Three French public agencies released details of a new software licence last week that they say is similar to the General Public License (GPL) but tailored for the market in France.
According to its creators, CeCILL was written with French researchers specifically in mind, but can be used by any entity or individual to distribute their software freely and legally.
A lot of free software is currently distributed under the GPL, with other licences such as the Berkeley Software Distribution also popular.
The three departments behind CeCILL say that their licence shares the principles of the GPL, but is designed around French, rather than American, law.
"To date, the majority of French free software are diffused under Anglo-Saxon licences, in particular the General Public License, because free software was initially developed in the United States," said the Commission of Atomic Energy (ECA), the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA), and the National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS).
Some critics, though, have suggested that the French simply wanted to have 'their own' open-source licence. The French branch of the Free Software Foundation told ZDNet France that they were "shocked" that ECA, INRIA and CNRS had not worked with the FSF on the issue, and had instead quietly developed their own version.
The FSF also denied that there was anything wrong with the GPL, pointing out that it is already used by businesses working in France, and even by the French government.
Click here to download a .PDF file of CeCILL.