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Translation of France's free software policy crowd-sourced

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April, a French free software advocacy group, is calling on volunteers to help translate into English the French government's new guidelines on free software. The group prepared an editable version of the 18-page French document available on it's web site yesterday. The first two pages have already been translated.

"Any help will be greatly appreciated", says Frédéric Couchet, April's director. The idea to translate France's comprehensive free software policy into English floated at the Open World Forum conference, which took place in Paris last week.

In a statement published last month, April expressed the hope that the guidelines would result in a proactive policy "that will make the use and development of free software in government a priority."

So far, the policy document was available only as a PDF containing images, not editable text. April immediately provided a transcription, made available on the organisation's wiki. Yesterday it took the next step, making it available as an Etherpad document, allowing real-time document collaboration.

Comprehensive policy
The French free software policy, signed by France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, was made public on 19 September. The guideline tells public administrations to favour the use of free software, as this helps to lower IT costs, provide flexible IT solutions and increases competition in the IT market.

The thorough guideline was written by a working group led by two departments, the Inter-ministerial Department for Information Systems and Communication and the Department of Information Systems of the Ministry of Culture. It recommends that public administrations build-up open source expertise and start pooling their resources, work with communities of open source developers and commit contributions of code to the projects.

"It is an excellent guideline", François Elie, president of Adullact, the French organisation for civil servants developing open source, commented on Friday. "Unfortunately it is only a guideline and not a law. Some public administrations will find ways to work around it."

More information:
Editable text of annexe circulaire no 5608-SG
Statement by April
Annexe circulaire no 5608-SG (pdf, images)