iDABC related: EUPL, OSOR, things…

Yesterday I attended the IDABC Open Source Software 2007 event in Free Software World Conference in Badajoz.

One of the first presentations of the session was on the EUPL, European Union Public License; which has been approved by the European Commission on January 7th, this year . The final text for the license is here.

Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz from Unisys made the very-few-slides presentation, and basically told two things:

  • EUPL was necessary to cope with EU languages, EU regulations, and warranty conditions. It’s not put forward as an alternative to GPL, but came out of to relieve some uneasiness from the EU public organizations, and governments.
  • EUPL is “compatible” with GPL, means if you use GPL code in an EUPL program you may license it with GPL, or if you use EUPL code in a GPL program you may license it with GPL; by the way these “may”s are “have to”s from GPL perspective, thus “compatibility” means it may be engulfed in GPL. It is stressed that you have to make some changes to an EUPL code in order to license it under GPL, but this is just a trivial condition.

I have had several concerns regarding EUPL, since the day I’ve first heard about it. I think it is not necessary to invent a new free license, which, eventually might be enforced throughout EU, as an alternative to GPL. I think it is more clever to use a second document for EU public organization contracts, which will be some kind of amendment or addendum to GPL. I addressed two questions to Patrice-Emmanuel, here they are and summary of replies from him and Barbara Held of IDABC:

  • What are the differences between EUPL and GPL? Only minor things related to the three problem areas? Or something in addition? We are not comparing the licenses, the EUPL is a very simple document, it is not accepted to solve all the problems, we are not going to evangelize EUPL as an licensing alternative.
  • What is the position of EUPL regarding the hijacked freedoms that RMS talks about? DRM, patents, Tivo-ization, and such? Where does EUPL stands as compared to GPLv2 and GPLv3? The EUPL came out of certain necessities, so it is not involved with issues which are more open to discussion.

My position regarding EUPL is not changed, I think it is an unnecessary and somehow irrelevant EU digression. For some other views you may have a look at here or here. Just as a reminder, I have negative to very-negative thoughts about the GPLv3, as well. The rest of the session was focused on the infamous OSOR (Open Source Observatory and Repository). The main idea is to collect the free software prepared for public organizations in a central repository, so as other public organizations will be able to reuse them. The project has been tendered and the bid went to Unisys. Now they, and their project partners, are working on OSOR, which will be operational late this year.

OK, I, as always, some concerns regarding this OSOR thing. First, yesterday we’ve heard about several repository projects from all over Europe, some being highly successful and/or ambitious. Among them were three (yes, 3) repositories from three different juntas/xuntas from Spain. Apparently their audience is quite limited, their applicability and effectiveness is highly controversial; still they are insisting to have these local repositories. I don’t think (correct me if I’m wrong) these junta/xunta territories are large enough markets to have some scale economy for reuse of free software only within the territory. They have to get together, I understand their concerns regarding cultural differences and importance of local administrations, still it does not look quite right to me.

The second, and the more important, concern is about the profile of stakeholders. In previous OSOR meetings it was possible to see people from some vendor companies or agencies which have very strong interactions with commercial world. In Badajoz there only are academicians, public organizations, and EU staff. Without the guys sitting on the other side of the table, I don’t think this will work! I’ve asked questions along these lines to the project group in November meeting, and have not got convincing answers. Things have not got better in three months, and the future of OSOR does not seem too bright…

Later edit: The language I’ve used in the last paragraph have been found offensive by the IDABCE/EU officials. I’ve smoothed the terms a bit, though I insist that the OSOR project is not a wise invesment on EU side.

More later edit: The opinions expressed here are solely mine, and does not represent neither Pardus project, UEKAE, TUBITAK nor any other entity. If you are interested in the official Turkish position and policiy regarding OSOR and other issues please visit the related State Planning Organization web site.

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