Open source is illegal?

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Really? Sadly, this isn't merely a provocative title, but rather is a real issue in some countries. The Slovak Republic is one of the few countries without localized Creative Commons licenses. Slovak copyright law does not consider open licenses such as CC or the GPL valid, because Slovak law requires a signed contract between both the copyright holder and the licensee. On the bright side, this is slowly changing - the Slovak Ministry of Culture has promised to update and reform the Copyright Act later this year.

While the Slovak Republic is slowly moving forward on the issue of open licenses, Romania appears to have taken a step backwards. The Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs recently banned open source solutions from a public tender of almost 3 milion euro due to 'internal and European interoperability requirements'. The tender specifically says "All versions of software that are part of the offer may not be published under a 'free software license' - GPL or similar".

When asked about the restriction by citizens of the European Union, from whose taxes the project is paid, the Ministry responded, "Despite the fact the MAI administers GPL systems and encourages their use, for the time being all critical systems are implemented on Enterprise platforms, in order to be able to follow strict requirements for security and interoperability."

After several days, the Ministry decided to cancel the tender due to serious violations of legislative provisions. I am looking forward to the new tender which, hopefully, will not discrimate against open source solutions.

By contrast, governments throughout the world are recognizing that open source is a viable solution for their mission critical goals. Among the most recent developments, Australia and the UK have adopted affirmative policy statements on open source. And just this past January, the US Government (with its tradition of strong IP enforcement) issued a government-wide memo with a succinct, clear message to Executive Branch IT leaders: Don't discriminate between proprietary and open source solutions.

If open source is banned because of a security risk on Enterprise platforms, I'm wondering why entities like the New York Stock Exchange or the USA's National Security Agency do not share this problem.
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