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Peru Passes Free Software Law - That's Free as in Free Speech
Monday, September 26 2005 @ 07:55 PM EDT

Peru has passed its law encouraging procurement of Free Software by the government. Please note that the law is about Free Software, not Open Source, as opposed to proprietary software, distinguished by license. Here's an English translation published by the Asociación Peruana de Software Libre, and here is the law itself [PDF]. Technically, it's not official until it is published in the official Peruvian daily newspaper, but that is pretty much certain at this point. Note that the version Slashdot links to on OSI is not, I don't think, the final version. It's a useful translation, but be aware that certain articles in that beta version are not in the final version.

The law defines free software and proprietary software by means of the licenses, as per my own translation:

1. Free Software: is software whose license guarantees the following: unrestricted use of the program for any use; unrestricted right to study the code and figure out how the program works; to make and distribute copies of the program; to modify the program and freely distribute the modifications under the same free conditions as the original program.

2. Proprietary software: is software whose license does not permit you to do all or any of the things listed in the above definition.

As you can see from the flavor, so reminiscent of the freedoms guaranteed under the GPL, the stress is on free as in freedom.

Here it is in Spanish, from the law:

Software libre: Es aquel cuya licencia de uso garantiza las facultades de: - Uso irrestricto del programa para cualquier propósito; - Inspección exhaustiva de los mecanismos de funcionamiento del programa; - Confección y distribucion de copias del programa; y, - Modificación del programa y distribución libre tanto de las alteraciones como del nuevo programa resultante, bajo estas mismas condiciones.

2. Software propietario: Es aquel cuya licencia de uso no permite ninguna o alguna de las facultades previstas en la definición anterior.

And here is the translation from the Asociación Peruana de Software Libre:

1. Free Software That which licence garantees the following things: - Unlimited use of the program for any purpose; Inspection of the working mechanisms of the program; Free distribution of copies of the software, Modification of the program and free distribution both in the new program, as on the old one, under the same conditions.

2. Propietary software. It is that which license does not permit all of any of the faculties defined above.


Peru Passes Free Software Law - That's Free as in Free Speech | 314 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
corecciones aqui
Authored by: webster on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 08:11 PM EDT

>>>>>>> LN 3.0 >>>>>>>>>

[ Reply to This | # ]

Peru Passes Free Software Law - That's Free as in Free Speech
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 08:11 PM EDT

That sure is a shot accross the bow.

Would that be limited only to the GPL? It sure reads like Stallman. Are there
any other copyleft licenses?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Peru Passes Free Software Law - That's Free as in Free Speech
Authored by: teknomage1 on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 08:17 PM EDT
Great news! Also, I didn't know you spoke spanish, PJ.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Thred
Authored by: bbaston on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 08:21 PM EDT
You know the drill - see the instructions for clickable links on the 'post a
comment' page.

imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold
Have you donated to Groklaw this month? See bio for Copyright.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Peru Passes Free Software Law - That's Free as in Free Speech
Authored by: pfusco on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 08:29 PM EDT
Brings to mind the exchange of letters between M$ and a Peruvian Congressman (sorry but I forgotten his name). If you can get a chance and can find a copy of the letter I highly suggest your reading it. Its probably available on google someplace. Ah, I found it :))

her e it is

This has got to have Bill and Ballmer up in arms and staying up late tonight.

only the soul matters in the end

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's not clear
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 08:32 PM EDT
Disclaimer: I'm Spanish.

Besides defining precisely what is free (libre) software
and what is proprietary, the law does not specify that the
first is preferred over the second. It's just a
"definition", but "free software" is not mentioned again
in the text.

[ Reply to This | # ]

another one bites the dust?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 08:41 PM EDT
Well, almost.
Too many observers of the open versus closed software argument seem to think
it's all about beating the big closed source vendors (for this read microsoft,
and, well, no-one else).

That's not at all the case however. as MA stated, it's about ensuring freedoms
regarding both stored information and the software that accesses that

As a side effect this happens to cause the manopoly of microsoft to retreat
slightly, but that's not all that important. After all, in two or three hundred
years when people come to access information stored by government, will what
microsoft was doing in its first thirty years still matter?
No, what's important is that either they, or their successor in interest will
hold the rights to those data formats currently being used by many governmental
agencies to store data. So, the question is, how much would they charge for
access to archaic software to read this data?

You could argue that they wouldn't charge anything because it would be old
stuff. But then we hit the 'one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind' problem.
He who controls access to the information controls the information.

It's possible that the patents and copyrights might have expired, but if the
current patent madness continues, we could see the emergence of the perpetual
patent, which would not be a good thing.

Some years ago I was in a monestary, and they had the most wonderful collection
of latin and hebrew books, many from the 16th century, and hand-written works
from even earlier then that.

Anyone wishing to access the information they contained had to pay through the
nose, because they were paying for the expertise of the monks who did the
translation. In this case they got their money's worth, the translation was
seriously hard work.

However, now we have a situation where translation of what will becaome
historical documents can be performed automatically, and the onus is on those
who are responsible for archiving that information to ensure that future
generations will only have to pay for the direct expertise of those who have
learned how to use the 'ancient' (it will be by then, trust me) forms of data

If they also have to pay for rights to acces this technology, over and above the
cost of the expert who produces the data for them, then the archivists we have
today have failed in their duty to preserve our history.

If we to continue this foolish habit of archiving public data in privately
controlled formats, we will cause many problems for our descendants.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Peru Passes Free Software Law - That's Free as in Free Speech
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 08:53 PM EDT
PJ, the Peruvioan Association of Free Software is a bit more accurate than
yours. In the sentence or phrase after the colon on item 1, you miss to state
that the licence gives permission to use it for ANY purpose while you translated
it as "for your own use". On item 2 you translated "does not
permit you to do any or all of the things" while it should correctly say
"does not permit you to do all OR some of the things" Even the
Peruvian Association translation is slightly wrong too in that regard too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 08:55 PM EDT
The law defines Free Software, but doesn't do anything to say that the
government should purchase it! Microsoft won this round. In fact, according to
the English translation, the law places REQUIREMENTS on those who would
"obtain free software licenses" for the government to justify their
decisions "based on market costs"!

It positions itself as a law of "technology neutrality" - neither
favoring nor opposing free software. This is exactly the position Microsoft has
advocated governments to take. If our goal is preferential treatment from
governments, we have LOST this case, not won.

If I'm not here, it means I've gone out to find myself. If I get back before I
return, please keep me here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

They speak Spanish...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 10:22 PM EDT
Peruvians speak Spanish, so the equivalent term for free software - software
libre - isn't confusing in the slightest. One word doesn't share both
"free as in beer" and "free as in speech" meanings in
Spanish; software libre and software gratis are two different terms with
obviously different, obviously understandable meanings.

English is a different story, and your article is further proof of that, since
you feel it necessary to point out that you're talking about "free as in
free speech." And of course you do, because anyone who hasn't been
indoctrinated into the club isn't going to understand what the heck you're
talking about otherwise, and even now, a neophite would need a good sitting down
and talking to about the role of the word freedom.

Some folks think the confusion is just fine and dandy, because the more time we
spend sitting down and talking about the finer points of philosophy, the better.
But those of us who understand the importance of marketing realize that the
primary difference between "free" and "open" in this context
in English is that "open" is inherently, intuitively understandable
while "free" requires a stump speech and lesson plan.

I don't care which term you use; like most folks, I tend to use the terms in a
combined way or interchangeably, out of respect for those who disagree. But I
do care when some on a particular side try to intimate that those who use the
other term are somehow less "pure" or don't share the same values,
when obviously 99% of us do. There's a reason why the OSI Open Source
Definition and the Debian Free Software Guidelines are nearly identical, and
it's not just because the same guy wrote them both. It's because the
differences between both "camps" have been ridiculously exaggerated by
a few on both sides, and in fact the philosophy shared by most actual members of
both "camps" - not the so-called leaders with their pontifications,
but the actual folks in the trenches talking the talk and walking the walk - is
in fact identical. Same projects, same licenses, same goals. When a few
"free software" advocates describe "open source" folks as
only caring about development models, they are either not being honest or being
purposely obtuse in order to push their favored term. And although I've never
actually seen it happen, I'm sure the reverse is true too.

