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Our Work

The Free Software Foundation Europe helps individuals and organisations understand how Free Software contributes to freedom, transparency and self-determination. We enhance users' rights by abolishing barriers to Free Software adoption, encourage people to use and develop Free Software and provide resources to enable everyone to further promote Free Software in Europe.

Imagine a world where pupils learn about the philosophy of Free Software and no one is forced to use non-free software. A world where public bodies develop Free Software for the public and decision-makers understand the long-term societal achievements by building public infrastructures on Free Software.

Even if these goals still seem a long way off, we are already taking great steps forward today. Democratic societies are dynamic societies. Regularly, we see changes of public demands, policies and legal frameworks happening. Many of these changes create opportunities and chances to act upon and to help the public moving towards a free society. To ensure that the FSFE is able to make the best out of these opportunities, we concentrate our daily work on three main pillars: public awareness, policy advocacy and legal support.

This page is for you to read about the rationales behind our work. If you are interested in concrete projects and are looking more deeply for details, you will find them on our activities overview. Or look at our contribute page if you would like to get more deeply involved.

Public Awareness

Software is deeply involved in all aspects of our lives. It is important that people and organisations know about software freedom and its benefits for our society so they can join our cause. The more people who understand Free Software, the stronger our voice becomes and the more we will accomplish for software freedom. That is why a main focus of the FSFE's work revolves around informing the public.

Our website explains the basics of Free Software and spreads up-to-date news about our work and the Free Software ecosystem. We also share this news on our social media channels for everyone to follow and publish a monthly Newsletter with a summary of all news of the last 4 weeks. For those who prefer the spoken word, we publish a bi-monthly podcast in addition to discussing Free-Software-related topics in-depth with experts from our community.

Also important in our public awareness activities are public campaigns. Many of these campaigns are designed around a special topic regarding Free Software or to help people to align with a certain demand covering our work for Free Software. But we also have timeless campaigns on the general well-being of Free Software, for example our “I love Free Software” day campaign, a campaign to remind all of us to say thank you to all the Free Software out there, at least once a year. You can find many more of our awareness campaigns on our activities overview.

From top left to bottom right: Lucas Lasota speaking at the FSFE Community Meeting 2019 (CC-BY 2.0 NOI Techpark); Bonnie Mehring and Erik Albers interviewed at the 36C3; Hanno Boeck speaks at 34C3; FSFE village team at SHA Camp.

We regularly create and organise information booths in many European countries. These are set up by our community members. You can spot those booths at different events, from local street festivals to international gatherings. Together with talks and workshops given by volunteers and staffers, such information booths spread the word of software freedom face-to-face. Many of our public talks are recorded and we publish them for everyone to see on our video channels.

If you would like to get active yourself, we offer you high quality information material to help with your personal public awareness activities. You can order the material for no cost inside Europe. Also we have high quality merchandise material for you to wear and show your support for Free Software.

All Awareness activities

Policy Advocacy

Political decisions and directions have big impact on Free Software, its ecosystems and its communities. The FSFE has long-time experience in working with policy-makers and public bodies in Europe, from local administrations to high-level decision makers. We are always aiming at enhancing the rights of Free Software users and developers and abolishing barriers to Free Software adoption.

Professional representation of interests means being in the right place at the right time with the right approach. Politics is a day-to-day business but decisions take time - sometimes it takes years to come to a compromise. It needs a lot of explaining, networking, back and forth, adaptation to situations, finding majorities or in two words: professional lobbying. The FSFE undertakes this task for the benefit of software freedom and putting people in control of technology. We are in regular contact with relevant stakeholders, analyse decision making processes in different legal environments and based on this choose the best strategies to be successful with our demands.

Within our policy advocacy, the FSFE takes part in consultations, parliamentarian hearings and public discussions. We are reaching out to decision makers with concrete proposals and propose policies in favor of user's freedom. One key to success is the backing of our community for whom we offer participatory activities to get involved in political processes or to campaign and advocate together with us for a Europe relying on Free Software. One example of such a campaign is our “Public Money? Public Code!” campaign, a timeless campaign targeting decision makers to change public funding practices: We want legislation requiring that publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made publicly available under a Free Software licence. We offer material and expertise and ask our community to help spread the word. Also we report about our activities on our website and social media channels, provide in-depth analysis on different topics and issues and help others to understand what we are doing and why.

The FSFE is available as an independent expert for other communities, partners and interested bodies to explain the advantages and political needs of Free Software. Often we are partnering with like-minded organisations to back our demands by setting up ad-hoc alliances or campaigning together with friends. Throughout the year, the FSFE offers forums to discuss current activities and developments regarding software freedom in order for everyone interested to have a strong voice together in debates and to be successful in lobbying for Free Software.

To further deepen existing alliances and to facilitate the creation of new ones, as well as to publicly offer our expertise, we also host our own policy events. For example we regularly invite Free Software groups around Europe to come together and exchange knowledge about the current state of Free Software in Europe and to create resilient networks. Or we invite decision makers to our own events and discuss important aspects of software freedom and help them to understand the impact of reusing software.

Often campaigns are designed to help people to align with a certain demand covering our work for Free Software.

All Policy activities

Free licenses and their proper application can be complex but are indispensable for Free Software. At the Free Software Foundation Europe, we educate people on these legal issues and help developers, companies and political entities to develop, use and reuse Free Software in a manner that is compliant with existing legal frameworks.

The FSFE maintains the world's largest network on legal issues related to Free Software. Participants come from a variety of legal backgrounds, including practicing lawyers, corporate in-house counsel and software engineers with legal skills. The provision of a neutral discussion platform enables the analysis and development of strategies and solutions for concrete legal questions. By sharing knowledge among Network members, the Legal Network contributes to growing legal expertise regarding Free Software. Once a year, the FSFE hosts a Free Software Legal and Licensing Workshop, which gives world-leading legal experts the opportunity to personally discuss issues and best practices related to Free Software licensing.

Polina Malaja, FSFE GA Member, speaking at the Legal and Licensing Workshop 2018

To encourage accuracy and the adoption of best practices in Free Software licensing, the FSFE's legal experts help with concrete licensing consultancy. We provide guidance for Free Software projects, both on an individual level and on a larger scale with initiatives from organisations that include the European Commission. Our aim is to ensure that everyone who works with developing Free Software understands the best practices for communicating components, licenses and copyrights associated with software packages, in order for them to comply with all legal necessities fulfilling software freedom.

The FSFE's legal work with licensing is also supported greatly by REUSE, an initiative started by the FSFE to provide a set of recommendations that make licensing Free Software projects easier for developers. The REUSE recommendations make it easy for developers to declare the licenses under which their Free Software works are released and also to enable computers to easily understand how these software projects are licensed. REUSE is an initiative to promote a software ecosystem where Free Software can be easily shared and reused in a legally sound manner.

All Legal activities