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[P]
France May Require Open Source For All Software; MS Not Too Happy

By evro in News
Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 09:25:50 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

According to this Wired article, a proposed French law seeks to require software companies to release the source code when software is sold to state institutions. The article focuses on MS-France's reaction; the government apparently comprises a large portion of MS's French business. As would be expected, MS is none too happy about this law -- as are, I imagine, many other software firms.


"It's a philosophy of openness, and transparency -- and true equality of access for all," said Pierre Cohen, one of three Socialist parliamentarians who drafted the proposal

Sounds to me like the GPL being written into law. The article doesn't mention the law's chances of being passed, and I imagine that if it was actually passed into law MS would most likely end its contracts with the French government, considering its unwillingness to consider opening the source code to Windows to settle the antitrust trial.

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France May Require Open Source For All Software; MS Not Too Happy | 34 comments (34 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Ahh, state-mandated Free(speech) so... (2.00 / 1) (#11)
by fluffy grue on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 11:04:04 PM EST

fluffy grue voted 1 on this story.

Ahh, state-mandated Free(speech) software. I can certainly think of worse things for a government to require. :)
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

While I think that it would be grea... (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by CmdrPinkTaco on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 11:12:56 PM EST

CmdrPinkTaco voted 1 on this story.

While I think that it would be great if M$ was forced to open up its code, I don't agree with making it law. However I wouldn't be surprised in the future if it did become law / public domain to sell the source code of a program instead of a binary. This would reduce software liability and would essentially be the best of both worlds, you get the source and the vendors still make money. Of course, Iam not going ot be completely naive/idealistic and overlook the great possibility that people will buy one copy of the source and send it all over the internet, but I am sure that there will have been some sort of source control / unlock implemented by then. Then again maybe not. Then again maybe I should just shut up and vote.
--
Guess CmdrPinkTaco's .sig and win - nothing :)

Re: While I think that it would be grea... (none / 0) (#19)
by nictamer on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 09:55:04 AM EST

What you don't seem to understand is that the proposed law would require source code access for software that's bought by the government, not anybody. It won't force every vendor to provide source code ... as long as they don't want the gov't's business.
--
Religion is for sheep.
[ Parent ]
Re: While I think that it would be grea... (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by bmetzler on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 10:02:18 AM EST

While I think that it would be great if M$ was forced to open up its code, I don't agree with making it law.

The law won't force Microsoft to open their source. Microsoft just won't be able to have the French government as a customer anymore.

Companies exist to meet customers demands. Customers just aren't a frill that companies can push around when they feel like it. If a customer makes certain demands (especially a big customer) the company has one of 2 choices. They can meet the demands, or they can tell the customer to find another source for the product. Either choice is right, it just depends on what the company feels is best for business.

Now, if the customer doesn't find another company to meet its demands, then they can go back and accept what the company offers. But in this case, I think that the customer will have no problem finding a company that will meet their demands.

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
Regardless of my bias, this just pl... (3.00 / 1) (#1)
by rusty on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 11:18:08 PM EST

rusty voted 1 on this story.

Regardless of my bias, this just plain makes sense. When a government commits to a software purchase, it's a *huge* commitment. How much money would they save if, when the vendor goes belly-up, they don't have to convert all their systems, but instead can just hire some hackers to maintain the code? Heaps, that's how much. I hope France does this, and I hope the US pays close attention (I used to work for the Government-- there are basically no coherent standards for software, even within the Federal Gov. alone-- it's a nightmare).

____
Not the real rusty

Get the facts straight. The french... (3.00 / 1) (#14)
by Commienst on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 11:27:14 PM EST

Commienst voted -1 on this story.

Get the facts straight. The french government wants to be able to see the source code of the software they use it does not have to be open software. The software companies would have to be willing to give the french government a license to use the source code of the programs they are buying.

Pointer to law (none / 0) (#25)
by kmself on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 03:23:27 PM EST

Actually, the article doesn't really do much in the way of describing particulars of the law, it's mostly about Microsoft's response. Anyone got a pointer to a more detailed analysis or a translation of the law itself?

The Wired article did say "freely available", and tosses out the phrase "open source". It appears that this is the intent, unless you have different information you'd care to share.

--
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Re: Get the facts straight. The french... (none / 0) (#33)
by evro on Thu Apr 27, 2000 at 08:38:42 PM EST

Well, I did include a link to the story, so even though I got it wrong (I guess I didn't articulate it very well) nobody was going to be too terribly confused by it.
---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"
[ Parent ]
Re: Get the facts straight. The french... (none / 0) (#34)
by Commienst on Fri Apr 28, 2000 at 11:27:41 PM EST

I can only speak for myself when I say this. I do not go reading every article linked in a writeup on Kuro5hin. I only read the articles to writeups I am truly interested in.

Not everyone read the article so some people depend on writeups for the information.

[ Parent ]

this could make things interesting.... (1.00 / 1) (#5)
by mr. creep on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 11:43:22 PM EST

mr. creep voted 1 on this story.

this could make things interesting.
--
brian - geeknik.net

I think this is a good topic but I ... (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by pvg on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 11:45:39 PM EST

pvg voted -1 on this story.

