For the first time an Open Source Public Licence will have the power of law. The European Union Public Licence (EUPL) has been published the 9 January 2007.
The licence is currently translated into the 21 European Union languages, the first ever Open Source licence translated legally and not only “for information” purpose!
European Union Public Administrations can now release their software under a licence that “takes care of their national specific copyright terminology and their provisions related to information, warranty or liability exclusion respecting consumer’s rights”. This is also related to “applicable law and competent court, as the EUPL guiding principle is based on trust towards Member States’ parliaments and judges without restrictions or exceptions”.
Does mean a threat to the GPL? Off course not, the writers of the Open Source Licence demonstrated an openness of mind by authorising the re-distribution of derivate works under the compatible licence:
Should the licensee’s obligations under the compatible licence conflict with EUPL’s obligations, the obligations of the Compatible Licence shall prevail. If other similar licences could be inspired by this open mind, the « free licence wars» and resulting incompatibilities would rapidly end!
European Union Public Licence v1.0 (EUPL) is almost localised in 27 languages! Already 23 are available but not published already. EUPL is a European Commission (EC) Open Source licence aimed to allow (at least) the EC to release Open Source Software on a legally recognised basis. Many countries have already discussing the choice of publishing their applications under this licence (France, Spain…) The European Commission, through its IDABC programme, has already released several applications:
- an on-line collaboration server: Communication and Information Resource Centre Administrator (CIRCA), a forum like application used by the European Commission, the Member States and the European Commission’ contractors; public access is also available.
- an on-line tool IPM that provides functionalities for “Interactive Policy Making”, a survey-like application
This is a great opportunity for Public Administrations to get an Open Source licence
- transposed into their national law,
- translated into their native language,
- targeted for European public sector legal services with:
- Full « European » copyright coverage (communication / moral rights)
- EU compatible liability and warranty clauses
- EU compatible applicable law and jurisdiction clauses
- Compatible with GPL
Open Source Observatory and Repository project (OSOR), an European Commission IDABC initiative meets some QualiPSo members.
The aim of this meeting was to try to find synergies between two European Commission projects:
- OSOR that will (i) setup an open source repository for the European Public Administrations, (ii) provide news, guidance, links, contacts concerning Free Libre Open Source Software, (iii) providing technical, organisational, and legal support to apply Open Source concepts inside the Public Administrations.
- QualiPSo is a unique alliance of European, Brazilian and Chinese ICT industry players, SMEs, governments and academics to help industries and governments fuel innovation and competitiveness with Open Source software. To meet that goal, the QualiPSo consortium intends to define and implement the technologies, processes and policies to facilitate the development and use of Open Source software components, with the same level of trust traditionally offered by proprietary software.QualiPSo is the ever largest Open Source initiative funded by the European Commission, and is funded under EU’s sixth framework program (FP6), as part of the Information Society Technologies (IST) initiative. QualiPSo is launched in synergy with Europe’s technology initiatives such as NESSI and Artemis.
In short, to setup a repository for Public Administrations we need (i) Quality Software factories reviewing the quality/reliability of the free softwares available on the forge, (ii) best practices concerning the development of Open Source Software are shared accross organisations, (iii) state of the art stacks reliable and usable by any organisation; many deliverables that will be delivered by QualiPSo team during the next 4 years.