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SSC issues guidance for open source licensing

SSC issues guidance for open source licensing

The State Services Commission has issued guidance for New Zealand departments about the legal risks and issues associated with the use of open source software licenses, Laurence Millar announced today.

Mr Millar, Deputy Commissioner Information and Communications
Technology, said that the guidance was intended to clarify some of the legal issues for government departments and to provide assistance with appropriate approaches to using open source products.

"Open source solutions are increasingly proving to be a good fit for some government requirements. It is important that government departments can make an informed choice about the benefits and risks of using open source," Mr Millar said.

The SSC guidance includes recommendations about the types of specific licences to use, distribution strategies, and the situations in which departments might acquire or use open source licenses.

"This guidance is intended to promote awareness of some of the legal implications of using open source, and to ensure that government departments have the freedom to make informed choices about their software.

"Last year's IRD Suse Linux deal and the SSC's distribution of Plone, the open source content management system, are examples of the increased uptake of open source in New Zealand government.

"The SSC is encouraged by this increase in diversity and choice for government departments. A growing understanding of the issues is a key part of that process," Mr Millar said.

Mr Millar said that the SSC's overall position on open source was published in a 2003 briefing to the State Services Minister, and that the advice still stands.

"Government agencies will still make their decisions based on the four fundamentals: cost, functionality, interoperability, and security," he said.

Further information about the use of Open source software by New
Zealand government agencies can be read here:

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