I think this is a good topic but I think the submission is a little misleading. I wish there was some option to say 'this submission needs to be corrected/expanded/beefed up/etc rather than a plain 'Dump it!'. The law does not require <a href=http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html>free software or even <a href=http://www.perens.com/OSD.html>OSI-style open source. See the <a href=http://www.osslaw.org/pr_en.html>press release and FAQ. The GPL is not being written into law.

This makes prefect sense, from an e... (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by hooty on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 12:55:39 AM EST

hooty voted 1 on this story.

This makes prefect sense, from an economic point of view. Governments should be doing this, so they are not beholden to some company.

I have always been puzzled by why A... (3.00 / 1) (#6)
by mattc on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 02:25:23 AM EST

mattc voted 1 on this story.

I have always been puzzled by why ANY government would use software that doesn't come with the source.. isn't it a security risk? What if a government agency wants to modify a program or patch a bug? What if Microsoft wants to get revenge on the US government for breaking them up? Sounds like a recipe for trouble.

Selling a government software without the source is like selling an army jeep with the hood welded shut! Ridiculous!

France is fucking crazy. To curb u... (1.00 / 1) (#9)
by skim123 on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 02:38:43 AM EST

skim123 voted 1 on this story.

France is fucking crazy. To curb unemployment they required that no workers be able to work over 35 hours a week. Ugh.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Re: France is fucking crazy. To curb u... (none / 0) (#20)
by nictamer on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 09:56:25 AM EST

I work to live, and do not live to work. YMMV
--
Religion is for sheep.
[ Parent ]
Re: France is fucking crazy. To curb u... (none / 0) (#23)
by mattc on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 10:49:35 AM EST

What's wrong with that? It seems like a good idea to me. 40 hours a week is too long anyway.. people should be allowed to spend more time with their families.

[ Parent ]
Re: France is fucking crazy. To curb u... (none / 0) (#30)
by skim123 on Thu Apr 27, 2000 at 05:53:38 PM EST

What's wrong with that!?!?! Dude, it restricts freedom! Why should the government be able to tell me that I can't work more than 35 hours a week! What if I want to work more, why in God's name should the government be able to tell me that I can't!?!

There were many protests by truckers when the law was first passed, since they enjoy the overtime pay.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: France is fucking crazy. To curb u... (none / 0) (#26)
by rongen on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 05:00:52 PM EST

I think this sort of thing is going to happen more in the future... It's all part of a movement towards mandating a fair distribution of resources. In this case employment is a resource. If eight people work 5 hours less a week: guess what? a ninth person can work! It's not that bad... I think what quite a few firms do is pay a little more (consequently more money in taxes) to have thier employees around for forty hours. There is that option... Then again I am no expert...

All that sharing of resources DOES seem kind of unamerican, though!! :)
read/write http://www.prosebush.com
[ Parent ]

Re: France is fucking crazy. To curb u... (none / 0) (#31)
by skim123 on Thu Apr 27, 2000 at 05:56:27 PM EST

It's all part of a movement towards mandating a fair distribution of resources. In this case employment is a resource. If eight people work 5 hours less a week: guess what? a ninth person can work! It's not that bad...

I am no economist, but wouldn't this hurt the economy? You are a company, paying your employee an hourly wage. They work less hours, so you need to hire a new worker - more taxes, more paperwork, etc. To compensate for this you need to raise prices, but everyone is making less since they can only get paid for 35 hours of work a week, not 40!

Yes, this sounds great for us who are salaried, but what about all of those who are paid hourly and who make ends meet with overtime?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: France is fucking crazy. To curb u... (none / 0) (#27)
by rongen on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 05:00:55 PM EST

I think this sort of thing is going to happen more in the future... It's all part of a movement towards mandating a fair distribution of resources. In this case employment is a resource. If eight people work 5 hours less a week: guess what? a ninth person can work! It's not that bad... I think what quite a few firms do is pay a little more (consequently more money in taxes) to have thier employees around for forty hours. There is that option... Then again I am no expert...

All that sharing of resources DOES seem kind of unamerican, though!! :)
read/write http://www.prosebush.com
[ Parent ]

Code escrow++ ... (none / 0) (#10)
by kmself on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 02:58:00 AM EST

kmself voted 1 on this story.

Code escrow++

Code escrow is fairly common practice among larger customers, and government customers in particular (I suspect the NSA prefers, and gets, sources), so on the one hand the demand for source isn't too extraordinary.

OTOH, from the Wired article, it appears that the French are looking not just for source, but for open source -- publicly available source code. This puts things in a different light.

It's interesting to note that there has been a pretty strong drive over the last quarter of the 20th Century to extend the length and scope of copyright, a fair bit of this driven by European tradition, and particularly the droit d'author (if I have my French right) -- or author's rights. Yes, Disney & Co. have had their influence as well. But much copyright law change in the US has been in the name of "normalization" with European law.

Interesting, then, in the dawn of the 21st Century, to see a pushback in copyright coming from the French themselves.

Then again, this could all just be political posturing (and likely is). There's a big difference between legislative proposal and executed law.

--
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.

Re: Code escrow++... (none / 0) (#28)
by rongen on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 05:06:04 PM EST

I suspect the NSA prefers, and gets, sources

Hmm, neat, I was just wondering if the NSA would just develop most of their systems in house...? I was thinking that the level of code audit they would need would take about 1/4 of the time of development for all but the largest projects... And also, more significantly, could require specialized or regulated knowledge... Further, a similar audit would have to be done everytime the software was modified (and the personnel working on it would need clearances, etc). Does anyone know if they do most of their stuff in house? Or maybe they just contract the mundane stuff out?

Just curious.
read/write http://www.prosebush.com
[ Parent ]

NSA sources (none / 0) (#29)
by kmself on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 09:04:06 PM EST

Actually, there was an item in the past month or so about NSA doing development on, or for, Linux. Forget the specifics, but a search through the Linux news sites ought to turn it up.

--
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

this is a few days old, the headlin... (2.00 / 1) (#7)
by Philipp on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 03:54:45 AM EST

Philipp voted -1 on this story.

this is a few days old, the headline is misleading, the whole thing will get nowhere --- a bit too sensational for me

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'

Tarnation, y'all know these damn Fr... (1.00 / 1) (#2)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 05:36:27 AM EST

Paul Dunne voted 1 on this story.

Tarnation, y'all know these damn Frenchies is all card-carryin' Communists! Jethro, fetch me my shotgun! We's a-gona burn us a liberal!
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/

Re: Tarnation, y'all know these damn Fr... (none / 0) (#32)
by skim123 on Thu Apr 27, 2000 at 05:58:53 PM EST

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee haw!

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Wow this is just mind blowing... no... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
by kraant on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 06:21:22 AM EST

kraant voted 1 on this story.

Wow this is just mind blowing... now to try and get it put into law in australia

Oh yeah go take a squiz at the proposal itself
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...

Has already been discussed on Slash... (2.00 / 1) (#12)
by Markee on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 07:36:37 AM EST

Markee voted -1 on this story.

Has already been discussed on Slashdot.

Re: Has already been discussed on Slash... (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by techt on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 09:41:58 AM EST

But this isn't Slashdot.
--
Proud member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation!
Are You? http://www.eff.org/support/joineff.html
[ Parent ]
<p style="border:solid; border-w... (2.00 / 1) (#3)
by hattig on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 08:00:12 AM EST

hattig voted 1 on this story.

<p style="border:solid; border-width:thick; background:#ffff55">"We will open up a Microsoft Research Center in France if this law does not get passed" "Oui, Zee Meecrosoft eez un grande softwere companee"

So this law will probably not be passed, and I don't see it as an attack against Microsoft, just a general attack against worries that closed source software might contain security backdoors so that America can steal state secrets etc.

Interesting... although the French... (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by marm on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 08:35:01 AM EST

marm voted 1 on this story.

Interesting... although the French are not the first government to head in this direction (note that GnuPG was mostly funded by the German Federal Government to provide secure, auditable free encryption) I'd like to know exactly what their rationale for demanding Open Source is - whether they really understand the benefits or are just jumping on the bandwagon or are using it to make a political statment. Ok, any way they win, but it would be nice to see if there were at least a few clueful governments around...

Hope this passes!... (1.00 / 1) (#4)
by bmetzler on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 09:25:50 AM EST

bmetzler voted 1 on this story.

Hope this passes!
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.

Re: France May Require Open Source For All Softwar (4.50 / 2) (#22)
by yebyen on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 10:23:59 AM EST

The headline is extremely misleading, as is the rest of the post (on K5). The French are not requiring all software they use to suddenly be open-sourced, they are requiring all software that they use to grant the French Government a license, as well as the source code. This license would almost definitely come with heavy NDA's for anyone who is to use the source code. This is not a step towards a GPL'd world, it is a step towards the security of the French Government. Still a good thing (unless you don't like the french).

--
yebyen:~$ man woman
No manual entry for woman
Re: France May Require Open Source For All Softwar (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by ramses0 on Wed Apr 26, 2000 at 11:15:31 AM EST

Absolutely well spoken.

I totally agree with the french on this one. If you use a proprietary format, you can be held totally hostage by a proprietary company. This is not a good situation for a country's government to be in. :^)=

That's actually one reason why I use linux as much as possible: If I use Microsoft products, I'm effectively locking myself out of my own work. (or I'd have to pay MS more $$). The best example: I type up a report for a class (in MS Word). I take it to a friends place to print it. Ooops, they only have wordpad, not MS Word. Sorry, you have been locked out of your work.

If I'd used HTML, I wouldn't have this problem. ;^)=

Now imagine a government office, where all of their work is done in MS Word. If MS Word all of a sudden starts sucking, or they found a better word processor. Oops. You can't use it, you're locked in to MS Word, at least for archival purposes.

--Robert
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]

France May Require Open Source For All Software; MS Not Too Happy | 34 comments (34 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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