Subject: Re: Software as a public service
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 19:40:37 +0100

The question has been considered very concretely on french discussion list,
as some people are seeking public funding to create accounting software
for private enterprises.

The issue may depend on the type of software.

Clearly, if the public entity has an interest in having this software
free, it can decide to scratch its itch, and to promote a cooperative
development for its own best interest.

There are also cases where one can consider that the state has an
obligation to provide the software.  For example in France, we
consider that education till the age of 16 is a fundamental right.  If
it implies using certain types of software, then it should be provided
by the education system.  And then, we are back to the first case.

But in the case of software that is intended only for private use, and
may compete with software developed on private money, things are much
more disputable.

However, it is clear that, even if competition may have to be
preserved (keeping out the state), the state should be able to step in
to ensure interoperability, and hence competition.

I assume, of course, that software patents have no legal existence.


PS I believe that proprietary software can survive only in niches.  It
is an obsolete economic model.  However, it may survive but such
artificial, anti-competitive and anti-economic legal means, such as
software patents.

Which does not mean that the programmers should not be paid.

* Sergio Montoro Ten <>, le 14-03-05, a écrit:
> I'd like to propose the topic of discussion:
> Should a goverment pay a software development for its release as Open
> Source?
> Given that a piece of software is interesting enought to a sufficiently
> large number of people,
> would it be all right that a public entity provide it as a free service much
> like other physical infrastructures?
> This may seem unbeliveable in the USA but does not sound so strange in
> Europe.
> Sergio Montoro

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