Introducing Jake Glass, FSF campaigns and licensing intern

Hello software freedom supporters! I am Jake Glass, and I will be interning for both the campaigns and the licensing teams this fall/winter. I am a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where I earned an engineering degree in computer science, and I am currently in the process of applying to law school.

During my summers as an undergraduate, I worked in software development, where I began to consider the ethical ramifications of computing. I realized that my peers and I were often unintentionally building tools to exert social and political control. As the Snowden leaks were emerging around this time, it became clear to me that the pervasiveness of these tools is an imminent threat to freedom worldwide. This was my original motivation in supporting the free software movement: how can we be sure the programs running on our own machines are not spying on us without having access to the source, as required by the Four Freedoms? My interest in these issues concerning copyrights, patents, and civil rights on the Internet has convinced me to attend law school, where I can engage in formal study of these topics.

The FSF's campaigns target important opportunities for free software adoption and development, empower people against specific threats to their freedom, and build communities around free software. My work with the campaigns team will focus on preparing written material for the Libreplanet 2019 conference and the 2019 fundraising season. On the licensing side, I will be assisting in the FSF Licensing & Compliance Lab, the preeminent resource of free licensing for free software developers for over 20 years. Specifically, I will be helping free software developers with their questions sent to licensing@gnu.org, along with creating some new licensing educational material for gnu.org and fsf.org. I like to quickly describe my internship as copywriting and copyrights! I’m excited to explore the legal and ethical questions concerning computing while building my writing and analytical skills through a organization contributing to global good.

Outside of internet and software freedom, my technology interests include machine learning, data science, and distributed systems. When I'm not working with tech, I enjoy cooking, hockey, biking, and card games.

FSF job opportunity: web developer

This position, reporting to the executive director, works closely with our sysadmin team and chief technology officer to maintain and improve the FSF's Web presence. The FSF uses several different free software Web platforms in the course of our work, both internally and externally. These platforms are critical to work supporting the GNU Project, free software adoption, free media formats, and freedom on the Internet; and to opposing bulk surveillance, Digital Restrictions Management, software patents, and proprietary software.

We are looking for someone who is comfortable with keeping these systems up-to-date and working, as well as customizing them when necessary. While the main duties will relate to the backend systems, frontend experience with templates, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and design tools will be a big plus. The web developer will help lead major projects, such as the relaunch of https://www.fsf.org and migration of https://audio-video.gnu.org to GNU MediaGoblin. They will also be part of the team running the annual LibrePlanet conference, and contribute to decisions about which new platforms to use or which existing ones to retire.

Examples of platforms maintained by the web developer include, but are not limited to:

  • CiviCRM
  • Drupal
  • MediaWiki
  • Plone / Zope
  • Ikiwiki
  • Request Tracker
  • Etherpad
  • CAS
  • GNU social
  • GNU MediaGoblin
  • Icecast

Because the FSF works globally and seeks to have our materials distributed in as many languages as possible, multilingual candidates will have an advantage. With our small staff of fourteen, each person makes a clear contribution. We work hard, but offer a humane and fun work environment at an office located in the heart of downtown Boston.

The FSF is a mature but growing organization that provides great potential for advancement; existing staff get the first chance at any new job openings. This position is also a good starting point for anyone who might be interested in other roles on our technical team in the future.

Benefits and salary

This job is a union position that must be worked on-site at the FSF's downtown Boston office. The salary is fixed at $53,269/year, and is non-negotiable. Benefits include:

  • fully subsidized individual or family health coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield;
  • partially subsidized dental plan;
  • four weeks of paid vacation annually;
  • seventeen paid holidays annually;
  • weekly remote work allowance;
  • public transit commuting cost reimbursement;
  • 403(b) program with employer match;
  • yearly cost-of-living pay increases based on government guidelines;
  • health care expense reimbursement;
  • ergonomic budget;
  • relocation (to Boston area) expense reimbursement;
  • conference travel and professional development opportunities; and
  • potential for an annual performance bonus.

Application instructions

Applications must be submitted via email to hiring@fsf.org. The email must contain the subject line "web developer." A complete application should include:

  • resume;
  • cover letter; and
  • links to any previous work online.

All materials must be in a free format. Email submissions that do not follow these instructions will probably be overlooked. No phone calls or paper applications, please.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled. To guarantee consideration, submit your application by Friday, November 30, 2018.

The FSF is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or application for employment on the basis of race, color, marital status, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, handicap, or any other legally protected status recognized by federal, state or local law. We value diversity in our workplace. Women, people of color and LGBTQ individuals are strongly encouraged to apply.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at https://www.fsf.org and https://www.gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. We are based in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at https://www.fsf.org/press.

