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Título: Free software activists come together to improve proposed U.S. Department of Education regulations- Enlace 1

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Free software activists come together to improve proposed U.S. Department of Education regulations

Donald Robertson


Published on

Dec 22, 2015 12:26 PM

The Free Software Foundation submitted comments from free
software activists in response to the U.S. Department of Education's
proposed new regulations on the licensing of grant-funded works.

The U.S. Department of Education posted a Notice of Proposed Rule
Making earlier this fall, Open Licensing Requirement for Direct Grant
, requesting comments from the public. While the Department's
use of the watered-down term 'open' is unfortunate, the goals
expressed in that notice are something that free software activists
can be pleased with. The Department was looking to provide greater
access to and distribution of works created using the grant funding it
awards. In order to bring this about, it proposed new regulations
requiring that all grant-funded works be released under a license that
permits the public and educators to use them freely.

There was just one small hitch; the new regulations didn't explicitly
require that the license permit redistribution of modified versions.
Without this condition, users could create modified versions, but
might not be able to then share those modified versions with others
who could benefit. The ability to share modified versions is important
not just to add value to the materials; it is also necessary to
respect the rights of computer users. If this condition were missing,
then grant-funded works could potentially be released under a license
that failed to guarantee all of the four freedoms required for a
work to be considered free software.

So we asked free software activists to help us let the Department know
about the issue, requesting that you send us comments of your own or
to co-sign the comment we were submitting for the FSF. People from all
over the U.S. (and even some from around the world) responded by
sending in thoughtful comments and requests to join our statement. We
have now mailed those comments to the Department, and are hopeful that
they will aid in making sure the new regulations accomplish the goals
set out for them.

We also sent a letter with our submission explaining why we had
to print and physically mail these comments. The only way to submit
comments electronically is to use the government's Regulations.gov
portal, which is encumbered by proprietary JavaScript. Users
shouldn't have to choose between permitting non-free software on their
computers and being able to communicate with their
government. Governments should promote the use of free software,
not impede it. While the Department doesn't control the portal (many
agencies use it), we wanted to put the issue on their radar --
especially since requiring proprietary JavaScript is inconsistent with
the very principles their proposed regulations seek to advance.

We are hopeful that the Department will respond to our comments, and
make the small correction that is necessary to prevent the proposal
from being a near-miss. We will keep you updated on progress. Thank
you to everyone who shared their comments with us, and to everyone who
helped bring this proposal to fruition!

Didn't get a chance to join in on the effort? Here's what you can
still do to help: