The Morin-Desailly report in the French Senate: new propositions for more free software and no software patents in the European Union

An information report by French Senator Catherine Morin-Desailly, in behalf of the joint committee “New role and new strategy for the European Union in global Internet governance”, was published earlier this July. The report (in French) is available in PDF (398 pages) and HTML formats.

This report has a clear and documented section on free software (starting page 267), for which April congratulates the Senator and committee members. Two noteworthy propositions deal with software patents and expansion of free software use.

Proposition no. 42: ensure preservation of the European principle of software unpatentability (page 271)

In this context, the report incidentally recalls Candidate Hollande's 2012 pledge, according to which it should be ensured “that the implementation of the Community Patent will not be an opportunity to legitimate software patents,” and asks for this pledge to be renewed today. This request is all the more important that the US Supreme Court has just been restricting software patents. The European Union must follow suit and ban them permanently.

Proposition no. 43: encourage the development of free software through its integration into public procurement contracts, and through the imposition of open standards, provided the proficiency in using this software and these standards is enhanced (page 272)

In this respect, the report also asks the government to go further than what is currently in effect, in particular as a result of the Ayrault circular on the good use of free software in public services, and to “encourage the progressive migration of an increasing part of their computer base toward free software.” Moreover, the report preconises "to encourage free software use in computer science education" which is a longstanding April request.

These propositions address the central themes of April's positions and action. The report also mentions the possibility of prioritizing free software in all government services, as already done in Italy.

April hopes these very constructive propositions will be followed with concrete action, especially as regards free software prioritization, which is already present in the legislation on Higher Education and Research. It therefore invites the lawmakers to act on those propositions.

Other important issues, including NSA spying and the dangers of user lock-in, are also addressed in the report. April will publish a detailed analysis of those at a later date. You may also read the analysis of the Conseil national du logiciel libre (National Council for Free Software) [fr], which has welcomed the free software section of this report.