The completion of David's internship work on the Free Software Directory

For context, see the previous blog post, David's internship work on the Free Software Directory, part 2

One of the main projects of my internship has been importing information about free software extensions for Mozilla-based browsers on the Free Software Directory based on data from addons.mozilla.org. I call this project FreeAMO (AMO stands for addons.mozilla.org) and it exists as part of the directory package on Savannah. After many weeks of work, it generates usable directory entries. In the same project is a script to import entries from the Debian package repository. I also fixed bugs in that script, and got it to a usable state. However, before importing entries to the Directory, we want to solve one remaining issue: making it so we can import the data automatically on a regular basis, but also allow users to edit parts of the imported entry. I hope to complete this work sometime after my internship is done.

One of the issues I encountered when developing FreeAMO is that license names in the AMO package metadata are not the same as in the Directory. There is an effort to standardize license names called SPDX. I decided to take on the task of getting the Directory to adopt the latest SPDX license names. I created the Free Software Directory SPDX Group to coordinate this project. There are over 200 licenses and 16,000 packages on the Directory. Each package can have multiple licenses. I clearly needed to automate the renaming process. I used the Replace Text MediaWiki extension. After some trial and error and work to improve its performance, I finally renamed most of the licenses.

There are still packages with nonstandard license names that need to be evaluated one by one. One common issue is explained in the article For Clarity's Sake, Please Don't Say “Licensed under GNU GPL 2”! When people tell you a program is released “under GNU GPL version 2,” they are leaving the licensing of the program unclear. Is it released under GPL-2.0-only, or GPL-2.0-or-later? Can you merge the code with packages released under GPL-3.0-or-later?

Unfortunately, Mozilla is contributing to this problem because when someone uploads an addon package to addons.mozilla.org, they are asked to specify which license the package is under by selecting from a drop-down list of licenses. Then that name is displayed on addons.mozilla.org. However, the GPL license options are ambiguous and don't specify "only" and "or-later." To accurately specify the license, uploaders should choose "Custom License" and then mention the correct license in the description field. We hope Mozilla will change this, but since the Directory only lists free addons, and anyone can improve the Directory, we encourage people to use it instead of addons.mozilla.org.

I learned a great deal from my internship and from working with the FSF staff: Ian Kelling, Andrew Engelbrecht, and Donald Robertson. After taking some time off, I hope to continue contributing to the Directory.

Recent licensing updates

We recently published a number of updates to our licensing materials. While we generally post individual announcements for these types of important changes, there were so many in such a short span that we needed to combine them all in one place. We recently added two licenses to our list of Various Licenses and Comments about Them, updated our article on License Compatibility and Relicensing, and added a new entry to the Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses. What follows is a brief rundown on those changes, and how you can learn more about free software licensing.

Commons Clause

We added the Commons Clause to our list of nonfree licenses. Not a stand-alone license in and of itself, it is meant to be added to an existing free license to prevent using the work commercially, rendering the work nonfree. It's particularly nasty given that the name, and the fact that it is attached to pre-existing free licenses, may make it seem as if the work is still free software.

If a previously existing project that was under a free license adds the Commons Clause, users should work to fork that program and continue using it under the free license. If it isn't worth forking, users should simply avoid the package. We are glad to see that in the case of Redis modules using the Commons Clause, people are stepping up to maintain free versions.

The Fraunhofer FDK AAC license

We recently added the Fraunhofer FDK AAC license to our list of licenses. This is a free license, incompatible with any version of the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL), but also contains a potential trap. While Fraunhofer provides a copyright license here, they explicitly decline to grant any patent license. In fact, they direct users to contact them to obtain a patent license. Users should act with caution in determining whether they feel comfortable using works under this license.

License Compatibility

In September, we added a new section to our article on License Compatibility and Relicensing, addressing combinations of code. This new section helps you to simplify the picture when dealing with a project that combines code under multiple compatible licenses. If complying with one license necessarily means compliance with the other, then you can reduce the question of complying with both in the following manner:

"[Y]ou start with a list of all the pertinent licenses. Then you can delete from the list any license which is subsumed by another in the list.

We say that license A subsumes license B when compliance with license A implies compliance with license B."

The updated section then goes on to list various examples of this in action. The list may be expanded in the future to cover more cases.

Translated Code

Finally, there is a new addition to our Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses, with an entry explaining what the GNU GPL says about translating code into another programming language. In short, since copyright law treats a translation as a modified version of a work, translating a program into another programming language has the same consequences as creating a modified version.

