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The Register: French proposal plans state Free Software Agency

Jan 04, 2000, 15:23 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Lettice)

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"A proposed French law adopting free and/or open source software as the official state standard has been rewritten and tightened up, following the French Senate's pioneering experiment with electronic discussion. The new text, originally proposed as loi 495 but now retagged 117, cleans up terminology, but perhaps the most intriguing new aspect is the proposal to establish L'Agence du Logiciel Libre (the Free Software Agency) to oversee the process of switching and standardisation."

"The law was proposed last year by French senators Pierre Laffitte and René Trégouët, and since then has been debated in a forum on the French Senate's web site. Its specific purpose is to help kick-start an electronic society in France by defining standards, compelling state agencies to make services and information available electronically and allowing the general population free access to them via the web. But in the view of the senators this can best be facilitated by the adoption of open, free software that can be modified freely...."

"Some of the wording changes derive from a meeting between Richard Stallman, Frederic Couchet of APRIL (Association pour la Promotion et la Recherche en Informatique Libre) and senator Laffitte. Rather than "free of rights" we're now talking about software "the use and modification of which are free," covering a fairly broad territory. Linguistically though the law remains delicately poised; Stallman sees its genesis as a victory for the free software movement, and at the time of our original reports was determined to stop it being seen as one for open source. If it is passed, however, it still creates a major opportunity for open source, and for free software in general."

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