The widespread use of illegally copied software in Bulgaria is a strong barrier to Open Source alternatives, says Krastyo Lambev, a Bulgarian IT expert.
"Even in public administration, the common use of unlicensed software is the main obstacle for Open Source", says Lambev, an IT expert and chairman of Cultura Animi Foundation. The NGO is trying to increase Bulgaria's social and cultural global participation.
Lambev cites a government study, showing that in 2002 78 per cent of all software in Bulgaria is used in violation with the software licenses. This percentage included operating systems and office packages used in all levels of state administration.
Pirated copies of Microsoft Windows and Office are still easily available and at low cost at the central book market in Sofia, describes Lambev. "That is, if you have not copied it for free from a friend or neighbour."
The average Bulgarian consumer feels no qualms when purchasing Microsoft products. "He would never pay the official price, and that means a switch to free and Open Source alternatives is never properly considered."
Not even the government acknowlegdes the price difference between proprietary software and Open Source software, he says. "Six years ago Bulgaria settled the issue of illegal software in a a long term contract with Microsoft. The decision cost the taxpayers over 30 millions dollar- an unbelievable amount for one of the poorest countries in the EU."
The Bulgarian ministry of State Administration's official position onOpen Source software is that the applications do no meet requirements for support and security, says Lambev. "Open Source software is comparable with democracy. Both are based on principles of freedom", says Lambev. "It seems that for IT, Bulgaria has not yet shaken off its totalitarian past."
© European Communities 2007
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