How to learn more

These updates touch upon quite a few different resources that we make available, but that's only the start of the materials we provide that can help you to understand free software licensing. For an overview of the resources available, visit us at https://www.fsf.org/licensing, or if you have questions, you can ask the Compliance Lab directly by emailing licensing@fsf.org. The Compliance Lab is our resource on free software licensing, providing materials and expertise to free software users and developers everywhere. Here's what you can do to help keep this vital program going strong:

Richard Stallman - « El software libre y tu libertad » (Bilbao, Spain)

Richard Stallman hablará sobre las metas y la filosofía del movimiento del Software Libre, y el estado y la historia del sistema operativo GNU, el cual junto con el núcleo Linux, es actualmente utilizado por decenas de millones de personas en todo el mundo.

Esta charla de Richard Stallman formará parte de LibreCon (2018-11-21–22). Será posible registrarse en efectivo el día del evento.

Lugar: "Inspiration Space," Palacio Euskalduna, Avda. Abandoibarra, 4, 48011 Bilbao, España

Por favor, rellene este formulario para que podamos contactarle sobre futuros eventos en la región de Bilbao.

LibrePlanet Call for Sessions to close THIS FRIDAY

The LibrePlanet 2019 conference call for sessions (CfS) deadline is nearly upon us! On Friday, November 9th, 2018, 10:00 EST (14:00 UTC), in four short days, we will close the CfS and begin the difficult task of deciding which talks to accept into the LibrePlanet 2019 program. We're excited to hear from new speakers and those new to free software, as well as those of you who have been around for years.

We want you to submit to the CfS.

LibrePlanet is an annual conference hosted by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for free software enthusiasts and anyone who cares about the intersection of technology and social justice. LibrePlanet brings together software developers, law and policy experts, activists, students, and computer users to learn skills, celebrate free software accomplishments, and face challenges to software freedom.

LibrePlanet 2019's theme is “Trailblazing Free Software.” In 1983, the free software movement was born with the announcement of the GNU Project. FSF founder Richard Stallman saw the dangers of proprietary code from the beginning: when code was kept secret from users, they would be controlled by the technology they used, instead of vice-versa. In contrast, free software emphasized a community-oriented philosophy of sharing code freely, enabling people to understand how the programs they use work, to build off of each other's code, to pay it forward by sharing their own code, and to create useful software that treats users fairly.

We're looking for sessions on a wide range of topics: art, community, education, legal, policy, and technical talks are just a few of the categories represented at previous LibrePlanet conferences. It's important to us to provide sessions that are friendly to newcomers and experienced hackers alike, and we welcome presentations for kids or teens.

Feel free to find some inspiration by browsing through the sessions programs of previous years: 2018 and 2017. You can also watch talks from past years on our MediaGoblin instance. Some sessions from previous years include:

  • A newcomer’s perspective on & patches for the free software movement
  • Copyleft, diversity, and critical infrastructure
  • Hardware reverse engineering insights from the MAME
  • libreCMC: The libre embedded GNU/Linux distro
  • Nurturing non-coders
  • State of the Onion
  • Technology for direct actions

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us at campaigns@fsf.org.

Alyssa Rosenzweig's summer internship wrap up

As you already know if you read my introductory blog post, over the summer, I interned with the Free Software Foundation tech team. A free software enthusiast, I joined the FSF in order to grow my appreciation, to work on interesting free software projects for which I normally would not have the opportunity, and to meet other free software supporters. My dreams were exceeded!

For my first project of the internship, I researched single-board computers in order to update the FSF's page detailing the freedom status of various single-board computers -- the page needed updating to reflect how software freedom continues to advance. You can read about my updates here.

For my second project, I was tasked with researching out-of-band remote server management. Like many organizations, the FSF hosts a number of servers, both on premises controlled by the FSF as well as external data centers. However, as anyone who has futzed with servers knows, computers are fickle. Even the most robust setup is prone to breaking once in a while... and sometimes those breakages can hang the server or prevent it from booting. Cue comic of a sysadmin asking, "Did you try turning it off and on again?"

The in-vogue free software solution is OpenBMC, a free software implementation of the IPMI remote administration stack. Unfortunately, due to the diversity of server boards we use, OpenBMC risked becoming a maintenance burden in and of itself.

Eventually, after a handful of whiteboard sessions with the tech team, I thought back on my work with ARM single-board computers. I realized a solution: rather than using a specialized BMC chip attached to the server motherboard, we could use an external single-board computer running GNU/Linux, remotely accessible over the Internet, connected to the various peripherals of interest. We settled on using a BeagleBone Black, which can run without proprietary blobs, connected to each server's serial port and power pins via USB-controlled relays. Finally, I wrapped up this system into a high-level utility, libremanage, and we were on our way.

