Mardis de Doisneau

Depuis que j’ai quitté les éclés pour m’exiler à Berlin, les ados me manquent. L’adolescence est une période folle où tout est intense, l’amour, le désespoir, l’enthousiasme, l’ennui et… la propension à la geekerie.

Un des plus grand lycées de France, le lycée Doisneau à Corbeil-Essonnes, organise tous les mois des sessions d’ouverture sur différents sujets. Nous avons la possibilité de consacrer la session de février à internet. Une heure et demie avec plusieurs classes pour parler collaboration, commons, partage du savoir et liberté. Les programmes officiels ne prévoient que des actions de sensibilisation au droit d’auteur et aux dangers d’internet..

Il me faut donc maintenant trouver un/une intervenant/e pour co-animer la séance. Les “objectifs” que j’ai en tête sont:

  • les faire rêver et trancher à la fois avec les discours anxiogènes et le marketing des boites de SaaS, Facebook, Google et leurs petits cousins.
  • briser le cliché du geek et faire comprendre que tout le monde a sa place dans les communautés qui s’occupent de technologie
  • aborder la technologie et ses utilisations comme des enjeux politiques

Pour une fois, je ne pense pas centrer mon discours sur les questions de surveillance et/ou de censure, mais plutôt sur l’incroyable collaboration permise par internet et la copie à volonté Ex: Wikipedia, logiciel libre, différents projets Arduino… Je compte montrer des réalisations concrètes et motivantes puis expliquer pourquoi elles ne sont possibles que grâce à un réseau ouvert et neutre.

Qu’en pensez-vous ?

Ces prochains jours je vais contacter plusieurs personnes que j’imagine très bien dans ce type de discussion. Au travail pour mettre sur pied une sessions que les ados n’oublieront pas de si tôt !

An eBook with DRM is no book, says French national assembly

To everyone’s surprise, the French national assembly just voted an amendment (FR) defended by the Greens, dealing with the issue of DRM in ebooks. If the law is also voted by the Senat (and once the two assemblies agreed on a common version) French legislation will acknowledge that a book with DRM or in a closed format is no book but a digital service. It will therefore not benefit from a reduced VAT anymore (19.6% instead of 5.5%).

During the debate (FR), French MEPs specified that a book is something that can be borrowed, read as many times as its owners wishes, taken anywhere.. Restricted “books” don’t qualify, obviously.

Hoping that it will become law and that France will inspire other European countries (for once..)! In any case, exposing DRM is already weakening them. We are working on it everyday lately: check!

EDIT: Most people expected the amendment to be removed from the draft law sooner or later. It was done just one day after the first vote. French government made the national assembly vote an other amendment to remove the previous one, and socialist MPs voted it. 

The government argues that making a difference between DRM’d eBooks and free ones would weaken France in it’s negociation with the European Commission about cultural exception (the idea that art and culture are not a commercial good like any other, and that they should therefore not be part of any free trade agreement).

The draft law (Finance Act) is far from being in its final version. The original DRM amendment could be re-introduced by the second assembly, the Senat. Resistance is growing. On their website and social media, both April and Framasoft are calling people to contact their representatives in the Senat and convince them to table and vote the amendment.  Will do.

Clear answers demanded

Public transparency is an nice idea, as long as governments don’t ask their people to be fully transparent themselves in return. Since finding the limit between public (person, activity) and private is always difficult, caution is needed. Still, last week brought several examples of interesting uses of transparency policies, related to Free Software.


  • In Europe

On July 9, during the Juri Workshop in Brussels, someone from the public asked Giancarlo Vilella, Director of the DG ITEC (Innovation and Technological Support) of the European Parliament (EP), what was the proportion of Free and proprietary software in the European Parliament ICT system.

He gave a nice runaround answer, saying that -very likely, more than half of the EP’s system was running Free Software.

In two different letters, the Green/EFA, FSFE and Open Right Group followed up on this, asking the European Parliament to be more precise about their use of Free Software and about the implications of their transparency policy. When they come, the answers should give new arguments to Free Software activists in Europe.

On the European Commission’s side, several parliamentary questions were answered, detailing the concrete actions taken by the Commission to implement its policy regarding interoperability, Free Software and Open Standards.


  • In France

In France now, several ministries (Ministére de la ville – Ministry of cities, de l’agroalimentaire – of Agrifood, and du redressement productif – of “Productive Recovery”) published clear reports on their use of Free Software on July 16. They were answering a parliamentary question from MP Isabelle Attard (Green), demanding information related to the Ayrault circular‘s follow up.

