Attendees at this year's World Social Forum in Brazil have been told that developing nations should embrace open source software.
The Forum, held by non-governmental organisations as a counter to the World Economic Forum in Davos, held a special meeting to discuss software licensing.
It was addressed by John Barlow, a lyricist for the Grateful Dead and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Gilberto Gil, Brazil's minister of culture, and Lawrence Lessig, Stanford University law professor and chairman of Creative Commons.
Barlow pointed out that developing nations had no need to spend desperately needed currency on proprietary software when open source alternatives were available at little or no cost.
"Brazil already spends more in licensing fees on proprietary software than it spends on hunger," he said.
Barlow's remarks followed earlier comments by Brazil's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva that open source software was a logical choice as only 10 per cent of his country had PCs and the government was the biggest software purchaser.
Chile and China already have extensive open source projects within government and private industry. Fears about the competition represented by open source software were credited for Microsoft's decision to offer a cut down version of Windows for the developing market.
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