Bulgarian gov writes open source into law

Yellow road sign with a blue sky and white clouds: open sourceThe Bulgarian government has launched a number of amendments to the Electronic Governance Act which requires all code written for the government to be open source.

The announcement was made public through Bozhidar Bozhanov’s blog, who is currently acting as an advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister who is responsible for e-governance systems and policies. The new policy doesn’t mean the entire country will be moving towards Linux, though it is one of the first examples of a government putting the concept of open source into legislation. Article 58.a of the act states:

“When the subject of the contract includes the development of computer programs: (a) computer programs must meet the criteria for open source software. (b) All copyright and related rights on the relevant computer programs, their source code, the design of interfaces and databases which are subject to the order should arise for the principal in full, without limitations in the use, modification and distribution. (c) Development should be done in the repository maintained by the Agency in accordance with Art.7cpt.18.”

The amendment will not impact current contracts, or insist on the major vendors give away the source of their products, but only focuses on custom written code. When the government procures IT services or software which means custom code will be written specifically for the project, the act ensures this code will be outsourced for the rest of the country to use.

“After all, it’s paid by tax-payers money and they should both be able to see it and benefit from it,” said Bozhanov on the blog. “A new government agency is tasked with enforcing the law and with setting up the public repository (which will likely be mirrored to GitHub).

“The fact that something is in the law doesn’t mean it’s a fact, though. The programming community should insist on it being enforced. At the same time some companies will surely try to circumvent it.”