The European Commission (EC) yesterday adopted new rules on Open Source Software (OSS). The rules will allow the public to access its software solutions “whenever there are potential benefits for citizens, companies, or other public services”. The EC holds intellectual property rights in a large portfolio of computer programs. e.g. Legislation Editing Open Software.
In a press release, the Commission said that investment in open source leads to “four times higher returns” on average. The conclusion is based on EC’s study on ‘The impact of OSS and Hardware on technological independence, competitiveness, and innovation in the EU economy’. The move is a part of the EU’s digital strategy to achieve its target of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.
All EC Open Source Software available in one place
EC will make its software available as open-source in one single repository to facilitate access and reuse. Further, it will check each software before its release, to avoid security risks, data protection, or intellectual property issues. The Commission will grant the software under the European Union Public License (version 1.2).
With the move, the dissemination of software under an open-source license will no longer require a Commission Decision. EC’s software developers will be able to contribute to open-source projects. EC will also review earlier software that has the potential to bring value outside the Commission.
Speaking on the decision, the Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn said:
“The new rules will increase transparency and help the Commission, as well as citizens, companies and public services across Europe, benefit from open source software development. Pooling of efforts to improve the software and the co-creation of new features lowers costs for the society, as we also benefit from the improvements made by other developers. This can also enhance security as external and independent specialists check software for bugs and security flaws.”
However, the decision does not create any obligation for the EC to share any software under an open-source license. The Commission could still hold rights to software whose publication could represent a security risk or hamper confidentiality.
You can read the new rules here.