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Government support of open source falls short

InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - American and European governments are hailing open source innovation, but failing to act aggressively on patent reform

Two news items over the last week signalled to me that the benefits of open source, open data, and other artifacts of the meshed Internet society are making it through to policy makers. A new section of the White House website and a speech by a European Commission political prove that progress is under way. But when it comes to legal support, both stop short of advocating real open innovation.

Open source spans the Atlantic
Last week, the White House launched an unusual website that offers a glimpse of the Administration's thinking about IT. The White House Developer Page (captioned "Connecting citizen developers with the tools they need to unlock government data") provides a catalog of resources available to software developers to be able to manipulate data about the workings of government. With sections on open government, open data, and open source, it's clear that the benefits of empowering citizen-creator-consumers appeal to the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, I attended a conference in Brussels at which Neelie Kroes, a senior vice president of the European Commission, announced her plans to earmark 5 percent -- maybe more -- of the Commission's budget for open and innovative solutions from small and medium-size businesses while also seeking ways to stimulate more open innovation. As if anticipating her move, the French government signalled plans to promote open source adoption and allocate the money saved on licenses for investment in open technology.

Kroes has a record of intelligent advocacy of open solutions, especially open standards, and was the Commissioner responsible for sanctioning Microsoft following its antitrust conviction in Europe. This is not the first time Kroes has been an advocate of open source, and her stance has previously been rewarded with a cabinet portfolio in the European Commission with responsibility for Europe's digital agenda.