For eight years now, the Free Software Foundation Europe has been working tirelessly for basic rights and freedoms in an increasingly software-driven society. The 11th of March 2009 sees another major milestone passed, with its 2^3 (eighth) birthday being celebrated by its friends, Fellows and associates.
"The world of Free Software has developed dramatically since FSFE was founded, and FSFE was a core part of that change," Greve observes. "Free Software has won its first antitrust action. We helped to bring issues of interoperability and standardisation to the forefront of the debate, with OOXML being the culmination of this debate. As a consequence, more governments and public institutions have begun to ask questions about the sovereignty of their software and data."
In the fast-moving Free Software world, FSFE has often found itself in at the forefront of new developments. While public campaigns like the annual Document Freedom Day and the recently launched pdfreaders.org campaign have been the most visible aspects of FSFE's work, many other activities have received less publicity because of their inherent behind-the-scenes nature.
Over the course of the last eight years, FSFE has been working intensively at the United Nations, has promoted Free Software interests at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), contributed to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), taken part in discussions at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and taught project managers of the World Bank about Free Software. FSFE has worked with the European Commission not just as part of its antitrust work, but also through research and development funding under the framework programmes, been directly involved in these projects, and has assisted the Commission by offering input into policy-setting initiatives.
Work in international policy-setting fora always involves a conflict between getting the word out and affording the confidentiality necessary to the process involved. Proclaiming victory publicly can often mean bringing about defeat, and a carefully maintained reputation is the key to being able to convey the right message, in the right place, at the right time.
From assisting in legal matters through its Freedom Task Force (FTF) and overseeing the development of Internet regulation, to ensuring interoperability and keeping software patents at bay, FSFE has played an vital role in shaping the future environment for Free Software.
In 2005, FSFE initiated its community programme, the Fellowship, which besides being a major source of funding for FSFE has grown to be a highly successful independent network in its own right, with projects, meetings and celebrations taking place in several countries. Matthias Kirschner, Fellowship Coordinator for FSFE, explains that the Fellowship has chosen to mark the 2^3 birthday event with a special edition of the Fellowship Interview series, in which Georg Greve explains the history behind FSFE and how he came to found it. The interview is available at http://fellowship.fsfe.org/interviews/greve/.
The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and involved in many global activities. Access to software determines participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation in the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study, modify and copy. Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these issues, securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving people Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are central issues of the FSFE.
You will find further information about the work of the FSFE at http://fsfeurope.org