PJ, you do noone a service by extending this "war" by pretending that
one term has won an important victory over another. If this is a victory, it's
a victory for all of us who care about free and open source software.

There are real enemies out there. Can't we stop wasting time and energy
fighting amongst ourselves?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Peru Passes Free Software Law - That's Free as in Free Speech
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 26 2005 @ 11:17 PM EDT
¡ay caramba!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Unrestricted use and rights... What is that?!
Authored by: IMANAL on Tuesday, September 27 2005 @ 12:55 AM EDT
I know it was in Spanish. But still, wasn't the GPL regarded as restricted by
many as opposed to BSD-style licensing?

So, will the u stop GPL with this law?!

IM Absolutely Not A Lawyer

[ Reply to This | # ]

This law cannot be implemented
Authored by: ile on Tuesday, September 27 2005 @ 01:50 AM EDT
And I am not sure that it not being implemented is bad.

On a nitpicking standpoint , Article 4 is unimplementable:
there is no piece of hardware that is absolutely software
neutral; or is it the case that you can use RISC and
non-RISC interchangeably for machine code?

Of course this comes about because there is no definition
of software as such, when what is meant is OS and higher
elements of the stack.

And in case you have not yet realized, I'm keeping my
tongue firmly in my cheek ;-)

Now on a more serious note, it is a) a very poorly written
law; b) rather surprising in its shortness; c) not really
as good news as we would like it to be.

I say that it is poorly written because, for starters, in
article 3 we find a definition of software libre and
proprietary... a definition that is used nowhere else in
the law. Unless you consider that, implicitly, whenever
"tipo de software" (kind of software) is mentioned in the
law, that reference is about this classification.

Moreover, in formal written spanish I'd never use the word
"software" as such; I'd substitute it uniformly (in formal
written text) by "programas informáticos". This kind of
written spanglish is rather grating to my eyes.

And the only effect this law has is that in any
procurement process of the Peruvian state (in any level
of government, I'd assume, although the Peruvian
definition of "administración" might differ from the legal
system I have in mind; for instance in Spain the first
final disposition could be superfluous, since the publicly
owned universities have to abide by the general code for
public administration but in the specific aspects
regulated by some special laws) someone from the National
Office for IT is required to add a report on the software
that exists for that purpose.

Nothing on the status of code developed in-house, nothing
on specifically including in the cost-benefit analysis
that is required that of being able to have a different
contractor make the modifications to a program that could
make it more suitable, nothing on forcibly including
freedom of information about the actual workings of the
administration in the long run, nothing.

It is actually a LOSS for software libre: don't we all
know about heaps and heaps of TCO studies where it says,
against reality, that MS Windows deployment is cheaper
than, say, KDE/GNU/Linux? (I will not dispute that in some
circumstances it could be; but, simply put, in general it
is bovine manure).

This law allows for some official to rehash some
proprietary software vendor's marketing speech into a
TCO-like study, and someone's nether regions will be

Rather poor.

Sorry for the pessimism. I'd much rather that Perú led the
way, and not Massachussets (you know, after all Peruvians
are family and so on); but in this case I think the MA
decision is by far the most relevant one.

By the way: does the distinction between libre and gratis
exist in quechua and aymará as well? (last time I looked,
quechua was official in some parts of Perú).

[ Reply to This | # ]

That's Free as in Free Speech
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 27 2005 @ 09:04 AM EDT
In spanish we borrow many words from english, specially for use in the computing
industry. I think is high time english borrows the spanish word
"libre", that means exactly free as in free speech. Use free for free
as in free beer, which by the way is "gratis" in spanish.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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