26 June 2009

Eee, Look: A Useful E-petition Response

Even though I keep signing the wretched things, e-petitions have not generated much action from the UK government. Which makes the following case rather interesting.

The following e-petition:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ask the Communities Secretary to require that all software produced by councils under the Timely Information to Citizens project be released under an open source licence.”

Produced this response:

The Government supports the principle that, where new software is being developed by the Timely Information to Citizens pilots, this should wherever possible be released under open source licence and available for use by other local authorities.

For many of the Timely Information to Citizens pilots, the focus is not on new software, but on how existing tools and techniques can be used to bring information together and present it in more useful and accessible ways. Several of the projects will utilise existing open source software to create new information sources and channels, and will share their experiences of doing so with other authorities.

Where the pilots will result in new software tools, ownership and intellectual property rights will usually remain with the individual local authorities. However, most of the authorities concerned have already made a commitment to make these tools available as open source software, or for use by their partner organisations, and we are working to secure the commitment of the remaining.

What impresses me is (a) the reasonableness of the response and (b) the fact that the release of government-developed software should be released as open source "in principle". I do believe we're getting there....

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