Open Source

Promoting greater use of and contribution back to Open Source Software (OSS) projects has always been one of OFE’s primary objectives. We believe that OSS is a powerful tool supporting innovation as well as economic growth. In particular, OFE has long been promoting OSS in the public sector as a way to help avoid vendor lock-in, maintain flexibility, and to achieve good value-for-money.

OFE works closely with a number of open source/free software focused organisations, such as the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) with whom it has a long term partnership, to ensure that the specific needs of Open Source are well represented throughout OFE’s policy work and in the work of the European Commission and Parliament. In the past this has evidenced through preparatory work on the European Interoperability Framework, the Public Procurement Guidelines, European Standardisation reforms and definitions, and Intellectual Property discussions.

What is Open Source?

Open Source Software (aka. Free Software) is software that has the following characteristics:

  • Everyone can run the software, for any purpose.
  • Everyone can study how the software functions, and change it so it functions as they wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • Everyone can redistribute copies in order to help others.
  • Everyone can distribute copies of their modified versions to others.

When using the term “Open Source” in our policy work, OpenForum Europe considers it a term of art as spelled out in the Open Source Initiative’s Open Source Definition. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) definition differs in the details but is largely equivalent. The FSF definition is the basis for the GPL license, the best known and most widely used Open Source Software license while OSI maintains a list of Open Source licenses they consider compliant with their definition.

The Open Source Policy Community List

We encourage you to keep engaging with the policy discussions through OFE’s Open Source Policy Community List. It is a very open forum with 200+ members, ranging from activists and policy professionals to Open Source professionals and European policymakers.

Members of the Community list are invited to a Community Call every fourth Tuesday chaired by OFE. These calls are well attended and are one of our key channels for dissemination and exchange with the community. 

In addition, for the last seven years we have organised an annual Open Source Policy conference in Brussels on the Friday before FOSDEM.