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1.12.2006 | Von:
Fernanda Weiden

"Microsoft loves piracy"

Can you name particular initiatives?

Venezuela, now, is starting to migrate its systems to free software. The Brazilian government is migrating its systems to free software as well. And they started to develop software for things the citizens have to deal with, like income taxes, software that can run independent from platforms, so they don't oblige you to use a specific platform. So you don't have to buy Windows to be able to talk with your government or fill out forms for income taxes.

They also started huge programs for digital inclusion, again using free software. The government finances and creates "telecentres", which is a place with computers and access to the internet, where people can have access without having to pay. Usually, the government starts, and then the community takes on the responsibility to run this telecentre. The communities organise themselves, they promote talks, mini-courses and such things to teach others about technology. In the city of São Paulo, more than 500.000 people have access to technology, most of them for the first time, using free software in one of these places.

Another project I find very nice are the Cultural Ministry's "pontos de cultura", "culture points". This project was originally created by a community – I participated in the creation. Brazil is a huge country. We have a lot of different cultural scenarios inside Brazil. So we realized that these people don't have any way to produce their own culture if they depend on a big record company, a big movie company for that. So the project tested the minimum hardware that would be required to build a multimedia studio, and gave this equipment – together with free software – to the communities in order to build multimedia centres and produce culture locally.

Apart from breaking dependency: What are the possibilities of open source models for developing countries in general?

Take the local economy, the local IT industry. For instance, in Brazil, one third of all the money that goes into the IT industry, goes into other countries as payment for licences of proprietary software. That's not a lot. But if this money stays in Brazil, it helps to build a stronger national IT industry. Today, we are not building an IT industry; most of the companies we have are vendors of other companies abroad, and they don't care about Brazilian people.

As free software gives you access to the source code and the freedom to modify and redistribute it, it gives you the possibility to create a business model around that. There are now a couple of examples for companies in Brazil which develop a business around free software, and they are doing well.


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