My third and final project was still more ambitious. As you may know from my work with Panfrost, the free software driver for modern Mali GPUs, I enjoy liberating critical proprietary software by decoding its internal protocols and reimplementing them in freedom. So, we looked around for latent proprietary software involved with FSF operations. Although we eat our own dog food, there was one proprietary system that could not be ignored: PayPal, which recently began requiring nonfree JavaScript. Pah. Enter Pagamigo. (In Calculus, this is formally known as a p-series.)

Pagamigo liberates the proprietary software required to donate to organizations like the FSF or the Debian Project via PayPal. Soon, the FSF Web pages that take online payments will include instructions for using Pagamigo.

Unfortunately, everything good must come to an end. My summer classes finished; I have now returned home and am busy with fall semester classes. Still, although my internship with the FSF has ended, the lessons I have learned about free software will stay with me.

Annual report of the Free Software Foundation Europe 2018

Software freedom in Europe 2018

"Software freedom in Europe" is the yearly report of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). In one document, it gives you a breakdown of important things the FSFE has done and achieved during the last 12 months. In the 2018 report, you will read about our electoral campaigns, our input on the European Union's copyright reform, and about our successful outreach in demanding publicly financed software be made publicly available under a Free Software licence. You will also get insights about the events we (co-)organised and about our community and groups that helped us with these achievements. Finally, we will display some numbers showing what resources we counted on, and giving an outlook for the next year.

About the Free Software Foundation Europe

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a charity that empowers people to control technology by enabling access to software and its source code. The rights to use, study, share, and improve this software are essential to guarantee equal participation in democracies of the 21st century.

We work for a world in which everyone has access to the source code of the software that runs in the products we own, or that is essential to the public infrastructure and services of the society we live in. Access to this code should be embedded in a legal environment where people are able to change technologies in a way that fulfills their needs - individually or collectively. Therefore, any software that is used to run public infrastructure or is publicly financed has to be made publicly available.

To shape the future this way, we help people to understand Free Software and its assets today. We would like everyone to understand the four freedoms to use, study, share and improve, and how these freedoms are essential to freedom in our society as a whole.

To help people understand our message, we use public campaigns and political lobbying, we provide expertise in talks and personal meetings, we set up informational booths and organise events, we produce promotion material and explanatory videos. To achieve our goals, we base our work and form our movement with the help of our community and friends, who ensure that our message gets out and is heard in as many diverse parts of our society as possible. We work in a transparent and cooperative way.

If you like to join our cause, contribute or support us financially.

Table of contents

Campaigns in 2018 Public Money? Public Code! Free Software in the European Union's Copyright Directive The REUSE Initiative Electoral campaigns I Love Free Software Day 2018 Events we organised and participated in The FSFE Community Code of Conduct and the CARE team Staffers and team The association and its members Budgets and expenses Promotion material Merchandise Looking forward into 2019 Campaigns in 2018Public Money? Public Code!

Why is software, created using taxpayers' money, not released as Free Software? We started raising this question with our "Public Money? Public Code!" campaign, and received a lot of international attention and support. At the time of writing more than 18.500 individuals and more than 150 organisations signed our open letter demanding that code paid for by the people should be available to the people. As another strong sign that now is the right time to ask for public code, we have found the first public administration to sign our open letter: the City Council of Barcelona.

On the other hand, little is known about how much public code is already a reality in many public administrations throughout Europe. To change this, we shed light on outstanding examples, to learn from each other and to put positive pressure on decision makers. We started a series of expert interviews in different areas to learn more about their experiences and their motivation, as well as their challenges: Francesca Bria, CTO of Barcelona, elaborates on how Free Software helps build a more democratic, inclusive and sustainable digital society; Elena Muñoz Salinero, who leads the Technology Transfer Centre of the Spanish Government, speaks about best practices between public administrations in the re-use of software solutions, by publishing code under Free Software licenses; and Timo Aarnio, GIS expert at National Land Survey of Finland which coordinates the development of Oskari, explains development practices under public funding within a network with over 38 organisations from both the public and private sector.

As our next step, we are releasing a brochure with more than 20 pages to be used in the time before the European Parliament's election in mid-2019. The brochure is directed towards decision makers in politics and administrations: To help them understand Free Software, to explain the benefits of public code for democracy and IT security, and to point out the first steps to positively change procurement and legislation in favor of Free Software. We will not only use this brochure for the European Parliament's election, but also for distribution to decision-makers inside public institutions to help them understand the importance of Free Software in modernising our digital infrastructure. If you would like to support this and other "Public Money? Public Code!"-activities, sign the open letter and help us with your donation.

