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davorg (18)

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Friday June 20, 2003
04:44 AM

U.K. urged to hold back on open source

[ #12963 ]

This article talks about a report by Intellect which urges the UK Government to remove the GPL from the list of acceptable licenses for government software contracts.

Intellect said it has no objection to the use of open-source licenses as such, but is strongly opposed to the use of the GPL. The group argued that the GPL's conditions would prevent the government from profiting from its software, and could estrange proprietary software companies.

"When the Government decides to develop software using a restrictive licensing base, such as the GNU GPL, (it) should be aware that this would prevent it from deriving commercial gain from any subsequent derivative programs and prevent or severely limit the opportunities to work with commercial companies on such projects," Intellect said in the response paper.

The report is full of FUD which is unsurprising as it's backed by companies (including Microsoft) who have a lot to lose if open source becomes the norm in UK Government work.

The paper in question is also online.

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  • by ajt (2546) on 2003.06.20 5:29 (#21272) Homepage Journal

    Given that the UK government appears to be in Microsoft's pocket already, what difference will this make?

    There are arguments for and against the GNU GPL, but somehow I think that the government should use and develop GPL software, just to prevent some corrupt/incompetent government official giving away a monopoly. If they work on and with GPL, then it gets out there for everyone.

    If it's sensitive stuff, then the government isn't going to do anything with it anyway - for example the UK GCHQ "invented and implemented" PGP before anyone else (no one else has yet admitted having it earlier), but only used it internally without telling anyone else.

    -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
    • by drhyde (1683) on 2003.06.20 6:17 (#21274) Homepage Journal
      Of course, even if they do base classified work on the GPL they won't have to release the source - they only need to make the source available if they distribute binaries. No distribution of classified binaries == no required distribution of classified source.
      • by ajt (2546) on 2003.06.20 7:10 (#21276) Homepage Journal

        Exactly, the government isn't going to distribute something if it's classified, independent of the licence.

        I like open source software, and my stuff is GPLed, and I understand that others choose different licensing conditions, which I respect. However I don't think the government shouldn't favour one vendor over another by favouring closed source software. GPL protects everyone from unfair advantage and government patronage (or incompetence).

        -- "It's not magic, it's work..."