Open Source Agreed by UN WSIS

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Encouragement for the use of free and open source software and open standards for science and technology has quietly worked its way into the draft texts being prepared for the November second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Such ideas have gained significant support in recent years as potentially low-cost, easy-access solutions for developing countries, but as they are put forward in the WSIS context they are balanced by stronger calls for proprietary approaches.

The draft WSIS texts are lengthy and detailed, and intellectual property (IP) issues play a comparatively small role overall, but the stakes are high enough to draw top government IP officials and industry lobbyists to the meetings. Agreement on the issue was reached at the 19-30 September WSIS preparatory committee meeting held in Geneva. The provisions will be included in those forwarded to senior officials at the 16-18 November summit in Tunis.

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