Buletin

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

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.

Regards,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE

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