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FSFE Newsletter - February 2011
Drop a container to free web videos
Videos on the internet often prove to be literal nuisance to Free Software users. Several websites required the non-free flash video plugin to view videos. Perhaps also your friends were wondering why you are not able to watch youtube videos within your web browser, and thought you are a freak when you started downloading videos with youtube-dl. With gnash and other programs which are able to play flash video directly the situation improved. But flash is still a pain annoying both for Free Software users and developers.
Developing HTML5 turned out to be a chance to purge this problem. It enables the user to play audio and video directly in your web browser. But there was disagreement which video container format should be used: H.264, WebM or Ogg Theora? MPEG LA organisation requires developers who implement H.264 to agree to a patent license which is incompatible with Free Software. So we might have ended up depending on non-free software again to watch web videos.
But now Google announced to suspend support for patent-encumbered codec H.264 and support free codecs only instead. Being the biggest provider of web videos Google's decision is a huge step to dispose of non-free video software. Our sister organisation FSF issued a press release on this topic and I (Matthias) was interviewed by Dradio Wissen about it (in German).
Now time has come to help adopt WebM as free video format: get in contact with website operators and ask them to distribute videos in the WebM format to get rid of H.264.
New clothes for FSFE
For many people their first contact with FSFE is via website. After months of work by FSFE's Web Team a new website design has been launched including a fresh look, improved infrastructure, and new features. Here is a list of our new features:
- iCal feed of FSFE events and activities
- Option to subscribe to FSFE newsletters in multiple languages
- Tagging of news and events, allowing dynamic generation of information feeds for specific topics (useful for country pages, and topic homepages such as "EU News"); documentation added
- Improved country teams contact page, including more information and links to team member profiles
- Improved people page with avatars of team members
- New meta-data storage and display system for published articles which consistently presents important article information
Something completely different
- We have written to German competition authorities in order to share our concern about the sale of Novell's patents to a consortium called CPTN made up of Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC. Read the details in our press release and Karsten's blog article.
- Fellowship Election for GA seat: In February Fellows may choose their candidate for the Fellowship seat in FSFE's General Assembly. Check out the candidates and choose your candidate. If you are not a Fellow yet join now, and you can pick your choice, too.
- Fellowship interview: Political veteran Anne Østergaard discusses new ways to influence European legislation, the scale of Free Software support in developing countries, and the importance of local culture in community campaigning.
- There is a lot of good things to read. Patents are definetely not something you'll enjoy. If this warning doesn't keep you from reading them, Matija wrote a blog article "Reading patents made easier?".
- Do you want some fries together with FSFE? Like every year we will have a strong booth presence at FOSDEM with several volunteers, project coordinators, our president and vice-president. We are looking forward to having discussions at our booth after Karsten's and my presentation as well as while eating fries, or having a beer with you.
- Links on Free Software and Law; FTF team member Matija started publishing legal news on Free Software: Free Software & law related links (part 2).
- You can do a lot of (nice ;) ) things with handcuffs: Richard wrote about practical advantages of not being handcuffed in your daily life.
Get active - Join the Web Team
- Sign up to the Web Team's mailing-list to read discussion about current and future changes, and submit your own queries and comments
- Submit bugs with the website to the Web issue tracker (you can create a new account, and remember your usename will end in -guest)
- Ask questions in real time in the Web Team's IRC channel: #fsfe-web on freenode