ASEAN Free Software Wishlist
Brendan Scott May MMIX
If someone was throwing money around to support the Free, Libre and Open Source Software community in the Australia and South East Asian Nations area (and I happened to be in the line of fire) I would probably use it to set up an ASEAN FLOSS Strategic Policy Centre (AFSPC doesn’t sound like the best acronym in the world, so I’d probably have to first hire a consultant to come up with a better name).
The functions of AFSPC would include:
- providing FLOSS related compliance assistance for local businesses;
- providing FLOSS related education services for local businesses;
- engaging in strategic thinking relating to FLOSS – had such an organisation been set up three years ago it would have had an excellent climate provided by the GFC for marketing the advantages of FLOSS;
- responding to government inquiries on FLOSS related topics;
- formulating FLOSS related policy best practice recommendations;
- creating and maintaining a FLOSS scorecard;
- establishing alliances and communities of interest with stakeholders having similar objectives;
- the provision of a FLOSS liaison officer to assist government on an ongoing basis in relation to FLOSS;
- provide governance assistance to free software projects – how to establish one, how to run one, how to navigate transitions in structure as more people get involved in a project;
- educating law makers on free software related policies.
Other initiatives which could be established are:
- a FLOSS clearing house funded by a levy on government IT procurement. Traditionally, Government is happy to pay exorbitant marketing costs for closed source (albeit hidden in licence fees) while discriminating against providing similar funding for FLOSS marketing. The clearing house would partially redress this government discrimination by marketing FLOSS solutions to government. See sections 9.4ff here;
- a FLOSS demonstration centre, with a shopfront (this has been done in Western Australia);
- creating FLOSS related solutions for SMEs – eg standard server implementation that resellers could preload/sell
- supporting networking between FLOSS related businesses and FLOSS using customers (already being done by OSIA).
- particularly important for Australia is to pursue removal of the immunity enjoyed by closed source software from anti-competitive practices under Part IV of the Trade Practices Act.
But, so far as I am aware no one actually is throwing money around. Which is disappointing, given that the Australian government donates $100 million a year to the copyright lobby and even more to the closed source lobby.