Bulgaria Got a Law Requiring Open Source
Bozhidar Bozhanov
44226

Bozhidar,

Great work and thank you so much for sharing this. We at the Open Source Initiative (OSI) are thrilled to learn of Bulgaria’s success.

From another comment, asking about the definition of open source, you mentioned that the definition is included in the bill/law.

Looking through, we found this under “Additional provisions:”

“30. (new — SG. 50 of 2016, effective 01.07.2016) The ‘Open Source Software’ is software whose source code is publicly available for free with the right to review and the right to edit under conditions set by the copyright holder.”

Is the section you were referencing?

As you probably know the international standard for defining open source software is the Open Source Definition (http://opensource.org/osd) which is used in the OSI's License Review process (https://opensource.org/approval) to certify “open source” licenses and thus guarantee software freedom.

The OSI has worked with other governments on similar efforts, recommending they include in their policies, “Open source software is software distributed under an OSI Approved Open Source License (https://opensource.org/licenses).”

Unfortunately we’ve discovered many nefarious actors who, as the popularity of open source software increases and more policies like this are enacted, brand their software as open source, but distribute it under licenses that limit software freedom. The result is ambiguity and confusion as governments (and potential adopters) presume they enjoy all of the benefits and protections of an open source license, but in reality are at risk due to one-off provisions within these customized licenses: we’ve seen examples where companies use the open source label, but actually restrict use by government agencies.

Another issue with using licenses not approved by the OSI, is that projects will suffer from a lack of uptake and/or contribution. A one-of-a-kind license will cause potential users/contributors (in this case, of Bulgarian developed software) to pause before adopting as they will need to: review the unfamiliar license to understand its terms and conditions; assure that it aligns with their own goals and expectations for open source, and; assess its compatibility with other open source licenses.

We do wish we could have provided you with support during the law’s development, and apologize for only reaching out now. But we do hope that their still might be some way to introduce the OSI certified licenses as Bulgaria’s standard. We would very much appreciate the opportunity to work with you and the Bulgarian government to further explain the value of referencing and adopting OSI Approved Open Source Licenses.

Please let us know how we can help and again, congratulations on this important accomplishment.

All the best,

Patrick Masson
General Manager & Director,
Open Source Initiative
masson@opensource.org