European Commission investigates open source

Group looking into legal, funding, patent issues around projects such as Apache, Linux and EROS

The European Commission has received a report from a team assigned to investigate the phenomenon of free software and come up with recommendations on what funding the European Community should provide for open source ventures.

The European Working Group on Libre Software has been appointed to analyse the issues surrounding the open source movement or "libre software" as it refers to it. Libre means free speech in French and the group feels that this more accurately defines the idea of open source than the term "free software".

The group consists of open source experts from various European countries as well as members of the European commission.

Britain's representative Ben Laurie, who is a core member of the Apache Group and director of Web development firm A.L. Digital, says that the creation of the group is a positive step although is remains to be seen what difference it may make. "It's difficult to know how successful it will be," he says. "Basically a couple of European commissioners have been given to job of going out and finding out about open source. But hopefully people will read it and comment on it and some senior commissioners will get to read it."

The Group recommends that more funding should be made available for lesser-known open source projects such as the highly secure EROS (Extremely Reliable Operating System). It also suggests that European law on patenting software should be clarified for independent developers.

It is possible to download a PDF file of the paper presented by the group to the European Commission here or visit a Web page outlining the recommendations here.

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