Two year executive summary

period 2003-2005

Report for the 2005 general assembly

Vienna, Austria, 7th May 2005

Four years after its official start in March 10th, 2001 and the finalisation of its founding process in April 24th, 2001, the general assembly on 7 May 2005 in Vienna, Austria marks the end of another electorial period for the Free Software Foundation Europe Extended Executive Committee.

The organisation itself has seen two busy years and has grown in size, activities and impact. Instead of trying to achieve or claim completeness, this report will briefly summarize some of FSFE's milestones of the past two years.

European Union: Microsoft Antitrust Investigation

Following up on the work it began during its first two years, FSFE in cooperation with the Samba Team were delivering crucial expertise in the antitrust investigation of the European Union against Microsoft for extending its desktop monopoly into the server market. After Microsoft filed suit at the European Court of First Instance against the fine and obligations to make available its protocol specifications, FSFE entered [1] the court case as third party, also representing the Samba Team. Together, FSFE and Samba, represented in court by Carlo Piana of FSFE's Italian team, were able to help convince [2] the court to not suspend the EU decision. More information available online. [3]

 [1] [2] [3] 

UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

The first phase of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) took place December 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland. [4] FSFE participated in the complete series of conferences leading up to this event from the intersessional meeting in Paris to the last PrepComs in Geneva. FSFE's president, Georg Greve, participated in the German governmental delegation on behalf of the German Civil Society coordination circle, co-coordinated the Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks (PCT) Working Group [5] and helped establish and coordinate the European Caucus of Civil Society. [6]

During the summit itself, FSFE organised the "Free Software, Free Society" side event where Richard Stallman, Lawrence Lessig and others talked about the issues of freedom in a digital society. Working with other Civil Society and governmental representatives, Free Software Foundation Europe was able get some significant changes into the final documents. [8]

 [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] 

Towards a "World Intellectual Wealth Organisation"

After speaking at a course of WIPO and the University of Torino held at the International Training Center (ITC) of the International Labor Organisation (ILO) in Torino, Italy, FSFE decided to become observer of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). [9] WIPO is one of the 16 specialised UN organisations and it is administrating 23 international treates dealing with different aspects of limited monopolies on knowledge. As such, it has a central position in the global governance and power structure in relation to Copyrights, Patents and Trademarks, in particular.

Together with other groups, organisations and governments, FSFE is working towards turning WIPO into an organisation oriented at increasing the intellectual wealth of all of humankind. [10]

A very important step in this direction was taken at the Inter-sessional, Inter-governmental Meeting (IIM) for the establishment of a development agenda for WIPO and the Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development related to Intellectual Property (PCIPD) at which FSFE had its first official appearances within WIPO. [11][12]

 [9] [10] [11] [12] 

Press Work

One of the most seminal tasks for Free Software is creating awareness and informing people about issues of digital freedom. While Free Software is becoming increasingly important in the IT industry, many people do not yet understand it. Outside of the IT industry, most people will not even have heard of it.

Changing this requires getting the issues and topics covered in mainstream media in a language that the readers, viewers and listeners can relate to. For that reason, Joachim Jakobs took responsibility of the media relations for FSFE in 2004, allowing for a much higher presence of software freedom in the "traditional" media.

Some media in which FSFE was covered within the past years are: ARD, Bloomberg, Computerzeitung, DIE ZEIT, Deutschlandfunk, FAZ, Financial Times Deutschland, Financial Times, FR, Handelsblatt, International Herald Tribune, Le Figaro, Mediemagasinet(Sveriges Television), ORF m@trix, ORF Mittagsjournal, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Wall Street Journal, arte tv.

International Free Software Cooperation

FSFE did not only increase its activities towards the part of the world that had never heard of Free Software before, it also increased and strengthened its activities inside the Free Software community.

In particular, FSFE's president Georg Greve served as interim board member for the X.Org [13] foundation during its establishment, trying to help in organisationally, legally and politically. He also worked with the group of people planning and coordinating the establishment of Free Software Foundation Latin America [14] to help strengthen the global FSF Network.

 [13] [14] 

Associates & Participants

This of course only became possible because FSFE itself grew considerably during the past two years. Besides Joachim Jakobs, who is handling media relations on a full-time basis, FSFE took on Stefano Maffulli, FSFE's Italian Coordinator, on a part-time basis. A recent addition to the team was Ciaran O'Riordan, who is currently working full-time for FSFE in Brussels on European Union issues, such as software patents.

Another important addition were the interns: Matthias Kirschner, who was with the FSFE for eight months, and Karsten Gerloff, who is currently in his third month working for FSFE. Both participated fully in the activities of FSFE: While Matthias Kirschner was deeply involved in the inception, planning and implementation of the Fellowship, [15] Karsten Gerloff largely set up the Hamburg Office of FSFE and participated in the WIPO conferences, which he helped document and make accessible in his blog. [16]

Also, the network of associate organisations [17] has grown again within the past two years to

  AFFS, UK                       [18]  ANSOL, Portugal                [19]  ASSOLI, Italy                  [20]  FFII, Germany                  [21]  FFIS, Germany                  [22]  FFS, Austria                   [23]  FSIJ, Japan                    [24]  Fundacion Via Libre, Argentina [25]  IFSO, Ireland                  [26]  OFSET, France                  [27]  Vrijschrift, Netherlands       [28]  Wilhelmtux, Switzerland        [29] 

of which IFSO was the latest addition. These associate organisations often play a critical role in the establishment and coordination of the national teams of FSFE.

