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pterjan's diary


2009-02-01

  European Union and Free Software

I was sorting some paper today and found some that I got during Open World Forum last December.

One is from European Open Source Observatory Repository. One of the interesting things it mentions is EUPL. I had never heard of this Free Software license (with copyleft). I'm not in favor of creating yet another license but this one has something that other don't have. It was first approved by the European Commission 2 years ago in English, French and German. Then last year it was validated in all the other official languages. So there is a license officially provided in 22 languages and officially validated to be compatible with European Union's law and with each European country's law.

Another paper was a presentation of some of the European funded research projects about open source software. I knew several of them as Mandriva is part of 5 of the 12 listed, but was surprised to find out that PyPy was an European funded project (from 2004 to 2007). So, sometimes European research project create software that is at the same time working and useful for a lot of people!

Update: As someone here pointed out, yes some other European projects achieve concrete results, like Nepomuk which was strongly integrated into KDE4, or EDOS which watches debian quality. The case of PyPy was different for me because I heard of it few years ago as something working very well and used by several people I know.

Today's TSUKKOMI(Total: 22) [Add a TSUKKOMI]
  Miguel Branco (2009-02-01 13:28)

I appreciate your comments on the license but I'd like to point out what's the reasoning behind the EUPL is, because it's not that is 'another' license. It means a lot. First, EUPL was created to be similar and compatible with GPL and other similar licenses so (european)free software projects could be even dual licensed, ie. GPL and EUPL. Second, and more important, is that GPL and other Free Software licenses lacked the right terminology necessary to be completely legal under European Laws so EUPL was meant to dispels any legal uncertainty surrounding free software licenses. For example, until very recently CC licenses were _illegal_ in Spain because it was stablish that abandoning the intellectual property over some creation was _not_ possible, in other words, releasing anything to the public domain was not legal. Fortunately the law was changed recently and CC licenses are absolutely legal under Spanish laws. Together with EUPL, this means that any free software is fully legal in Spain and all EU. With EUPL this hold true for any country on the EU.<br><br>As an European I'm very proud of the EU council because its labour in favour of free software, and specially I admire the work of the free competition (=antitrust) office who has had the balls to tell things as they are to Microsoft, Apple, Intel and so on whenever they abuse the market.

  Iain Nicol (2009-02-01 16:03)

Interesting. I hadn't heard of this licence before either.<br><br>Looking at the EUPL, it does have some obnoxious clauses, like a "choice of law" clause (certainly some people on debian-legal think that makes a license non-free, though there's not consensus).<br><br>Other problems: the preamble doesn't inspire; it talks of "Intellectual Property Rights", but not freedom. The grant of rights of use to the software is limited to that which "the applicable law permits so". That's troubling, because maybe if e.g. you distribute DVD playing software, then the copyright owner of the software could sue you. Also, the warranty is written strangely, making the not necessarily true claim that the is software "is continuously improved by numerous contributors".<br><br>Thankfully, the EUPL explicitly allows you to re-license a derivative work under a "Compatible Licence". The GPL is listed as such a licence, but only v2. However, the EUPL also lets you re-license under Cecill v2. Then the CeCILL licence allows re-licensing under GPL v2+!

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