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This project was discontinued. The pages here are kept for archiving
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<h2>Classification of Free Software as an intangible world
cultural heritage</h2>
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<p>A working group has been set up in January 7th, 2002 by
<a href="http://www.april.org/">APRIL</a> and <a
href="http://fsffrance.org/">FSF France</a>.
The original idea is from Pierre Jarillon (<a
href="http://www.abul.org">ABUL</a> president). The objective is to have Free
Software classified as an intangible world cultural heritage by the
<a href="http://www.unesco.org/">UNESCO</a>.</p>
<p>Why? First you must understand it would benefit to the Free Software
community, but also to humankind as a whole. Free software is not only about
computer science, technique or even licenses. It deals with freedom,
equality and fraternity. Freedom to copy, to study, to modify and to
redistribute software or documentations. Equality, same rights for every
user, without discrimination. Fraternity, because we talk about sharing and
mutual help. Moreover Free Software is already part of the humankind heritage,
in fact. We are trying to obtain a UNESCO recognition. The previous values
are common to the Free Software community and the UNESCO.</p>
<p>Now let's see what the community could expect from this recognition. First
a strong support, because the UNESCO is a major organisation, with an
important aura. It could give a major recognition to Free Software, and a
very large diffusion. Sort of planetary promotion. Finally, it would also
bring legal protection to Free Software (via the UNESCO legal services),
against looming <a href="links.html">threats</a>.</p>
<p>We'll begin by ethic/philosophical arguments. We previously talked about
freedom, equality and fraternity values, about our philosophy which is
beneficiary for humankind as a whole. We also add the transparency value,
which prevails in our community. Finally you should keep in mind only
Free Software can be considered as world heritage. "To serve humanity with
software, software should be free, because software belongs to human
knowledge. Proprietary software does not belong to human knowledge." (Richard
M. Stallman, GNU project founder and <a href="http://www.fsf.org">Free
Software Foundation</a> president).</p>
<p>Now, the social arguments. It's a question of mutual help and knowledge
sharing. To make tools (and even much more than tools) available for
everybody. It seems to meet UNESCO values. Free Software allows a situation
where nobody limits others freedom. Nobody forbids you to copy, to use, to
modify or to redistribute, nobody chains you up. Let's add Free Software
allows a quicker development for developing countries (not only them, it's
also true for other countries). They also allow protection of cultures and a
better ease of use, due to multilingual support.</p>
<p>Technical arguments? Free Software has already proved itself (stability,
performances, etc). It's also essential in the field of computer security,
because it's the only one which gives transparency and verification, in a
field where there can be no blind confidence in this or that software
editor. Internet would be pretty different from what it is now without
Free Software (60% of web servers, large part of email or DNS servers, etc)
and the Network would have grown slower without it. Free Software brings
continuity: you won't be blocked by an editor disappearance or trapped in the
version race ("sorry version N-1 is no more supported and nothing runs with
it, and you'll need to change all your hardware to use version N, whose
files are not compatible with version N-1"). Finally Free Software is about
benefit from work already done, not reinventing the wheel, "sitting on
giants'shoulders" (one can see further).</p>
<p>What about independence? First, there is independence of governments. Not
just voters or citizens to satisfy, no election dates to muddle decisions.
Secondly, independence of companies. Not just market shares, consumers or
shareholders. Finally, independence of political parties. And no frantic
pursuit of profit in contempt of everything else, no obligation to release
unfinalised versions. Even if a government, a company or a party develops
a free software, user freedoms are protected and everybody can carry on with
the project in their own way if necessary.</p>
<p>And now, the facts: Free Software is already part of the world heritage,
as previously said. And it has numerous supports, from governments,
associations, firms, and more and more users. Even the UNESCO has a
<a href="http://www.unesco.org/webworld/portal_freesoft/">Free Software
portal</a> and leads <a
href="http://www.unesco.org.uy/informatica/consorcio/index.html">actions in
Latin America</a>.</p>
<p>Group leader: Benoît Sibaud (bsibaud@april.org)</p>
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