Swiss Federal Council considers legal assurance for release of Free Software


Currently, there is uncertainty in Switzerland regarding the development and release of Free Software by public contractors. The trigger for this was the development and release of the software OpenJustitia by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. The federal council now wants to examine whether the publication of Free Software by the federal administration can be explicitly allowed. The Free Software Foundation Europe demands a clarification so that publicly-financed software can unambiguously be legally released as Free Software

In December of 2014, the parliamentarian group Parldigi - Digital Sustainability submitted a proposal (German) with the title "How can the release of open source software [/Free Software] by the federal administration be explicitly allowed?" In it, the federal council is instructed to examine whether the budgetary planning law must be duly amended so that it explicitly allows the release of source code by the federal government and, if necessary, suggest suitable adaptations to facilitate the Free Software strategy of the federal administration.

On February 25, 2015, the Swiss Federal Council acknowledged that the proposal will be examined.

"It is important that the Swiss Federal Council takes up this topic," said Marcus Möller from the Swiss team of the FSFE. "We hope that legal certainty for the development of Free Software by public contractors will be established as soon as possible."

The FSFE Switzerland calls for (German) the lacking legal framework to be created as soon as possible so that software -- developed with public money -- can be released as Free Software. Even then, public institutions themselves should not become contractors for Free Software development, which would lead to a market distortion. On the contrary, from the perspective of the FSFE, the actual release of software development under Free licenses strengthens and stimulates the market.