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Software Heritage

Morgane Hamon (*) - 26/02/2019

UNESCO, in partnership with Inria and Software Heritage, is publishing the Paris Call to raise awareness of the preservation of and access to software source code

This Call is addressed to all actors, from governments to companies, civil society and developers and inventors who are imagining the next disruptive technologies. Software source code is now an essential heritage for humanity, and there is an urgent need to raise awareness among decision-makers and to recognize the contribution of all software creators to digital innovation.

Software Heritage at the service of society, science and industry

In April 2017, Inria signed a framework agreement with UNESCO on the preservation and sharing of software source code, focusing on the Software Heritage initiative, whose mission is to collect, preserve and make accessible the source code of all publicly accessible software. In June 2018, a new milestone was reached, with the opening to the public, at an event at UNESCO Headquarters, of the Software Heritage archive, which contains more than 5 billion unique source files, from more than 85 million different origins.

Continuing and deepening this collaboration with UNESCO, Inria has helped to bring together a group of international experts whose work is now leading to the Paris Call, an effort to raise awareness about the preservation of and access to software source code as a pillar of our present and a catalyst for our future.

Preserving the source code of software as a heritage is an important way to capitalize on the knowledge acquired in recent human history in order to foster innovation and advance our understanding of ourselves and our environment. The preservation of technological and scientific knowledge contained in the source code of software is therefore crucial for human civilization. 

  • Moez Chakchouk, Deputy Secretary-General of UNESCO for information and communication

Software is our heritage

This call advocates for better access to software source code and increased efforts to give citizens, and in particular young people, the skills and knowledge to participate fully in increasingly digitally connected societies. The report to the experts, annexed to the Paris Call, underlines the importance of preserving software in general, and software source code in particular, as important levers for sustainable development.

There is an urgent need for a massive awareness of the importance of software as a valuable intellectual heritage. The Paris Appeal is a solid basis for imagining and building new actions around the preservation and enhancement of software source code, and to support the development of free software.

The preservation and sharing of software source code, which is at the heart of UNESCO's cooperation with Inria, is everyone's business. We invite all actors to take up the Paris Call and contribute to the mission of Software Heritage.

Keywords: Software heritage Free software Open source UNESCO

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