Free Software: Behind the Scenes

We wrote a few weeks ago about how Conservancy has several projects that support new people or less technical people and help bring new people into free software. We also support many projects that most folks probably don't think about very often. Many of our projects exist relatively outside of the spotlight and facilitate the creation of free software by providing tools, systems and infrastructure for developers.

The FSF is 5,000 members strong -- thanks to you

In the first week of January, we closed the Free Software Foundation's end of the year fundraiser and associate membership drive, and we'd like to thank you for your generosity and support. Because of you, we've raised $441,802 and had 488 new associate members join -- surpassing our goal of 400 new members. Thank you for donating, joining, and spreading the word.

Your support is just what we need to push the free software movement to new frontiers. Our ever-growing base of members, donors, and activists are the backbone of our work and free software. Without you, we wouldn't have been able to raise over $440,000 for software freedom. With the 488 new members, we now have more than 5,000 active FSF members. Thanks to you, we'll be able to expand the staff of the FSF, increasing our organizational capacity, ability to work on issues that matter, and build the community; certify more Respects Your Freedom products to ensure that your devices run free software out of the box, and continue enforcing the GNU General Public License and leading other copyleft efforts; build our technical infrastructure and provide greater support for the many projects that rely on the FSF; create new items for our catalog of cool new swag and engaging publications from the GNU Press Shop; ramp up the fight against DRM; and create a better future for free software.

We're excited to see what 2019 brings, which is only possible because of you. Thank you.

Richard Stallman - "A Free Digital Society" (Mandya, India)

There are many threats to freedom in the digital society. They include massive surveillance, censorship, digital handcuffs, nonfree software that controls users, and the War on Sharing. Other threats come from use of web services. Finally, we have no positive right to do anything in the Internet; every activity is precarious, and can continue only as long as companies are willing to cooperate with it.

Richard Stallman will be inaugurating FSMKCamps (2019-01-20–24), a workshop organized by Free Software Movement Karnataka. His speech will be nontechnical, admission to it is gratis, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Location: PES (People's Education Society College of Engineering) College of Engineering, Mandya, Karnataka

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Mandya.

Sage Weil: Challenges and Hope

This is part of our ongoing series on generous matching donors. Sage is the principal architect of Ceph, a completely distributed free software storage platform. Sage serves on the advisory board for CROSS, a program that turns technology created through student research into successful free and open source projects. He even won the O'Reilly Open Source Award in 2013 for his work. Sage and several other outstanding individuals are joining Private Internet Access and a big anonymous donor in offering a total of $90K in matching funds (just through January 15th!) to Conservancy for our continued work to support community-driven licensing and governance practices.

John Sullivan - "JavaScript: If you love it, set it free" (FOSDEM, Brussels, Belgium)

FSF executive director John Sullivan will be giving his speech “JavaScript: If you love it, set it free” at (2019-02-02–03):

The vast majority of JavaScript carries no license or copyright notice at all, often because of concerns about optimizing bandwidth and speed, but also because of a lack of awareness. As JavaScript developers, you are well-positioned to help solve this problem -- by clearly licensing your code, by making improvements to the common tooling, and by providing important feedback on what licensing methods make the most sense.

The lack of clear licensing info, especially when combined with minification, makes most JavaScript proprietary for the users who receive and execute it in their browsers, even if the source code is available elsewhere on the Internet in some repository under a free license. The lack also means rampant license violations, for both permissively and reciprocally licensed code. The Free Software Foundation has proposed and implemented a couple of licensing metadata methods by which JavaScript which is intended to be free software can clearly say so, and therefore actually respect the freedom of its users. This is the first step in compliant and realistic distribution of copyleft-licensed JavaScript, as well as a step toward allowing free software users to run only free software inside the browser as they do outside the browser. Other approaches have been proposed as well. We will discuss these questions and seek input on the approaches so far, and hopefully leave with some momentum to make positive changes.

Location: Javascript devroom, H.1308 (Rolin), Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

We hope you can attend the speech, or meet John at the conference.

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Brussels.

Molly de Blanc - "The margins of software freedom" (Brussels, Belgium)

Everyone needs user freedom, but the ways through which it impacts our daily lives vary widely based on factors like gender, location, and race. At-risk communities, marginalized groups, and minorities need copyleft more than ever, as computing technologies find their ways into our homes, our bodies, and the most private parts of our lives.

Location: DigitYser, Boulevard d’Anvers 40, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Brussels.

FSFE is hiring: Fundraising Manager

FSFE is hiring: Fundraising Manager

We are looking for a Fundraising Manager to support our work to empower people to control technology. The person will work 35 hours per week with our team in the Berlin office, being in charge of the FSFE's individual and corporate fundraising.

About the FSFE

Free Software Foundation Europe is a charity that empowers users to control technology. Software is deeply involved in all aspects of our lives; and it is important that this technology empowers rather than restricts us. Free Software gives everybody the rights to use, understand, adapt and share software. These rights help support other fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech, press and privacy.

The FSFE helps individuals and organisations to understand how Free Software contributes to freedom, transparency, and self-determination. It enhances users' rights by abolishing barriers to Free Software adoption, encourages people to use and develop Free Software, and provides resources to enable everyone to further promote Free Software in Europe.

We are involved in legal, economic, political, and technical projects around Free Software (see our work areas and our campaigns).