 [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] 


After several months of preparation, the FSFE finally released its Fellowship [30] campaign in late February 2005. The Fellowship is a community for digital freedom -- it is a way of raising your flag to show that you care about these issues and the easiest way of contributing to the ongoing work of FSFE both politically and financially to protect your freedom.

All Fellows of FSFE get a login on the Fellowship portal, which is slowly evolving into a platform of communication, coordination and collaboration.

Each Fellow also gets a personalised OpenPGP SmartCard with the possibility to have the keys signed by the Free Software Foundation Europe. This gives all Fellows a state of the art crypto token that allows Fellows to protect their own privacy and data as well as spread general awareness for these issues.

Thanks to the success of the Fellowship, FSFE was able have Ciaran O'Riordan working full time in Brussels and further increase its activities -- sign up and protect your freedom! [31]

 [30] [31] 

Ongoing activities

There were numerous other activities FSFE has been working on during the past couple of years, from teaching at World Bank courses to working with local activists in various activities. In order to allow people to better follow the many things that are often happening in parallel, FSFE also established a monthly newsletter, which is the easiest way of remaining informed about FSFE's activities. [32]



Being an educational effort as well as a political organisation, one of the permanent tasks for all people in FSFE is being present at trade shows and conferences, create and distribute information material, talk to people in various places and fora to inform them about Free Software and issues of freedom in the digital age.

These are some of the places and events where FSFE did this work

  ALANTEJO Party 2004, Evora, Portugal  Banco Central do Brazil, Brasilia, Brazil  BerLINux, Berlin, Germany  Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey  Chamber of Commerce, Vienna, Austria  CONISLI, Sao Paulo, Brazil  Computerworld Conference, Zurich, Switzerland  DRM and alternatives, Berlin, Germany  European Social Forum (ESF), London, UK  FOSDEM, Brussels, Belgium  Florence World Vision, Forence, Italy  Free Software Forum, Porto Alegre, Brazil  Free Software Seminar, Västerås, Sweden  Free Software Summer Event, Caceres, Spain  Free Software Workshop, Damascus, Syria  Free Software in a Free Society, Sarajevo, Bosnia  GNU/Linux Day in Bozen,   GNU/Linux Infoday, European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium  GNU/Linux World Expo, Milan, Italy  GNU/LinuxTag, Karlsruhe, Germany  Handelsblatt Conference, Berlin, Germany  Instituto Bruno Leoni, Milan, Italy  KDE Community World Summit, Ludwigsburg, Germany  KIPA Free Software Conference, Seoul, South Korea  LOTS Event, Berne, Switzerland  LiMux Project Inauguration, Munich, Germany  Linux World Expo & Conference Birmingham, UK  Linux World Expo, Frankfurt, Germany  LinuxForum, Copenhagen, Denmark  Linuxwochen, Eisenstadt, Austria  Linuxwochen, Linz, Austria  Linuxwochen, Wien, Austria  Ministry of Communication, Brasilia, Brazil  National Congress, Montevideo, Uruguay  National Technical University of Athens, Greece  Nordic University Computer Club Conference, Uppsala, Sweden  Red Hat World Tour, Munich, Germany  Senate of Buenos Aires, La Plata, Argentina  South Tyrol Free Software Conference, Bozen, Italy  Summit of Italian Free Software Organizations, Avellino, Italy  UN World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva, Switzerland  UNCTAD expert meeting on Free Software, Geneva, Switzerland  USUARIA conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina  Universita Bocconi, Milano, Italy  University of Cordoba, Cordoba, Argentina  University of Dublin, Dublin, Ireland  University of Torino & UN WIPO, ITC-ILO, Torino, Italy  WIPO IIM, Geneva, Switzerland  WIPO PCIPD, Geneva, Switzerland  Week of Digital Freedom, Rome, Italy  Week of freedom road tour, Italy  Wizards of OS, Berlin, Germany  World Bank course at ITC-ILO, Torino, Italy  World Social Forum (WSF), Porto Alegre, Brazil 


FSFE is now growing out of the startup phase and find itself involved in many activities that are going to require attention for some time in the future -- like software patents, the case of Microsoft against the European Commission or the United Nations activities, such as a reform of WIPO.

Having grown up now in many aspects, FSFE will need to consolidate its activities to make sure they will be sustainable for the next decade to come. At the same time, FSFE will need to increase its activities throughout Europe on the national and European Union level.

Finding a balance between these two and finding more people who are willing to do and/or support this work will be a necessity in order to make this happen.