In recent decades, free software, also known as “Free Libre Open Source Software)” (FLOSS), has become a strategic resource. Unlike proprietary software, it can be used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed freely.
Free software, and licenses for distribution, allow freedom to learn, teach and cooperate in the construction of resources and knowledge that benefit society as a whole, and it allows for transparency in information processing. In combination with open standards, free software makes possible equitable competition and cooperation by creating game fields in which any person, group of people or organization can participate and innovate free of software dependencies, formats and specifications. In addition, free technologies are more efficient, as they favor interoperability, modularity and reuse of codes.
Many state, regional and local governments have set the use and development of these free technologies as a strategic objective. The European Commission recognises its value in its Digital Agenda for Europe, as part of its EU2020 strategy. Open source and free software have been fundamental pillars of the European FP6 and FP7 project financing programme, and Horizon 2020 for Innovation and Research. Its strategic importance has also been confirmed by the EC Open Source Observatory and the World Bank’s InfoDev report.
We ratify the definition of free software maintained by the Free Software Foundation (proposed by Richard Stallman in 1984):
A program is “free software” if the program’s users have the four essential freedoms:
- 0 The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.
- 1 The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish.
- 2 The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
- 3 The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes.