The Belgian government has just released the source code for the software used in the 2008 elections to the public. The news was first reported by the Open Source Observatory & Repository Europe; the files are presented in two zipfiles that contain mostly C and C++ source code.

As the OSOR found, there appears to be a lack of documentation and licensing information:

A spokesperson for the Directorate could not immediately comment on questions regarding licences and copyright. However, Ywein Van den Brande, a Brussels-based lawyer specialised in software licences, said that making the software available as download is a form of distribution. This means the government should at least add the GNU GPL licence text and print the appropriate copyright notices. “It is a little shocking the government is not aware of this.”

Upon closer inspection of the files, I also found several that have the following text in them:

* This code is hereby placed in the public domain.

These files contain no other licensing information, and most contain no licensing information at all. There is also an interesting mix of english- and french language source code and documentation that makes this look like a project that was quickly assembled from various existing pieces of software, without taking the time to properly document the inner workings and, even worse, without checking how the various pieces are licensed.

I’m looking forward to the first analysis of this code by a programmer; there might be some interesting bugs and pieces of code in these files! The files can be downloaded here.