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How could open licensing protect democracy? - The 7 pillars of Wisdom

Published on: 03/12/2023 Last update: 15/01/2024 Discussion

The OSOR turns 15 celebration (21 November 2023) gave speakers the opportunity to highlight the role of Digital Commons in implementing a user centric vision: supporting the rule of law, inclusion, transparency, accountability and collaboration. Ultimately four words summarize all that quite well: “People and rights first”!

The advent of the digital era served as driving force for the adoption of major EU legal instruments. After initial directives, we welcome regulations in various fields (PSI, Data, GDPR, SDGR, AI and very soon the Interoperable Europe Act).

But knowing that the "open" character of digital commons results actually and legally from the applied license, it looks useful to question to what extent this open license could contribute in supporting our global approach, placing the citizen at the centre and complementing other legal instruments in reinforcing the rule of law.

This is the purpose of our discussion, titled without excessive modesty “7 pillars of Wisdom” (but that’s to provoke reactions). Mainly for the public sector, it is about complementing the principles of free software and open source, and it is about seeing to what extent the EUPL license addresses these requirements. Why the EUPL in this context? Because it is already the default license applied to the European Commission software distributions[1] and because it is the license that all interconnected national repositories will have to propose (without exclusivity) according to the Interoperable Europe Act[2]. This is reason enough to improve our knowledge of its provisions.

You will find the paper attached.

[1] Decision C(2021) 8759 final – article 5: “the open source licence granted by the Commission shall be the EUPL” (with exceptions, i.e. where the use of another open source license is made obligatory due to reciprocal clauses).

[2] Interoperable Europe Act - Article 8.3 :
When a public sector body or an institution, body or agency of the Union provides a portal, catalogue or repository with similar functions, it shall take the necessary measures to ensure interoperability with the Interoperable Europe portal. Where such portals collect open source solutions, they shall allow for the use of the European Union Public Licence (EUPL).


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Last update: 14/02/2024

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