EU Open Source Software Legal Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

" (Information Society and Media, 2005) f. The eContent Programme and the eTen Programme

The 100 million dollar eContent Programme (2001-2005) focuses on encouraging growth and development of tie European digital content industry. This programme funds projects with short time-to-market and as well experiments with new models in business and partnerships through use of technology that is presently available. The programme's stated 'main thrust' is to;

Improve access to an expand the use of public sector information,

Enhance consent production in a multilingual and multicultural environment,

Increase the dynamism of the digital content market by making it easier to access capital and by developing a consistent European approach to digital rights trading." (Information Society and Media, 2005)

The programme will address "organizational barriers and promote take up of leading-edge technical solution to improve accessibility and usability of digital material in a multilingual environment." (Information Society and Media, 2005)Market areas are addressed by the programmes in which there has been especially slow development as to geographical content, educational content, cultural, scientific and scholarly content." (Information Society and Media, 2005) Another programme the 'eTEN Programme' focuses on the "large-scale roll-out of public interest services, primarily in support of the eEurope Action Plan addressing the "employment of digital content as a basis for online public services in areas such as culture, education, tourism, transport, and mobility and eInclusion." (Information Society and Media, 2005) g. The Information Society and the Information Society & Media DG

The start of 2005 witnessed the policy activities of the Commission, particularly those linked to Media in combination with those linked to Information Society. This combination called the new Information Society & Media DG is for the purpose of ensuring that interfaces between these two arenas are strong in convergence context. Researchers and policymakers alike are stated to have ensured that:

Information Society and Media programmes better reflect relevant EU policies;

EU policies better account for Information Society technologies;

ICTs are better applied to meeting Europe's challenges." (Information Society and Media, 2005) h. The Sixth Framework Research Programme

Information Society Technologies (IST)

Quite a bit of the Information Society's actions reflect a great effort on the part of the European Union. The largest "thematic priority in the EU's Fifth (1998-2002) and Sixth (2002-2005) Framework Research Programmes is that of research related to Information Society Technologies (IST)." (Information Society and Media, 2005) i. The Seventh Framework Research Programme & Information

Communication Technologies (ICT)

Information and communication technologies or "ICTs" are vital in the view of the Europeans resulting in great energy being given to Information Society related agenda. Traditional boundaries are crossed by the Information Society therefore the Information Society & Media DG works closing with the other DGs in relation to policy matters. The DG is diligent in maintaining close working relationships with "DG Research on research activities including preparation of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development; implementation of research into nanotechnology and the preparatory action on security research; and DG Competition on implementing the regulatory framework on electronic communications and on competition related aspects of Internet and International regulatory questions (e.g. Internet naming and addressing issues." (Information Society Policy Link, 2005)

The other stated DGs that share "interests and issues" (Information Society Policy Link, 2005) include, however are not limited to:

DG Education and Culture: eLearning and culture related issues, eContent and Safer Internet;

DG Enterprise and Industry: support to sectoral policies, IPR issues, ICT standardization, business dialogue with third countries, eGovernment, ICT skills.

DG Environment: environmental protection, air and noise pollution, water quality, natural resource management and crisis management.

Europe Aid Cooperation Office: International cooperation programmes for ICT, humanitarian demining, cooperation on research infrastructures.

Eurostat: eEurope benchmarking.

DG External Relations: security issues, regulatory dialogue with partner countries, EC participation in international organization.

DG Health and Consumer Protection: distance selling, spam, consumer protection related to electronic communications, eHealth and electromagnetic fields.

DG Employment and Social Affairs: e-skills, socio-economic impact.

DG Internal Market and Services; Intellectual Property Rights, privacy and data protection, eMoney and mobile payments.

DG Justice, Freedom and Security: data retention, ePrivacy directive, cybercrime, biometrics.

DG Regional Policy: use of Structural Funds fro broadband deployment and for building ICT research capacity.

DG Transport and Energy; Intelligent transport systems (ITS) and eSafety, eTen, sustainable development.

j. European Parliament & Legislature

The European Parliament is co-legislator and thereby exerts great influence upon the co-decision processes in relation to the field of Information Society and as well several of the committees of the Parliament are relevant to the IS portfolio. Furthermore the Council is stated to be a "vital institution for the EG's legislative files, in particular those adopted under the co-decision procedure." (Information Society Policy Link, 2005) k. European Economic and Social Committee & Committee of the Regions

The advisory bodies that were established by the Treaties for contributing to the decision-making process of the EU are those of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (COR).

l. European Policy-Making

Policy is made in the EU both from the bottom-up and from the top-down. The Member States in the Council and the European Parliament set the priorities of the European Commission and the EC in turn devises the regulatory initiatives and action programmes in alignment with the priorities that were set for them. The Information Society programmes funds projects that contribute to development of policy. Stated "key modes of policy contribution" include policy research and analysis, benchmark and indicators, research roadmaps and future needs, policy forums, best practice, standards, and policy implementation.

Over the past twenty years law and policy relating to open source software has seen many changes. In the decades of the fifties and sixties proprietary software was that which consisted of "limited applications that were almost entirely sold bundled with computer hardware. The packaged software was sold until the seventies and then by the middle of the eighties a more formal model for software code sharing came into existence when Stallman developed the GNU General Public License (GPL). The Internet's emergency propelled the momentum of free software.

II. Free and Open Software vs. Proprietary Software

Open source software provides a solution that is cost effective to companies as well as providing a forum for the development of new software ideas before they enter the market. Furthermore quick and innovative solutions for the desktop are another benefit of open source software. However if complications arise or if the software fails to continue its' existence or fails to be upgraded there is a threat to security and functionality of the software. Another point that has been made is that it is clearly understood that any free software upon gaining popularity will eventually cease to be free. Furthermore the combination of free software and commercial software could very well violate the intellectual property rights of a company and furthermore leaves the question open of exactly where liability rests in the event of a malfunction or security violation and this is particularly relevant in the event of third-party involvement

Open Source Software is distributed in an open and free manner which allows developers of software to make modification and improvement on the originally crated product of software. The code's original distributors control its presentation and dissemination through contractual software licensing laws relating to copyright and contract law. The protection of the software code is in the form of a literary text under the laws of copyright. Copyright law only protects the expression of an idea or facts but does not protect the idea or facts themselves. Patent and trademark law both have the capability to bestow legal rights to software as well. Proprietary methodology involves the employing of a team of programmers and binding them with a non-disclosure agreement. Copyright is then claimed over the code which is created under the protection of the non-disclosure agreement. The most popular of the open source license is that of the GNU or General Public License. The GNU License provides the rights to copy and redistribute as long as a copyright notice is included along with disclaimer of warranties. Further charges may be attached for the cost of distribution as…

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