Our work is made possible by a community of volunteers, supporters and donors. To make this community more sustainable, we are looking for a Fundraising Manager to help us sustainably grow the FSFE's supporter base and increase our grants and donations. The Fundraising Manager will develop, adjust, and implement fundraising strategies and goals in close cooperation with our team of employees and volunteers.

Main responsibilities Constant development, adjustment, and implementation of fundraising strategies and goals, Coordination of fundraising campaigns, Independent identification of fundraising opportunities, as well as establishing and taking care of networks and contacts, Monitor grant opportunities and write applications, Content-related development, analysis, and maintenance of databases, Update and modify websites, promo material, and the FSFE's public appearance, in order to match with fundraising goals, Handle finances for EU projects and other project grants, Financial responsibilities for and controlling of fundraising related processes, Update of transparency pages and other reporting about funds. Qualifications Work experience with fundraising for non-profit charities in the field of individual and corporate donors and grant management, Knowledge and experience in understanding the financial side of the charitable non-profit sector, Basic knowledge about accounting and controlling, Very reliable and well-organised, Data analysis skills, Good communication skills, Ablility to understand legal, economic, political, and slightly technical arguments about Free Software, and then being able to lead projects which involve people from those different backgrounds, Fluency in written and spoken English; other European languages are considered an asset, Being able to work with HTML and CSS to improve website content under version control system, or learn it fast, Basic graphic design skills are a nice-to-have, Knowledge about how to use a GNU/Linux laptop is a plus, Knowledge about the Free Software field and affinity with the FSFE's values and mission. Ability to communicate the FSFE's work towards people and organisations with technical, political, legal, or economic backgrounds, and working together with volunteers. Attitude

We are looking for a reliable and well-organised team player who is passionate about helping to increase the FSFE's budget so we can make the world a better place for further generations. While patiently and discreetly making concrete mid-term improvements, you should work sustainably and keep your long-term focus on the FSFE’s mission.

How to apply

To apply, please send a maximum one-page cover letter including a salary proposal for a 35 hour week and a maximum two-page CV (only PDFs are accepted) by email to, with the subject “Fundraising Manager”. Please do not include pictures of yourself in the application.

Your personal data will be deleted 3 months after we have made our decision. The closing date for applications is 3 February 2019. Interviews with selected candidates will take place in the beginning of February. The start date for the job will be March 2019. The employment will first last for 14 months.

Free Software is meant to serve everyone regardless of their age, ability or disability, gender identity, sex, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Hence, we encourage applications from all backgrounds and promise to judge all applications on merit, without reference to any of the characteristics listed. To promote diversity and equality in the Free Software community, we shall give preference to applicants who identify as part of a traditionally marginalised demographic in technology for applications of equal strength.

Support FSFE, join the Fellowship
Make a one time donation

Just a Few of the Talks We Gave in 2018

We gave lots of talks in 2018! One of the most important things we do is to bring fresh perspective on software freedom and to educate people about the most important issues facing our ability to have ethical technology. Many are a similar message - effective advocacy means meeting people where they are, and much of our introductory material is dipped into repeatedly, so we're not suggesting that you buy a van and follow us around. (Not to mention that you'd eventually need to cross the Atlantic, which you can't do in a van last time we checked.) Anyway, here a few of the talks that represent the critical free software themes that Conservancy staff discussed all year.

Join us at FOSDEM 2019!

FOSDEM is possibly the largest community organized conference for free and open source software. In Brussels the first weekend in February, FOSDEM brings thousands of free software contributors and enthusiasts together for an intense two days of talks, stands and socializing. FOSDEM celebrates its 20th year in 2019.

A message from Richard M. Stallman

The donation from the Pineapple Fund arrived in the form of Bitcoin and had gone down to around $860,000 by the time we could convert it all to dollars. Around half of the donation from Handshake is earmarked for specific software projects; some of that will go to improving Replicant, the free Android fork, but that half won't help fund the FSF's general operations.

We will need to add part of these donations to our reserves, which are meant to enable us to keep operating in the case of a possible downturn. That still leaves enough to expand our staff by two or three positions. We will be able to do some of the work that always needed doing but that we could not undertake.

We have added a position to the tech team so that they can upgrade the support platforms for GNU packages -- repositories, Web pages, translation, testing -- and publish about how we run the FSF without nonfree software.

We intend also to add another person to the Licensing and Compliance team, which certifies distributions and products and enforces the GNU General Public License. Because of the success of Respects Your Freedom, we have a long backlog of products to evaluate. Expanding the team will increase our ability to help people purchase hardware that runs entirely on free software.

We will also fund development of free JavaScript code to make certain Web sites function in the free world. Making sites depend on sending users nonfree JavaScript code has become fashionable, so that organizations and even governments do it without even thinking about it. The option to communicate with Web sites without running nonfree software is a crucial part of freedom for users of the World Wide Web. We will also continue improving the GNU LibreJS extension, and making GNU IceCat protect against JavaScript spyware techniques.

This year's surprise one-time donations make it possible for us to hire additional staff and do more work, but we can't coast very long on them alone; we will need to continue paying the staff to keep doing the work. Most of our income, these donations aside, comes from individual donors giving less than $200 a year. To carry on with this work, we need your support.

The increased operations, as we are planning them now, will still not do all that needs to be done to win freedom in computing. You can enable us to continue -- and to undertake the other work that we are still not doing -- by joining the Free Software Foundation or donating now. Even better, do both!