However, offering expertise to decision-makers is only one factor. It is just as important to apply pressure by raising awareness inside our society and offering people tools to explain the benefits of public code to each other. For the overall campaign's success, it is essential to empower activists and organisations from all over the world to become a part of this movement. One key to achieving this is to offer material and explanations in a person's mother tongue. Thanks to the priceless help of our outstanding volunteers, we have managed to translate the campaign website into 18 languages. The corresponding popular campaign video is dubbed into six different languages (English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Russian) and offers subtitles in a total of 15 languages. This way, we enable more than 1.5 billion people to learn about "Public Money, Public Code" in their language. 

Get our "Public Money? Public Code!" stickers, card and poster to help you spread the word!

Free Software in the European Union's Copyright Directive

One of the most controversial policy topics in the European Union 2018 was, and still is, the harmonisation of copyright with a new copyright directive. At the time of writing, and after two years of intense debates, the copyright reform is getting close to the final straight. For the well-being of software freedom, one of the most important debates was around Article 13.

Article 13 of the European Union's current copyright directive proposal can seriously hamper collaborative software development, and especially Free Software, by imposing the use of mandatory upload filters and monitoring of their users.  As a result of this proposal, Free Software code-hosting platforms and public code repositories can be arbitrarily removed online. 

After a long and intense debate that we accompanied with our Save Code Share campaign, and after collecting more than 14.000 signatories for our open letter to avoid any negative impact for Free Software, we obtained some limited exclusion for Free Software in the text of the European Parliament's directive. With amendment 143 and 150 of the current copyright reform proposal, we now have at least an exclusion for “open source software developing platforms (..) within the meaning of this Directive”. However, the council proposed this exclusion to only be valid for “non-commercial open source software developing platforms”.

MEP Julia Reda receives more than 11.000 signatures against the dangerous impact of Article 13 from the FSFE's policy coordinator Polina Malaja.

Since the beginning of October the European Parliament and the Council have been in the Trialogue in which we keep raising our voices and demanding for an appropriated exception of commercial as well as non-commercial Free Software in the upcoming Copyright Reform package. Most likely, this debate will continue until the beginning of next year, so if you have not yet done so, back our demand and help keep a healthy environment for Free Software development by signing our open letter or helping us finanicially

The REUSE Initiative

The FSFE aims to support developers by helping them understand the legal implications of reusing a given piece of Free Software, and how to comply with these legal requirements by adding copyright and license information. To achieve this, the FSFE has embarked on our REUSE Initiative, which introduces a set of best practices for license information in ways that not only humans can read, but computers as well, helping to automate licensing. These guidelines have been in place since December 2017, and FSFE is proud to have contributed them under CC-0 licensing terms to the OpenChain Curriculum, a project that helps companies understand best practices supporting their compliance efforts.

In September, the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano published a study that was funded by the FSFE in order for us to better understand the impact of the REUSE Initiative, and how it could be improved upon. Researchers analyzed a set of GitHub projects and the extent to which they respect REUSE guidelines, discovering that compliance is currently lackluster. While this can be attributed to the relatively recent availability of our guidelines, the study also found them overly complex. Accordingly, the next step by the REUSE Initiative to provide support to developers in their efforts to include license information will be to further simplify the guidelines and to provide additional tools for developers, which can include, for example, the so-called “flight rules” developed by IDM-Südtirol. The FSFE is eager to work with partners from industry and research to improve these guidelines in order to see increased compliance in the future, and greatly appreciates all feedback that can help us make this a reality.

The FSFE helped Investigate Europe, an independent journalistic team, to better understand concepts and benefits of Free Software and brought them in contact with experts from our network for their research for the TV documentary "Microsoft-Software: Safe for Europe?".

Electoral campaigns

At the FSFE, we believe that Free Software and Open Standards should be a topic in all elections, be they on a European, national, regional, or local level. To influence the discourse and the agenda pre-election in favour of Free Software, we run electoral campaigns, where we collect and highlight information about the candidates and political parties who participate, and shed light on how they stand on Free Software. This practice can assist voters who care about Free Software and Open Standards with their voting decisions, by allowing them to understand which candidates support our cause towards a free society. After the elections, we will stay in contact with decision-makers and those who are committed to raising their voices for Free Software.

In 2018, the FSFE ran an Ask Your Candidates campaign in the forefront of the Italian elections by sending a set of questions to the participating political parties and publishing their answers afterwards. These questions aimed to clarify the various parties' positions on the use of Free Software in public administrations, a subject already present in Italian jurisprudence by way of Article 68 and Article 69 of the Code of the Digital Administration.

In conclusion, all parties and candidates that answered the questions - Movimento 5 Stelle, Liberi e Uguali, Partito Democratico and Potere al Popolo - have claimed to be in favour of the adoption and the extended use of Free Software and open formats in public administration as well as in public education. In the running legislation period, the FSFE Italy will use this information to observe the government on whether they are delievering on their promises.

