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FSFE Newsletter - May 2012

54 DFD events and FSFE handcuffed EU Commissioner

As you can read and see in this years report, Document Freedom Day 2012 was celebrated with 54 events in 23 countries and in 19 world languages. It was the biggest DFD in history with over 26 talks, over 6 awards for Open Standards, lots of other events and the press coverage counted almost one hundred articles. FSFE coordinated between all the different events, awarded several organisation, and in Germany mailed over 370 and called over 170 politicians about Open Standards. Several of these politicians, from a range of political parties, did activities for DFD. FSFE also send out 100 information packages including handcuffs to suggested people including several politicians, CEOs, and the Pope. EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes used our handcuffs in a public speech, which resulted in a lot of additional press coverage including the front page of the Guardian Online. FSFE is eager to hear more reports of what recipients of the package did with the handcuffs.

May 4th: Day against DRM. Is it their "good right" to restrict us?

Last week your editor gave an interview about Digital Restriction Management (DRM) (German). It was about the questions of what DRM is, why companies introduce DRM, why you have to treat your customer as an enemy to make DRM work, and which other possibilities exist. When discussing Free Software, DRM, Antifeatures and other topics you might often hear from intelligent critical people that it is "the good right" of producers to control their products. Why do so many people think so? Would they also accept those restrictions in "the analogue world"? Is it the good right of a publisher to prohibit that you can read a book out loud, lend it friends, or sell it? Several times your editor abused books: last week he used three of them to fix his broken sofa. Would it be acceptable that the publisher or the author can forbid such use cases? Do more people accept such restrictions with software and data, and if so, why? Has the industry with the term "Digital Rights Management" successfully implied that they have this right, and a lot of people accept this?

The 4th of May is the Day against DRM. While DRM has largely been defeated in music, it is a growing problem in the area of ebooks. So it is good news that due to pressure from their readers, Tor/Forge will drop DRM from ebooks. Discuss the topic with your friends or colleagues, e.g. send them Richard Stallman's short story "The Right to Read", and tell us your experience on our public discussion lists or send it directly to your editor.

Free Software topic in the French Presidential elections

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that 15 percent of the State's IT budget is spent on Free Software programming, support, and maintenance. In future this budget will increase by 30 percent per year. He said this policy is "strategic for the development of the French IT sector". His challenger François Hollande even said this policy has to be intensified.

Besides that, the French Free Software advocacy group April asked all of the candidates in the French presidential elections about their positions on Free Software, software patents, DRM and more.

It is important to raise awareness for Free Software with your politicians, and sending them questions is a good start. FSFE is gathering all such effort in our "Ask Your Candidate" campaign. FSFE would like to thank April for their good work in France, and encourages other Free Software supporters in Europe to get in contact with their politicians. If you have questions how to start such activities in your country, region, or municipality, please get in contact with us. By next month you will also have the political parties' replies to the questions from FSFE for two federal state elections in Germany.

Vendor lock-in costing Helsinki 3.4 million Euros per year?

A report on the City of Helsinki's pilot project for the use of OpenOffice in the public administrations leaves the public with more questions than answers. The city trialled the Free Software productivity suite on the laptops of council members for ten months in 2011. The suite enjoyed high approval rates among its users. When the pilot was finished, the City produced a report stating that the costs of migrating the entire administration to OpenOffice would be very high. Read more about it in the press release and if you are interested in details of the City of Helsinki's OpenOffice pilot project, and in lessons that may be drawn from this project, we have published an analysis of the report.

Something completely different

Get Active: FRAND is FRAUD - Participate in UK consultation

Busy times in the UK. Besides the consultation on education (see above) the UK government is holding another one until the 4th of June about what sort of patent licenses an Open Standard should require. FSFE and our sister organisation the FSF published a joint statement on the UK Open Standard consultation, explaining why FRAND conditions for Open Standards discriminate against Free Software (regular readers might realise this is an ongoing debate), and recommending the UK government to abolish software patents to prevent damage to the UK's economy. We also informed UK Free Software businesses, organisations, and Fellows about the consultation, prepared draft answers to some of the questions in the survey, held a Summit Meeting of Open Standard experts, and also published a joint statement together with other Open Standard groups.

There is a website explaining how to participate in the consultation. Please do so to support the requirement for royalty-free licenses for Open Standards.

Thanks to all the Fellows and donors who enable our work,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE

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