The Register: French proposal plans state Free Software Agency

“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.”