HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! We'll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.
HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! We'll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.

Free Software Foundation Europe Leads Call For Taxpayer-Funded Software To Be Licensed For Free Re-use

from the public-money,-public-code dept

Free Software Foundation Europe has a new campaign -- "Public money, public code" -- which poses the following question:

Why is software created using taxpayers' money not released as Free Software?

And goes on:

We want legislation requiring that publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made publicly available under a Free and Open Source Software licence. If it is public money, it should be public code as well.

It certainly seems pretty ridiculous that code written for public bodies, whether by external companies or contractors paid by the public purse, or produced internally, should not be released as free software. But aside from this being a question of fairness, the FSFE lists other reasons why it makes sense:

Tax savings

Similar applications don't have to be programmed from scratch every time.


Efforts on major projects can share expertise and costs.

Fostering innovation

With transparent processes, others don't have to reinvent the wheel.

An open letter on the site, supported by dozens of organizations and open for individual signatures, provides a few more:

Free and Open Source Software is a modern public good that allows everybody to freely use, study, share and improve applications we use on a daily basis.

Free and Open Source Software licences provide safeguards against being locked in to services from specific companies that use restrictive licences to hinder competition.

Free and Open Source Software ensures that the source code is accessible so that backdoors and security holes can be fixed without depending on one service provider.

Considered objectively, it's hard to think of any good reasons why code that is paid for by the public should not be released publicly as a matter of course. The good news is that this "public money, public code" argument is precisely the approach that open access advocates have used with considerable success in the field of academic publishing, so there's hope it might gain some traction in the world of software too.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2017 @ 7:17am


    Wouldn't all those details be covered in the contract used to define the purchase?

    afaik, If it is a work for hire, the writer is paid and does not retain any copyright/patent/trademark/whatever. In this case, denver could share or not, is this really an issue?

    If denver purchases an off the shelf item, it most likely is not open source and there are etrms and conditions etc

    Not sure what your point is.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.