Free software as a World Cultural Heritage: action at LSM 2002

Libre Software Meeting and our working group sent an invitation to the UNESCO Director General, M. Koïchiro Matsuura, to present the Free Software community and give him copies of some of our work (The AbulEdu, Debian and GNU projects to be more precise).

We got an answer from Abdul Waheed Khan, UNESCO Communication and information department, telling us the Director General wasn't available at this date
(answer in digital version and snail mail scan). So UNESCO was represented by M. Abdoulaye Diakité.

"UNESCO has always supported the extension and dissemination of human knowledge and recognizes that, in the domain of software, Free Software disseminates human knowledge in a way proprietary software cannot do. UNESCO recognizes also that the development of Free Software encourages solidarity, collaboration and voluntary community work amongst programmers and computer users."

A round table took place with the participation of Anne Ostergaard from SSLUG (Denmark), Philippe Aigrain from the European Commission, Abdoulaye Diakité from UNESCO, François Pellegrini from ABUL as chairman and Benoît Sibaud, coordinator for our project on the scene, as well as many LSM participants in the audience. Sébastien Blondeel acted as translator.

Round table pictures:

PA, AO, AD and BS
640x480 24 kB

AO and AD
640x480 26 kB

PA, AO, AD and BS
640x480 17 kB

AO, AD and BS
640x480 60 kB

Jean Peyratout gave M. Diakité copies of French distributions AbulEdu and Debian Éducation for education, Loïc Dachary a Debian CDROM set and Richard Stallman a copy of the GNU project.

CDROM gifts pictures:

JP and AD
640x480 26 kB

LD and AD
350x341 77 kB

RMS and AD
738x542 42 kB

Then Benoît Sibaud did a presentation of our working group, its objectives and progress. Slides "Libre software, Patrimony of mankind in English".

Presentation pictures:

640x480 62 kB

640x480 72 kB

The presentation was followed by a speech from Mr Diakité and a discussion about Free Software and World Heritage.

LSM organisation (thanks to Alix Guillard) produced a press release:

UNESCO responds to the request from the Free Software
community to inscribe Free Software to the World Heritage List.

Bordeaux, Friday the 12th, 2002 - Five hundred Free Software users and
specialists gathered at the ENSEIRB on the campus of the University of
BordeauxI (France) for a full week of promotion and sharing around
Free Software during the Libre Software Meeting from the 9th to the 13th of July.
M. Abdoulaye Diakité attended the last plenary session as the
representant of UNESCO. M. Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software
Foundation, and a group of Free Software developers gave officially to M.
Diakité copies of GNU and Abuledu software and Debian system, of all which is
Free Software.

Free Software is software which guarantees four fundamental freedoms:
the freedom to use software, to redistribute it, and to modify and publish
modified versions. Thanks to these freedoms, users from the whole world
are able to translate, improve and adapt their software for their own
needs. Thus, Free Software contributes to ensure the protection of local
cultures, multinlingualism, development and conservation of information.

This is the reason why UNESCO, an organization who defends the same
values, was eager to respond to the invitation of the Free Software
community and to take part in the LSM. "UNESCO has always encouraged
the extension and the diffusion of knowledge and recognizes that in
the field of software, Free Software spreads this knowledge in the way
that proprietary software does not allow. UNESCO also recognizes that
the development of Free Software encourages solidarity, cooperation
and community teamwork between developers and users of new technologies".
Declared M. Adbul Waheed Khan, from the UNESCO Communication and Information
Department, in his letter to the organizers of the event.

So, by symbolically receiving the work of many thousands of developers,
UNESCO receives at the same time the request to register Free Software
to the Immaterial World Heritage List. During the conference, participants
agreed that this classification would give support to the Free Software
community in its opposition to software patentability which would hinder
its development. This would also contribute to give a higher profile
to Free Software in order to fight against the digital divide and to
foster the independence of users of new technologies around the globe.

Press contact:

Mr Diakité official report is available on the UNESCO free software portal.