The French government policy on free software is now available in English. The translation was published earlier today by April, a French advocacy organisation. It is not an official translation. However, experts involved in the creation of the original French text have not found misinterpretations, the advocacy group commented. The group hopes other public administrations will use the guideline to their benefit.
The guideline was signed last September by France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, hence the French nickname 'Circulaire Ayrault'. The document has been written by an interdepartmental working group, organised by DISIC ("Direction interministérielle des systèmes d'information et de communication", Interdepartmental Direction Directorate of information systems and communication).
April immediately started making the document widely available. It first provided a transcription of the text, since the policy document is available on the government's website only as a PDF containing images, not editable text. The group later transferred the text to Etherpad, allowing translators to collaborate on the English text.
Over twenty volunteers translated most of the text in less than a month, but a few terms proved tricky. April, in their introduction to the translated guideline: "The French document uses the word 'souche' or the expression 'souche libre' which is a bit difficult to translate into English. In most case, 'souche' or 'souche libre' simply refers to free software."
A final review took place the past month, after which the text was presented to DISIC.
The Circulaire Ayrault got many positive reviews from those involved in free and open source software. Lionel Allorge, president of April, called the guideline good news for the French administration. "We are very pleased about the will expressed in this circular to work together with free software communities and its companies." Patrice Bertrand, chair of the French Free Software Council, representing free software firms, said: "Official pronouncements are rarely as clear and committed as this one." Alexandre Zapolsky, CEO of the French open source IT service provider Linagora, concluded that the French government has "chosen for free software, supporting an industry of the future, job creation, growth and competitiveness."
The "Ayrault Memorandum" (html)
The "Ayrault Memorandum" (pdf)
The "Ayrault Memorandum" (odt)
Announcement by April
Joinup news item
Joinup news item