ISOC Bulgaria criticises report US Trade Representative

By EDRi · June 2, 2005

EDRI-member ISOC Bulgaria has sent an angry letter in May 2005 to the US Trade Representative about grave errors in their recent Special 301 Report.

The Bulgarian organisation defends the Bulgarian government for its attempts to solve the problems with the illegal usage of software, music and films. In the 5-page letter, also sent to the US Ambassador to Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Ambassador to the USA and to the Bulgarian minister of culture, ISOC-Bulgaria protests against the use of fake data in the report. Allegedly these data were provided by the Business Software Alliance through their Bulgarian representative.

The letter comes as part of the continuous efforts of the Bulgarian Internet Society to ensure that all software companies are treated equally and fairly by the government, in stead of special, complimentary relations. The most recent result of these efforts is a statement by the Bulgarian Minister of State Administration. In May 2005 he announced that he will not renew the contract between the government and Microsoft. This contract was closed in 2002, but has been heavily criticised since, both nationally and internationally.

Under this contract, the government paid 450 US dollar per computer for the 3-year rent of MS WindowsXP and MS OfficeXP. At the same time the price for the same software for same time period, obtained via the Bulgarian IT association – a company of hardware assemblers – was 220 US dollar. And just a few months before signing the agreement, the government bought (not rented) 10.000 copies of MS Windows and Office for 1 million dollar (a mere 100 dollar per copy).

In an interview with the International Herald Tribune Veni Markovski, the chair of ISOC-Bulgaria, sums up the problems with this contract. The Bulgarian government spent 13.6 million US dollar on Microsoft’s Windows XP products in 2002, paying twice the official list price for the software which was purchased through a Microsoft retailer. “A third contract, for $1.5 million, was for 35,000 software licenses for schools, but Markovski maintains that there are no more than 850 computers in schools that could run the software. A Microsoft spokeswoman said the contract was jointly issued by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and that it covers up to 15,000 computers for public schools, with the rest being used by universities and the Academy of Science.”

After the letter from Markovski to the Chief Prosecution Office, the number of licenses the Ministry of Education and Science bought was reduced to 18.000.

IHT, Open-source software gets boost at UN (11.12.2003)

(Contribution by Dessi Pefeva, EDRI-member ISOC-Bulgaria)