Free Software Used To Fight Piracy, Broaden Knowledge Access In Ecuador 22/04/2010 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)A joint project being launched by a regional non-profit group along with the Ecuador’s intellectual property office (IEPI) aims to reduce software piracy by offering a free software alternative through public libraries. The initiative is meant to encourage the use of legal software and thereby lower the piracy rate. For the “Free Library” project, the Latin American Center for Intellectual Property Research for Development – known as Corporación Innovarte – has signed an agreement with the national IP office (IEPI), the Free Software Foundation of Ecuador and the associations of libraries. Corporación Innovarte aims to promote access to knowledge, innovation, and culture as tools for development. The project is meant to use libraries as a vector to build a distribution channel for free software available to users. Free software will be offered as part of the usual library collections. The initiative will disseminate free software among the population, serving two goals: offering people different options while supporting the “spread of educational and research possibilities,” and contributing to the limitation of illegal software use. According to the Free Software Foundation, free software allows the user “to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.” Access to the source code is a precondition for this. The copies can be redistributed either with or without modifications, for a price or free of charge “to anyone, anywhere.” Free software is a matter of liberty, not price, says the foundation’s definition of the term, which adds: “free, as in free speech, not as in free beer.” Free software advocates say that they are in favour of copyright as free software depends on copyright. The initiative is strongly supported by IEPI in Ecuador, according to Luis Villarroel, director of Corporación Innovarte, and former Chilean delegate to the World Intellectual Property Organization. “The Ecuador IP office is the first IP office to endorse a campaign of this type,” he told Intellectual Property Watch, making it a step to promoting the respect for copyright in a “positive and constructive way.” The project also was started in Chile, but the IP office has proved more reluctant to “support a campaign in favour of free software.” In this country, the NGO invited libraries to information workshops and approached libraries on a one-by-one basis. Libraries volunteering to participate were given “one or two CDs” containing the software, which they can lend, reproduce or even modify if they wish, Villarroel said. There is a pilot phase of the project in Nicaragua, and in Uruguay the librarians’ association has been approached in order to start the project later in the year. In Ecuador, the distribution of software is made through the library association and the free software community, he said. The financing of the project is a challenge and Corporación Innovarte is working on finding some additional funding. The free software companies might be asked to support the project with in-kind contributions, he said. According to Gina Brito, coordinator of the Ecuador Free Library project, in April 2008, Ecuador President Rafael Correa signed a decree allowing free software to be used in the state administration. There are 19 programmes in the CD distributed to libraries in Ecuador, she said, all of them usable on a Windows platform, and some alternatives to popular mainstream software. The software can be installed and the programmes come with a user’s guide. The project’s name is Biblioteca Libre and it is part of the campaign named “Legalízate.” This campaign means “legalise your activity by using free software,” according to Andrés Ycaza Mantilla, president of the Ecuadorean IP Office (IEPI). The campaign is based on “the understanding that one of the reasons for piracy is the high costs of ordinary software,” he told Intellectual Property Watch. IEPI has an active role in the Biblioteca Libre project but “it also currently supports anti-piracy campaigns organised by non-free software organisations, such as the Business Software Alliance,” he added. BSA produces statistics annually showing billions in lost revenues due to piracy. But some have questioned their calculation that any pirated version should be counted as a lost sale at full price. The campaign is part of IEPI’s campaign against piracy on internet, he said. “IEPI has a broad anti-piracy campaign called “Ecuador Original”. Biblioteca Libre is part of this campaign, Ycaza Mantilla said. The number of libraries involved in the project is not yet determined but IEPI would like to have “as many libraries as possible” but at the same time a minimum of infrastructure and organisation, Ycaza Mantilla said. At the same time, IEPI “supports the anti-piracy initiatives that have been done by the software industry. We believe that they have had a positive effect in fighting software piracy in the country, and wish that other international industries will follow their example in having a proactive role defending their IP rights in Ecuador,” he said. William New contributed to this story. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Free Software Used To Fight Piracy, Broaden Knowledge Access In Ecuador" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.