I Love Free Software Day 2018

Every year on February 14th, we celebrate "I Love Free Software Day", a day to say thank you to the contributors of the various Free Software you love: developers, translators, designers, testers, or documentation writers, of huge or smaller software projects. Again, all around the globe the message of 'I love Free Software' (#ilovefs) was spread on mass and social media, in communities and between people.

We counted hundreds of messages on social media, as well as private and corporate blogs. Messages full of love declarations, sweetened with photos and artwork dedicated to the countless people out there contributing to Free Software every day, be it in the form of code, translations, documentation, community work, design, or management of projects. Thank you very much for having shared your love once more!

This year, to monitor the online popularity of the day's celebration, our intern Jan Weymeirsch wrote a scraper in GNU R to scrape trending data from social media and published it as a Free Software tool. We used this scraper to compile results about the quantity of toots and tweets using the hashtag #ilovefs and analysed their corresponding metadata as well. We then used this data to create a word-board that showed which Free Software had been the most popular that users were sharing the love with.

Again, there have just been too many  outstanding love declarations by individuals and organisations to be listed here. If you are interested in more details, read this year's report and do not miss #IloveFS-day in 2019!

If you would like to keep up to date throughout the year and read good news about Free Software and the people behind it, subscribe to our newsletter and if you would like to help us spread the love about Free Software, support us financially.

Events we organised and participated in

The FSFE participates in public events to spread the message of Free Software. We are organising more and more successful events on our own, and extending our presence at events organised by others. In 2018 we participated with informative booths and talks at more than 40 events in ten European Countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Sweden).

In July, we combined our annual community meeting with the FSFE's presence at the Libre Software Meeting (aka Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre) in Strasbourg, France. The Libre Software Meeting is a community-driven Free Software meeting in France, and the FSFE had the chance to run its own freedom-related track during the conference. Our community meeting is the annual event to bring together our community across Europe for a weekend to discuss and set the FSFE's agenda for the months to come. 

In April, the FSFE led its annual Free Software Legal and Licensing Workshop (LLW), a 3-day conference in Barcelona, Spain, and a meeting point for world-leading legal experts to remove legal barriers for Free Software adoption, as well as to debate issues and best practices surrounding Free Software licences. In 2018, an estimated 120 legal experts enjoyed an unprecedented amount of parallel tracks and interactive sessions designed to dive into the most contentious topics in the legal world of Free Software.

In January, the FSFE partnered up again with Open Forum Europe for the third edition of the European Free Software Policy Meeting in Brussels, at the heart of European decision-making. The aim of the meeting was to shed light on topics important for Free Software in public policy all over Europe, and to exchange experience for policy action within different regions to help political decision-makers understand how software freedom is related to other freedoms in our society, as well as the economic impact of Free Software. This year, 17 different groups were represented at the European Free Software Policy Meeting, from national Free Software groups to public sector representatives and international organisations.

Booth at the FSFE assembly during 34C3

In the days before New Year's Eve, the FSFE aligned with European Digital Rights (EDRi) and other friends to form a Cluster “Rights & Freedoms” at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress, one of the largest community-driven technology-events in the world. This cluster offered a stage with a full-time programme about digital rights and the FSFE Assembly forms an integral part of this program with our own Free Software track.

If you would like to support our community in participating throughout events in Europe, please consider supporting us financially.

The FSFE Community

In the FSFE's community, we appreciate all the people who help us on different levels with their respective skills on our path towards a society where users are in control of their technology. With this in mind in 2018, some ten thousand people, from Europe and beyond, are supporting the FSFE by spreading our word, signing our open letters about Public Money? Public Code! and Save Code Share, subscribing to our newsletter  and mailing lists, and joining our public discussions about Free Software and FSFE. 

For those who feel inspired by the FSFE and would like to help keep the FSFE running with their official support, we offer a supporter programme, previously known as the Fellowship programme. The supporter programme includes a financial contribution to the FSFE and is crucial to our success. Joining the supporters program is as easy as any online transaction and it is said to bring good karma!

Last but not least, the FSFE is proud to have highly motivated people around Europe, without whose help the FSFE could not operate in the size and outreach that we have. These volunteers work in the core of our activities and are an integral part of our community. Some of them come together in our European Core Team, others coordinate our country or local groups, and countless volunteers run FSFE booths and give talks. They help spreading our promotional material as well as telling friends, families and colleagues about Free Software in Europe. All of them shape the FSFE community. If you would like to become an integral part of our community read about how you can contribute.

Community members at the FSFE booth during LSM / RMLL 2018.

Code of Conduct and the CARE team

Disagreement and possible conflicts are part of any debate in every community. This is not inherently bad; quite the opposite, in the FSFE's community, we understand differences of opinions to be fundamental in the democratic process, and important to shape the directions of a community-driven organisation like the FSFE. But no matter the dispute at stake, all participants should at all times feel at ease to participate and express their opinion, and to do so without fearing any form of attack, reprisal, or harassment.

It has always been an aim for our community to offer a friendly and peaceful environment for every participant at the FSFE's events and in its infrastructure, online and offline. Since last year, we have officially codified this in our Code of Conduct. To further ensure its availability and enforcement, we created a CARE team at the beginning of this year. Whenever you encounter a situation in which our Code of Conduct was breached, do not hesitate to get in touch with our central CARE team.

Staffers and team

In the beginning of the year, Jonas Öberg left his position as the Executive Director, and later also Polina Malaja, our former Policy Analyst and Legal Coordinator. On the other hand, Max Mehl works full-time for FSFE since January, Francesca Indorato started in February as our new office assistant and, in August, Alexander Sander joined our team as the FSFE's new EU public policy programme manager. At the beginning of October, Galina Mancheva and Gabriel Ku Wei Bin joined us as project managers. In total, the FSFE will employ seven full-time staffers and one part-time employee at the end of 2018. In addition, we constantly have two internship positions in parallel that support our work. Throughout the year, our interns have been: Alexandra Busch, George Brooke-Smith, Jan Weymeirsch and Vincent Lequertier

As another addition to our team in 2018, it will be possible to undertake Federal Volunteer Service ("Bundesfreiwilligendienst") at the FSFE. 

The association and its members

Formally, the FSFE is an association with charity status, registered in Germany. The charity is governed by its formal members who are responsible for planning, budgeting, setting the agenda, as well as electing and recalling the Executive Council and the Financial Officer. We have seen a growth of members with the general assembly in 2017 and welcome as new members since then: Amandine Cryptie, Polina Malaja, Ulrike Sliwinski, Jan-Christoph Borchardt, Max Mehl, Erik Albers and Florian Snow. Daniel Pocock resigned as a member. Currently, the FSFE e.V. has 28 members.

Daily operations are run by the Executive Council. This year, our long-time financial officer Reinhard Müller stepped down from his position after more than 10 years, and Patrick Ohnewein has been elected to take over the position. Reinhard continues to be a contributor to the FSFE in our technical backend and frontend, in particular as the lead organiser of the FSFE's biggest annual booth at FOSDEM. 

In 2018, the General Assembly also approved the removal of the "Fellowship seats". In future, access to membership of the FSFE shall be facilitated through the normal membership procedures for active FSFE contributors. The FSFE believes that encouraging active contributors to become GA members, without the downsides of the elections, is a better way to achieve our mission.

Participants at the FSFE's general assembly 2018.

Budgets and expenses

As soon as we have the final numbers for 2018, you will find them on our funds list. On a general note, we are always eager to increase our financial independence with an increase of individual supporters instead of major donors. We expect around one third of our budget in 2018 to be covered by our financial supporter program. Apart from the basic costs to run our infrastructure, we have the highest expenses in Policy, Public Outreach, and Legal. Currently, our biggest campaign is Public Money? Public Code!. The financial part of our Public Outreach covers the production and distribution of PR material, merchandise and the FSFE's presence at various Free Software events.

Promotion material

The FSFE empowers people to promote digital freedom in the real world by offering a large set of promotion material. You can find inspiration about the 100 freedoms of Free Software and why There is no Cloud, just other people's computers, or leaflets to help you explain Free Software, Email encryption, the dangers of DRM and how to Free Your Android. You can also find postcards, posters and stickers of our Public Money? Public Code! and I love Free Software campaign. Order your own material now and help us to spread the word!

In the last 12 months, we sent out 751 promotion orders around the world. This means literally thousands of stickers, leaflets, and posters have been given out to people, who are interested or are even hearing about Free Software for the first time . If you would like to support us in this direct action, consider supporting us financially or consider a donation along with your personal PR material order. The right leaflet at the right time to the right person can be the start of long-lasting change. 

Merchandise

Besides promotion material, the FSFE sells clothes, bags, baby bibs, and magnets as merchandise items. This year, we have newly released a "100 Freedoms of Free Software" shirt, a "There is no Cloud just other people's computers" magnet, and a "Public Money? Public Code!" bag

Looking forward into 2019

2019 will be another exciting year for software freedom and the Free Software Foundation Europe. On the European level, the FSFE will start the year by further explaining to actors, who are involved in the copyright reform, that Free Software can always be commercial as well as non-commercial, thereby removing barriers for Free Software in Europe. Later in the year, and still before the European Parliament's elections, we will get in contact with the candidates running for office and explain to them the benefits of "Public Money? Public Code!". In parallel, we will raise our voices in the debate about the next European Framework Research Programme, called "Horizon Europe", to ensure that releasing publicly financed software under free licenses becomes an integral part of "Horizon Europe", as well as a general condition for publicly financed science inside the European Union.

On the member states level, there will be elections in many European countries, such as in Switzerland, Albania, Netherlands, Greece, and Spain. We want to accompany as many of them as possible with electoral campaigns to make sure political decision makers understand how Free Software contributes to freedom, transparency, self-determination, as well as economic well-being, and that they vote accordingly in future. 

To bring more Free Software to small and medium-sized enterprises and its employees, we are part of FOSS4SMEs. Together with our partners, we are going to create e-learning courses for managers and workers to teach them about the origins and benefits of software freedom. Our goal is that SMEs can make an informed decision and, if SMEs want to use or develop software, that Free Software is their preferred choice. Stay tuned for first releases in 2019!

Preparations are already running for our annual legal conference "Legal Licensing Workshop" (LLW), as well as for our hackathons and annual community meeting. And, besides our own events, we will of course be present again at various Free Software related events, from FOSDEM to the Chaos Communication Camp. 

Last but not least, in 2019 the FSFE will again use public awareness campaigns and political lobbying, provide our expertise, and produce promotion material and explanatory videos. To achieve our goals, we base our work and form our movement with the help of our community and friends, who ensure that our message gets out and is heard in as many diverse parts of our society as possible. 

If you would like to join our cause, contribute or support us financially

On this occasion, we like to send a big thank you to our community: all the contributors, as well as our financial supporters, and donors who made the work of the FSFE possible during the last 12 months.

Thank you!

Your Free Software Foundation Europe

FSFE supporters at the community meeting 2018 in Strasbourg, France.

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Last chance to submit your nominations for the FSF Awards!

Is there someone who you think has advanced the progress of computing freedom, someone you think of as a free software hero? How about a great project that uses free software principles to benefit society? Now is your chance to nominate them for a Free Software Foundation (FSF) Award. The deadline to submit your nominations of individuals or projects for the FSF Awards is Sunday, November 4th, 2018 at 23:59 UTC.

Each year the FSF gives out two awards at the LibrePlanet conference; the Award for the Advancement of Free Software and the Award for Projects of Social Benefit. The winners of the 2018 awards will be announced at LibrePlanet 2019, happening on March 23rd and 24th, 2019, in the Greater Boston Area.

The FSF Award for the Advancement of Free Software is presented annually to an individual who has made a great contribution to the progress and development of free software, through activities that accord with the spirit of free software. Last year's award was accepted by Karen Sandler, the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, as well as a perennial LibrePlanet speaker. Previous winners include Alexandre Oliva, Matthew Garrett, Alan Cox, Larry Lessig, Guido van Rossum, Miguel de Icaza and Larry Wall. Submit your nomination for this individual award at https://my.fsf.org/advancement-of-free-software-award-nomination.

The FSF Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented to the project or team responsible for applying free software, or the ideas of the free software movement, in a project that intentionally and significantly benefits society in other aspects of life. Last year, Public Lab, a community and non-profit organization with the goal of democratizing science to address environmental issues by utilizing free software tools and techniques, received the award. Previous winners include SecureDrop, GNU Health, Tor, the Internet Archive, Creative Commons, and Wikipedia. Submit your nomination for this project/team award at https://my.fsf.org/projects-of-social-benefit-award-nomination.

The free software movement is powered by dedicated individuals and has fostered many incredible projects that are making a difference in both local and global communities. What are you waiting for? Take a few minutes to give props to people and projects that have changed the world.

Thoughts on IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat

There’s been quite a stir in our communities following the announcement that IBM is acquiring Red Hat. As I considered the announcement, one part of the email to employees by Jim Whitehurst posted on the Red Hat blog really struck me:

I appreciate that everyone will experience a range of emotions as a result of this news. Excited, anxious, surprised, fear of the unknown, including new challenges and working relationships - these are all ways I would describe my emotions. What I know is that we will continue to focus on growing our culture as part of a new organization. We will continue to focus on the success of our customers. We will continue to nurture our relationships with partners. Collaboration, transparency, participation, and meritocracy - these values make us Red Hat and they are not changing. In fact, I hope we will help bring this culture across all of IBM.

In addition to the normal anxiety, surprise and fear experienced by employees of companies in the wake of an announcement of a merger, takeover or ordinary reorganization, this transaction will also reverberate through the community outside of the company. Because of this, I think it’s a good time to remind everyone of the ways we can protect ourselves now and in the future from these kinds of uncertainties related to changes in ownership, structure or motivations of corporate players in free and open source software.