EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘Parliament under pressure for shunning free software’:

While we sympathise with the FFII petition to the European Parliament on streaming plenary sessions, we are equally concerned about broad categorical mandates with regard to software procurement. While the notion of “non-discrimination” is worthy, the idea of mandates is a slippery slope. If I only have a slow modem connection in my home, should I circulate a petition to prevent the distribution of broadband content by the Parliament because it is discriminatory? In truth, there are free alternatives for viewing Widows Media including TurboLinux, Xine, Real and InterVideo.

Obviously the agenda here is political and not the public clamouring to watch more plenaries on their computers but contrary to the rhetoric of a vocal minority, commercial software is not the playground of big business, but primarily of inventive SMEs thriving in niche markets. Only the protection of their intellectual property permits those small business innovators to create growth and jobs.

Commercial software must therefore be allowed to compete on a level-playing field with other software types. Public procurement decisions should be based on technology neutrality, allowing governments to buy software on its merit and not through categorical preferences. To advise otherwise is to demand the imposition of one business model over another.

As technologists, let’s work together to devise a solution to the streaming challenge presented to the Parliament that does not involve overthrowing a solid technology but is creative in delivering that technology to a broader audience.

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