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French parliament makes free software law for higher education

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France's higher education institutes must offer their digital services and learning resource materials primarily as free software, the country's parliament decided Tuesday afternoon. A new law on higher education and research comes with an article giving priority to free software.

A joint committee of France's Senate and National Assembly had already agreed on the wording of the new law last month. It was the second attempt in three months time to adopt a law giving free software pre-eminence. Their first attempt, adding it to a plan to reorganise state schools, was substantially rephrased by the government when it came up for discussion in the National Assembly. This time the government could only oppose or accept the provision, but not change it.

First step

Linagora, a firm providing ICT services around free and open source software, thanked the senators and deputies for their vote. In a statement, the company's CIO, Alexandre Zapolsky, argued that it is necessary for public administrations to give priority to free software. "It corresponds 100 percent with its values ​​and goals." The company hopes that other parts of government will follow.

Free software advocacy group April in a statement welcomed the decision. "For the first time in France, a preference for free software is enshrined in law." The group added that it had contributed much to the discussion. It considers the law a first step towards a public policy in favour of free software. "Free software ensures that everyone has access to information, and that students are not mere consumers of digital products."

More information:

Linagora statement (in French)
April statemen (in French)
ITR news item (in French)
Zone Numerique news item (in French)
ZDNET news item (in French)
Toolinux news item (in French)
Le Magit news item (in French)

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