28 February 2007

Vietnam Eyes Open Source

It seems that the WTO's demands are starting to bite in Vietnam:

Though copyright sale isn’t very common on the Vietnamese market, at the end of 2006, several major state-owned businesses signed copyright contracts with Microsoft. An example was the Ministry of Finance, which bought 15.000 Office software copyrights. Vietnam Commercial Bank (Vietcombank) also signed agreements to have 4.000 permits for Microsoft Office 2003 within 3 years.

Vietnam’s starting to buy software copyrights is indeed a good sign showing that the country is starting to respect WTO rules. The fact that the Ministry of Finance, one of the most important ministries in Vietnam, plays the leading role, also helps to prove to the world that Vietnam intends to make good all of its software copyright pledges to the WTO.

And not surprisingly, people there are beginning to wonder if there isn't a better way - especially for a developing country that has better things to do with its financial resources than giving them to the richest man in the world and his company:

At a national conference on open-source software held in Hanoi at the end of 2006, Vietnam Information Association called for the use and development of domestic products, encouragement of free software with similar functions such as OpenOffice, and application of new technologies such as Web 2.0 which Google, Yahoo, Sun, Oracle are currently using.

As the WTO clamps down on countries that use unauthorised copies of software on a large scale, this kind of development is bound to be repeated.

Update: Meanwhile, here's another country with reasons of its own for preferring free software to the kind that comes from the US....

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