CESSI's letter (v1) objecting the bill E-135/02-03
cessi A R G E N T I N A.
Chamber of Software and Information Technology Services
Buenos Aires, 4 October 2002.
Mr. Committee Member
General Legislative Committee
Honorable Chamber of Senators
of the Province of Buenos Aires
D. Alberto Conde
We are pleased to address the Senate of the Province of Buenos Aires and its Honorable Senators regarding Bill E-135/02-03, sponsored by Senator Alberto Conde, concerning the "USE OF FREE SOFTWARE IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR IN THE PROVINCE OF BUENOS AIRES".
Allow us to introduce ourselves: the Chamber of Software and Information Technology Services of the Republic of Argentina (CESSI), an entity that brings together companies that are active in the area of information and communications technologies in our country, including many members that have the production and sale of computer programs as either their primary business, or one of their activities. Therefore, anything that could hinder the general development of this sector of the market, or that affects the regime of free competition in that market, or that threatens the intellectual property rights of the members of CESSI, falls under the responsibility of our Chamber and demands that we adopt a position on the issue and make it known to the authorities.
Regarding our sector, we report that:
We include some 500 businesses, which employ around 15,000 people in highly qualified technical jobs.
We generated revenues on the order of U$S 1.5 billion in 2001. A drop in billing of about 50% in dollars is anticipated for 2002.
We constitute a sector that could expand significantly through exporting software and services, potentially generating 9,000 additional jobs over the next three years.
All of these companies do business in the local or international market in a framework of healthy competition, winning market share on the basis of the merit of their offerings.
Our association includes large companies as well as small- and medium-sized businesses, subsidiaries of large international firms and companies totally controlled by local owners. Some of these businesses provide their customers with the source code of the programs they produce while others keep it strictly secret, depending on what suits their commercial purposes. But all of our member companies, whatever commercial practices they adopt, believe that the intangible goods protected under the rules of intellectual property, their computer programs, make up the most value part of their assets and deserve the greatest care.
Given the preceding, our chamber does not call into question the technological validity nor the efficiency of software systems that are normally made free to the public under the open source model, nor does it object to those who find it suitable to grant free license for the use of its computer programs. But we must object to the following:
The proposition that the Argentine National State exclude from its list of providers producers of computer programs that want to abide by the common practice of licenses limited and determined by their intellectual property. The State, like any other customer, must choose its providers based on the merits their its products (cost can be a factor), and not discriminate based on the model of product licensing.
The recommendation of a regime of exception for contracting intellectual property licenses for the Argentine National State, precisely at a moment when it aspires to achieve a competitive advantage for national companies, which obviously requires transparency and equality of opportunity for all those who risk capital and intellectual effort for the creation of new, intangible goods.
In CESSI's opinion, the proposed legislation does not constitute an appropriate option to benefit the country because it does not provide the Argentine National State or the Government of the Province of Buenos Aires with the greatest ability to choose the implementation of its data processing systems, and because it could be a significant restraint on the development of the local industry of computer software.
Just like any other user that appropriately exercises its economic and technological freedom, the Government of the Province of Buenos Aires is perfectly capable of choosing open source systems in as many situations as it wishes, and can even establish appropriate conditions on the public bids that it calls for.
On this matter we recommend performing a thorough cost-benefit analysis, given that the costs of a technology project are not limited to licenses for using the software, but include other real and opportunity costs, such as the costs of installation, training, maintenance, version control, support, and provider responsibility (difficult to obtain for free software), which are generally more significant than the initial costs of software licenses.
We would like to make clear our full willingness to cooperate in the mission of collecting the information that will permit complete illumination of the issue in question.
Dr. Jorge A. Cassino
Ing. José María Scarpa
Attached: Report on press coverage of sector.
Uruguay 880 Piso 1° (1015) Buenos Aires
Tel./Fax:(54-11) 4815-9083 // 4815-4721
e-mail: email@example.com http: www.cessi.org.ar
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