A quick summary:

  • the ministries always “consider” Free Software during their procurement procedure
  • most of them are unable to give numbers, their book-keeping doesn’t separate spending on  Free and proprietary software. Spending on hardware with embedded software can also not be counted. The ministry of Agrifood (FR) is the only one showing clear numbers: for 2012 86k€ were spent on proprietary Office suite, 1828k€ on proprietary “infrastructure software” and 174k€ on Free Software
  • Free Software are mostly used in the server side. Office Suite and email clients are also often mentioned.
  • the only number the ministries of Finance and Economic Affairs (FR) can give is about their contribution to Free Software “ecosystem”, whatever they mean by this. One can hope that it means their contribution to Free Software projects: at least 22M euro, it would be nice… But I guess they are just counting spending on support / maintenance contracts -which is important too.
  • One minister (“city”) described an increasing internal expertise ability on software procurement and better collaboration with other ministries for the management of their ICT systems, implying interoperability. According to the document (FR), the ministry of “territorial equality and housing” and the ministry of “ecology, sustainable development and energy” are almost only using Free Software. Desktop computer’s operating system is the only proprietary part left. Those two ministers still spend 6 million euros per year on proprietary software
  • One association -Association of Free Software Developers and Users for administrations and local authorities, ADULLACT (FR)- is freeing some code developed in house and contributes to Free Software projects

French public bodies have terrible names..



Zombie Free Software provision, update

The commission about which I was writing Wednesday confirmed the Free Software amendment and corrected its wording.

It now states

“Art. L. 123-4-1. – The Public Service for Higher Education provides digital services and educational resources to its users.”
“free software is used as a priority.”

The compromise version, on which members of the Senat and of the National Assembly agreed, still has to be voted by both assemblies in plenary session.

A similar provision on a bill dealing with primary and secondary education was strongly watered down by the French government two weeks-ago, probably because of ignorance. Let’s hope that the government has learned from its mistakes in the meantime.


  • Writing to / calling your representatives isn’t very hard

If I had known this I would have started doing it earlier.

– No need to be a genius or an expert on the topic. Telling them why you feel concerned seems very efficient!

– You probably will not talk to the actual elected person but with his/her assistant(s). They are often young and the ones I talked to were always very friendly and helpful.

– Telling your own story helps! On Wednesday I talked about my cartography courses at university, on proprietary software costing a few hundred euro per licence. Of course I was never able to use the knowledge acquired during the course anywhere else.. Universities have to choose. Do they want to

  • teach how to use a proprietary software that one student per class *may* use professionally;
  •  or give free and Free tools and knowledge to all students, who will then use is for any project/course/research/job for which could need it?

This – and many other things, is what I told the MPs and Senators. It’s not hard, anyone can do it! We could organise “Call your MPs” workshops: the first call is the hardest one.

June in France

Two weeks ago I was writing about the French Government watering down a pro- Free Software amendment. This week brought some interesting news about France again:


  • Fleur Pellerin, a Free Software enthusiast?

At Mozilla’s official Paris headquarters’ opening, our Minister in charge of digital economy gave a nice speech (FR) celebrating Free Software.

Those [Mozilla and Free Software’s] values are access to knowledge for all, trust and amplification of the Internet’s general interest aspect. It is also social values: forwarding a virtuous, open, participatory model of society, where data is above all considered as a good accessible to the greatest possible number of people and a source of knowledge that anyone can use, improve and share.

She talked about how great Free Software is for innovation and economy, and stressed the work of the current government on the issue – especially with their 2012 memorandum (EN) about the use of Free Software in French public administration.

French Government and digital freedom, one step forward two steps backward (or the contrary…)?


  • What is MIMO …?

This week again, we discovered a blog post by the Document Foundation welcoming “MIMO” in its Advisory Board. MIMO seems to be an interdepartmental working group composed of representatives of 9 French ministries, working on “open office software” (bureautique ouverte).

Here is the only official page I could find about MIMO. Lovely design!

I don’t really get the idea. They made a CD to install (a special?) version 3.5  of Libre Office for Windows. They should also offer other Free Software for the administration, but I could not find much on their list.

According to the Document Foundation, MIMO is testing and approving one version of LibreOffice per year. They ensure that it is compatible with the IT infrastructure and processes of member ministries. They are said to have several working groups (cloud computing, the organisation and planning of IT systems, Open Source…) but have no official website. Intriguing..


  • A provision on unitary patent hidden in a draft law on Advanced Education and Research

Talking about intriguing things, April highlighted (FR) two interesting amendments to the draft law on Advanced Education and Research that will be discussed this week by the French Sénat in plenary session.

They would allow the ratification of the European agreement on unified patent jurisdiction. As the law is examined under an emergency procedure, it will only be discussed once in the Sénat. Nice way to put a highly controversial issue to vote.

The agreement on unitary patent gives a lot of power to the European Patent Office (EPO). And even if they are not supposed to exist in Europe, EPO has been granting software patent for years, calling them patent on “computer implemented inventions”.

Let’s see if it generates any debate in the French Sénat..


  • Priority to Free Software in education: second reading in the Sénat

The weak new version of the law will be discussed again on Monday 24, next week.

Busy time!