15 January 2009

Out of Africa Something New - and Bad

Despite the fact that South Africa is at the forefront of open source usage, it seems to be taking a very bad turn as far as open knowledge is concerned:

The Intellectual Property from Publicly Financed Research Bill was signed into law yesterday.

This stems from a mistaken belief that:

the best way to get research re-used for the benefit of the economy is to lock it down, and award a monopoly to one person, rather than opening it to everyone.

This could set South African research back seriously.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, we South Africans are not at the forefront of open source, in fact, many people here have never even heard of it, and if they have, they still don't really understand what it actually is.

It is getting better though, and it is encouraging that a few of the leading JSE listed companies are turning towards FOSS, with Wordpress based blogging sites leading the way in this field.


What is disturbing about that link is that IBM is a huge contributor and sponsor of FOSS yet at the same time the leader of patent registration (that will include registrations from their hardware divisions)But this at least is good: "The evolution of IBM's policy builds on prior efforts to stimulate innovation by pledging not to assert certain patent rights in the area of open source software, health care, education, the environment, and software interoperability. "

Glyn Moody said...

I think you're too modest:


Yes, the IBM stuff is curious: I may blog about it.

Anonymous said...

This is a strange development because the SA Government have an official Tax-relief incentive currently running for companies that financially support qualifying local IT research projects with specific emphasis on Open Source (or so the dude and dudette from the Government said at our Open Source group meeting in Midrand last year ...)

Anonymous said...

Sure, Geraldine Frasier Moloketi is certainly my fav government figurehead for all the good she does for FOSS in SA, but official Government Policy does not neccesarily equate to adoption by SA business.

eg: Some time back, I was involved with the re-development of a local site with "World Heritage Site" status (IOW, it's a big thing) and despite SA Government policy, the Gauteng Provincial Government chose to waste millions of tax payer rands on SharePoint when Alfresco would have done the job just as well. As close as I was to the decision makers, no sway was possible... It's the closed mindset that is hardest to overcome.

Glyn Moody said...

Maybe there's somebody really pushing this in the SA government.

Glyn Moody said...

At least it's better than here in the UK, where neither the government nor business seems to get it....

Anonymous said...

Having official Government Policy on Open Source yields results:


The IEC Open up the voter registration site to non IE browsers. quote:"Maphanga said previously that the IEC restricted access to the website to ensure that non-Microsoft users were not given the wrong information. This however frustrated many users, some of which filed a complaint with the human rights commission. Users argued that the South African government had an open source software policy and that denying citizens access to the website using their own choice of browser was a violation of human rights."

Glyn Moody said...

@Ivan: excellent news - thanks for passing it on.