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FSFE Newsletter - August 2011
Inside stories by a critical thinker
"If people do not understand why their computing is related to their freedom, it’s because nobody explained them properly" (Bernhard Reiter)
Bernhard Reiter is one of FSFE's founders and architect of the original German team. He participated in setting up three important Free Software organisations: FreeGIS.org, FFII, and FossGIS. Besides that, he is founder and Executive Director of Intevation GmbH, a company with exclusively Free Software products and services since 1999.
Interesting stories about setting up FSFE, challenges for Free Software, and more are covered in this month's Fellowship interview.
Become a Critical Thinker: Get Rid of "Intellectual Property"
A lot of people talk about "intellectual property". When using this term, they usually mix different things like copyright, patents, trademarks, also right to a name, utility patents, business models, or even geographical indications. If you want to think critically and clearly about challenges in the digital age, you should separate those different issues.
If you really need a term to cover all that, you should use one which is not that much biased. There are some suggestions in the articles mentioned below, like the term "Limited Intellectual Monopolies".
But in 90% cases there is actually only one monopoly concerned. Discussions will be much more productive if everybody knows what you are talking about. So, if someone says "we need more protection of "intellectual property", ask them what that means, perhaps it means they want to have software patents. If someone says "we need to limit the scope of "intellectual property", you should ask if they want to restrain copyright, patents or even abolish trademarks.
You can read more about this in Richard Stallman's article "Did You Say 'Intellectual Property'? It's a Seductive Mirage", Georg Greve's "Fighting intellectual poverty (Who owns and controls the information societies?)", and your editor's interview with Dradio Wissen (in German).
Support FSFE in critical thinking
For FSFE it is important that all of you support us. This way our work does not depend on single donors, and we can continue to think and communicate critical to promote software freedom.
It is now possible to donate us monthly and yearly by credit card and in Germany also by direct debit. Beside that, in the Netherlands donations to FSFE can now be deducted from income tax (before it was only possible in Germany and Switzerland). If we get more than 20 new donors, your editor promises that he will not write the word "critical" in the next newsletter.
Something completely different
- Richard Stallman wrote an article "Resist the Temptations of the Cloud!" (German version) in the German Magazine "Spiegel".
- PDFreaders.org. It is boring to follow up bugs, but it does not take a lot of time and has a good effect. In Italy volunteers again managed to close 13 bugs last month. Your editor gave two talks in Brazil about the PDFreaders campaign to motivate people to fix bugs in Latin America, and our UK coordinator Sam Tuke is organising a PDFreaders bug hunt in Manchester. If you live around, join other Free Software advocates on Saturday, August 13, between 15.00-17.30 at MadLab hackerspace to find and remove UK Government adverts for non-Free PDF Readers. Cake and Pizza provided!
- New German Free Software Business Association: Lisog (124 members) and LIVE Linux-Verband (103 members) now merged into the Open Source Business Alliance (OSBA) (German).
- FSFE will take part at the Desktop Summit, a joint conference organised by the GNOME and KDE communities in Berlin, Germany, 6 - 12 August 2011 at the Humboldt University. Our president Karsten Gerloff will give a talk on "Free desktops for Europe's public sector" and Bernhard Reiter will talk about "Daily Melee: paid people within Free Software initiatives - How they tick, how to keep them and the art of behaving if you are one". (All events are available on our event page and in the Fellowship calendar.
- From the planet aggregation:
- CERN launched its Open Hardware License 1.1 and Open Hardware Repository. IBM promised to give its Lotus Symphony source code to the Apache Foundation, and W3C wants to invalidate Apple's Widget software patents. Read the legal news from 27.6.-3.7. 4.7.-10.7., and 11.7.-18.7..
- Brian Gough has announced the GNU Hackers meeting which will take place on 25. August – 28. August in Paris. There are about 45 GNU maintainers and contributors registered so far and speakers include Jim Meyering, Stefano Zacchiroli, and Jim Blandy.
- Why are students developing Free Software for the public sector? Read in Guido Arnold's weblog how students get involved in Free Software.
Get active: Read and distribute "crime story"
"When patents attack" is a good story from investigative journalists on software patents, which reads like a crime story. Your editor recommends you to read it so you have good arguments in future. If you like it, distribute the article among your colleagues and friends.