.

In detail, CNNL suggests:

  • the mandatory use of open standards (a definition of open standard is necessary, of course, and I agree that the  European IDABC definition is a good choice)
  • using FLOSS when total cost, risk and effectiveness are comparable to those offered by proprietary solutions.

But it’s not enough. In order to create a lively ecosystem they suggest also:

  • favoring collaboration and reuse of resources by public administration
  • supporting business of Small Medium Enterprises.
Establish a set of laws and rules that are not unfavorable to FLOSS

Great! Instead of proposing new laws in favor of open source software (not applicable, usually), they have suggested to set up a jurisdictional environment that is not against FLOSS.

The main topics include:

  • no software patents at all
  • setting up a real definition of open standard
  • acting so as to foster net neutrality.

I’ve nothing to add here! I totally agree.

Prepare the future encouraging innovation and supporting education.

This action must be obviously tailored to different national environments, jurisdictions and states of the art. As for France they suggest:

  • maintaining current devices and means that support and fund collaborative projects, taking into account the FLOSS specificity
  • keeping stable and reinforce current FLOSS recommendations concerning existing national projects
  • fostering the adoption of FLOSS in the education domain.

What is happening in France can be seen as a good reference practice.

Fund FLOSS initiatives
  • a de-taxing initiative based on “patronage of competence” could be a practical means to de-facto fund FLOSS indirectly and foster the creation of independent foundations aiming to support FLOSS.

Go into the document for a deeper insight, if you are a French reader!

If my post does not contain the exact translation of the original French text, don’t worry: my aim was just to clarify my own position.

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