UNDP/UNESCO FOSS Consultation (24-25 November 2003) Paris, France
The software industry today generates yearly revenues in excess of US$300 Billion (UNCTAD 2003 Development Report). Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) offers viable and equitable models for distribution and production of this wealth. FOSS makes its source code public and allows perhaps even motivates users to change the source code and re-distribute the derivative software. Liberating the source code supports broad collaborative development in software production, promotes innovation by users according to their needs, better interoperability with other programs, and the customization of software to meet different commercial, regulatory, cultural and linguistic requirements.
Most importantly, in particular for developing countries, FOSS is an avenue for economic and technological empowerment, and allows todays and tomorrows Information Technology (IT) experts and users to acquire skills and advance their knowledge rapidly. Low entry costs of FOSS technology enables developing countries to leapfrog to the most advanced stages of research and development.
a. Policy Issues
i. Raising awareness of FOSS and related Intellectual Property Rights issues. ii. Promotion of FOSS as a global common good contributing to development iii. Adoption of policies to ensure that FOSS is equally considered in public procurement processes iv. Promotion of FOSS based business models v. Promotion of FOSS to End Users vi. Collection of statistics, indicators and best practices on FOSS to measure development and utilisation at national, regional and international levels vii. Adoption of FOSS as a basis for open standards in the public sector viii. Promotion of a patent-free regulatory system regarding standards, software and algorithms ix. Enhancement of cooperation between countries on FOSS promotion, development and use x. Creation of awareness on FOSS licensing and standardization issues xi. Taking advantage of FOSS to promote multilingualism, cultural diversity and use of the different languages in Cyberspace xii. Making use of FOSS to promote the equitable participation in Cyberspace: women and men, ethnic and indigenous groups, people with special needs, etc. xiii. Integration of FOSS within the national e-strategies and ICT policies of developing countries xiv. Mandating that all software developed using public funds be distributed under FOSS licenses unless there are valid reasons to the contrary.