Why do we exist?
Author: Georg C.F. Greve on: 2001-06-23
The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) was founded in 2001 as the sister organisation of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) in the USA to take care of all aspects of Free Software in Europe.
Several factors made this step necessary.
First of all, Free Software has ceased being an American phenomenon, Europe has one of the strongest communities of Free Software developers and many considerable projects of the recent past have their roots here.
Secondly, the dominating perception of software is as a purely economic property, which is why it is being treated this way by politics and press.
But software already transcends daily life in an increasing manner and becomes a deciding factor. Just as other developments in the past of mankind, software develops from being an economic to a cultural property with increasing presence in everyday life.
Other than developments that seem to be comparable at first glance like printing press, car or telephone, software is purely virtual. It can not only be reproduced without loss, this reproduction also serves its evolution.
This makes software have properties that are very different from those of other phenomenons in history; the invention of software probably has the biggest similarities with the discovery of language, writing or science.
It is essential for the future of mankind that software as a cultural property will remain accessible for everyone and is preserved in libraries like other knowledge.
In order to achieve this, a new way of thinking has to be established with the decision-makers of the population, the politicians.
To inspire this new way of thinking is a crucial task for the FSF Europe.
The third objective is securing Free Software.
The GNU General Public License and GNU Lesser General Public License of the Free Software Foundation are the most-often licenses used for Free Software worldwide.
Therefore it is incumbent on the FSF and FSFE to ensure the legal safety of the largest part of Free Software.
Fourthly the long-term success is based upon the practical realization of Free Software.
Because of this, the FSFE and the FSF work together on the organisational aspects of the GNU Project, assist and maintain the development of Free Software and support companies and people willing to switch to Free Software.
And finally software contains an immense commercial potential. In order to permanently build the awareness for Free Software, it is necessary to also involve the economy.
This means perspectives need to be opened for companies to build their business on or around Free Software.
Offering these perspectives and counseling in their application is also a task for the FSFE.
Further considerations on the topic of Free Software can be found at: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/philosophy.html