Open Source for America launched a petition Thursday to "Free the Code," an effort to encourage the U.S. federal government to release custom-developed, taxpayer-funded software as open source by default.
"Free the Code is an initiative to start a national conversation on taxpayer investments in software and information technology," said John Scott, co-chair of Open Source for America's steering committee. "Specifically, we’re interested in how publicly-funded software code developed by the government, which isn’t already covered by a proprietary license, should be made available to the wider public."
Scott and Deb Bryant of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) co-chaired a "Free the Code" session at the Open Source Conference (OSCON) this week in Portland, Oregon to invite interested parties to join the debate. "Releasing code as open source would significantly increase reuse and collaborative development between federal agencies and the private sector," said Bryant. "We hope that others agree and will sign our petition at We the People asking the Federal Government to share government-developed software under an open source license whenever possible."
The petition Bryant refers to is posted at: goo.gl/K920J. It begins, "We petition the Obama Administration to maximize the public benefit of federal technology by sharing government-developed software under an open source license." The White House has pledged to respond to any petition on the We the People site that garners 25,000 signatures within 30 days.
The group also plans to developing model policies and share best practices for governments around open source licensing. You can sign up for the working group if you'd like to help the U.S. government Free the Code.