Subject: Re: Software as a public service
From: DV Henkel-Wallace <>
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 15:40:47 -0800

 Tue, 15 Mar 2005 15:40:47 -0800
On 14 Mar 2005, at 15:45, Bernard Lang wrote:
> * DV Henkel-Wallace <>, le 14-03-05, a écrit:
>> - If the government pays for software  to be written  [...]
>> I think that such software should be explicitly placed into
>> the public domain, including source.  Much as I love the GPL I think
>> its use in this context would be unjust.
> and why is it unjust ?    ... other than ideology ?

La liberté, est-elle choix ou opportunité?

I personally feel that the GPL is the right license for  me  to use, 
and I (although it's none of my business really) feel that Apache, 
Mozilla, Apple, etc (much less the "open source" guys) ought to all use 

But it is wrong as for a government to add any licensing constraint to 
its work as it is for them, for example, to add more than the most 
minimal constraint on the use of a public park.  You can ban 
barbequeues on public safety grounds, but once you allow them you can't 
restrict their use to vegetarians.

Likewise you could ban the misrepresentation of financial data filed 
with the government, but not who gets to read said information.

> Why should
> a community of people (public money is not necessarily state money)
> have less right than a company to choose a licence in its own best
> interest ?

"A community of people" could be anything -- the Apache foundation is a 
"community of people."  But the taxpayer is not given a choice as to 
whether or not to pay taxes, and only limited, indirect control over 
how that money is spent.  If the people spending it were given a choice 
over licensing plans that would open an opportunity for a "sweet deal" 
for certain others.  That concern is the point of open meeting laws and 
other oversight mechanisms and it applies here as much as anywhere 

Putting software in the public domain means that  anyone  with  any 
objective  can use the result.

> But I am very surprised to see such weak interest in interoperability,
> and open standards (meaning, of course, not encumbered by IP).
> That is the main public policy issue.

That is true, but really none of this discussion concerns free software 
 business  issues anyway.  I don't think I'll continue on this thread.


> Most of what we consider adequate or inadequate for the state to do is
> just ideology.  So let's have some arguments.

This issue may not be bridgeable, I don't know.  After all Euro notes 
bear a copyright notice; USD, AUD, GBP and JPY do not.