Today sees the launch of a new coalition of businesses (large and small), organizations and individuals to speak up for Free and open source software in Washington DC. Open Source for America brings together a diverse alliance drawn from every corner of the software freedom movement. The Board of Advisors (on which I'm honoured to serve) brings together community, commercial, political and military voices, and the membership has been the easiest to recruit of any activity I have known. That's because at the heart of the organization you'll find the principles of the Free Software Definition, which themselves form the core beliefs of almost everyone supporting free and open source software.
The Freedoms at the heart of the alliance create an unparalleled opportunity for governments:
- Open source puts government in control of if and when they spend money on software, since the it guarantees the right to use without limitations
- It means that government IT investment is mostly spent locally with local experts since everyone is free to study and modify the code.
- It ensures that all - government, suppliers and citizens - can freely access the software needed for government engagement without toll or tax from a vendor since everyone is free to distribute the original and changed versions.
Whatever other lessons we can learn from this new initiative, I note that it was easy and rational for people from all the apparent factions of the free and open source software movement to come together. It's time to set aside the urge to fight over semantic differences and recognise how far we have come and see how much we can achieve when we pull together. Join Open Source for America now!