The Free Software Foundation Europe turns 20. This means two
decades of empowering users to control technology. Two decades
of helping individuals and organisations to understand how Free
Software contributes to freedom, transparency, and
We would like to take a breath and look back on the road we
have come, to reflect the milestones we have passed, the
successes we have achieved, the stories we have written, and the
moments that brought us together and which we will always
But it is not just about the FSFE itself: for our 20th birthday
we want to give momentum to our pan-European community, the
community that has formed and always will form the shoulders
that our movement relies on. 20 Years FSFE is meant to
be a celebration of everyone who has accompanied us in the past
or still does. Thank you for your place in the
structure of the FSFE today and for setting the foundation
for the next decades of software freedom to come.
On our birthday page we keep publishing related material throughout the
year, from videos, to stickers, to interviews, and more. Bookmark this
page and stay tuned!
message to you from our President Matthias Kirschner
Although technology is ever-changing, our values have been
consistent throughout the last twenty years. The core of our work
is, in a nutshell: educating people on the nature of Free Software,
highlighting its political implications, and simplifying its legal
preconditions. Matthias Kirschner, President of the FSFE since
2015, explains this in his own words in a short video.
Matthias Kirschner fuels his motivation by his deep faith that
small collective actions can have an enormous impact.
20 Years FSFE birthday videos
traveller Cory Doctorow congratulates us from 2041!
It is our honour to receive congratulations and wishes from
prolific Sci-fi author Cory Doctorow! For over a decade, Doctorow
has been vocal in supporting the work of the FSFE. This year, he is
celebrating our 20 year anniversary in his own fascinating way. He
greets us and congratulates us on our 40 year anniversary, talking
to us from 2041!
'Hello FSFE, and congratulations from the year 2041 on your
forty years of fighting for the digital rights of Europeans and of
all people in all places!' Cory Doctorow
20 Years FSFE articles
We contacted people who paved the way of the FSFE since its
beginning, such as long term volunteers and past staffers. In a series
of interviews we discuss the progress of the FSFE as well as
In the final publication about 20 Years FSFE, we want to thank
everyone who has worked for the organisation in an internship
position. We contacted eight former interns and asked them about
their time at the FSFE and their current involvement with Free
In our sixth birthday publication we are interviewing Vincent
Lequertier about crucial aspects of artificial intelligence, such
as its transparency, its connection to Open Science, and questions
of copyright. Vincent also recommends further readings and responds
to 20 Years FSFE.
In our fifth birthday publication we are interviewing Nico Rikken,
and we focus on the FSFE Netherlands country team. Through our
discussion you can also get a glimpse of how FSFE country teams
work. And if there is no FSFE team in your country, this is a great
opportunity for you to see how one forms.
Cancelling of large events, limitations in meetings, and travel
restrictions: none of this stopped the FSFE from advancing software
freedom in 2021. From Router Freedom to new podcast episodes to
co-organising the Legal and Policy devroom at FOSDEM, we keep
empowering people to control technology.
Watch our new video demonstrating how different practices in software lead
to different models of society. Software is intangible, but its results
often are not. The decisions we make about what type of software we use have
real-life effects. There is a type of software that benefits the common
good, and that is Free Software.
The FSFE is all about you, the community. For 20 years we have only been able to
operate thanks to a wide network of people who support us and support
software freedom. Every person who is involved in the FSFE has unique
memories, expertise, and hopes for the future. They are all part of the
story of 20 Years FSFE.
We want to hand over the mic to our community: this autumn we want
to publish another dedicated birthday page whose content is
entirely made from your contributions. This is the time for
you to join in! Would you like to share your thoughts about your
time with the FSFE? You can choose your preferred channel, be it
pictures, videos, quotes, abstract paintings or a self-coded
mini-game -- all contributions are welcome! The deadline is
October 15th. For your inspiration, we offer some ideas:
What made you curious about the FSFE and do you remember the first contact you had with the FSFE?
How did you decide to start volunteering in the FSFE?
What is your favourite activity, campaign or message that the FSFE has done or is still doing?
What is a story that still makes you laugh or smile when you remember it?
What do you wish for the FSFE for the next 20 years?
Answer any number of questions you like or follow your own train of
thought and send it to us at contact (at) fsfe (dot) org including a
picture of yourself. We are looking forward to hearing from you!
Share your FSFE
pictures from the past
So many things have happened in the last 20 years! Countless hours
were spent by members of our community to run booths, give talks,
hold workshops, organise meetings, do lobbying, and more.
Unfortunately we lack a lot of visuals from these activities! We would
love to fill up our archive with all the great things you were doing in
support of our cause!
So if you have a video, a picture, or anything else that represents
your time with the FSFE and that you are willing to share, please send it
to contact (at) fsfe (dot) org together with a short description of what there is to
see on the visual and a license we can use to publish it.
Create a birthday video
Would you like to send us your personal birthday wishes and show your
affiliation with the FSFE? Take a camera and record a one or two minute
video of you sending your birthday wishes, maybe together with some
commemorations of your time with the FSFE. Please send your
video to contact (at) fsfe (dot) org together with a license we can use
to publish it and it possibly might end up here.
Join the hashtag
If you enjoy social media, use #FSFE20 to share your wishes or
comment on our anniversary interviews. This way we can find
each other's wishes and memories and share them along.
Get our new sticker: "FSFE since 2001"
For our birthday celebrations we have a brand new sticker "FSFE since 2001". Order
some for yourself and show others how long we have been working
together for software freedom.
Highlights from the last 20 years
In 2021, the FSFE looks back on a successful history with
major successes in the public, legal, and policy fields. For example
in 2005, when our intense campaigning
and collaboration with other organisations persuaded the European
Parliament to vote
against Software Patents. Or two years later, when the European
Court of Justice aligned with the FSFE, requiring
Microsoft to publish interoperability information. During that
time, we saw that it was needed to help Free Software developers by
clarifying the legal aspects of their work, such as the enforcement
in case of license violations. This led to the FSFE starting to
work with Free Software legal advocates and practitioners for legal
initiatives in 2006.
Meanwhile, the FSFE maintains the world's
largest professional network on legal issues related to Free
Software. The FSFE's legal experts on this network help
with concrete licensing consultancy. To this end in 2017 we also
created the highly successful REUSE initiative to provide a
set of recommendations that make licensing Free Software projects
easier for developers. REUSE has been adopted by well known
projects such as the German Corona Warn App and the KDE.
Since its founding, the FSFE has been committed to running public
campaigns and helping people to understand the benefits of Free
Software. As early as 2012, we helped users to overcome software
restrictions in their phones with the launch of our 'Free Your
Android' campaign. Two years earlier we introduced "I
love Free Software day" which is celebrated around the
globe every year on 14 February. In 2017, we launched the
extraordinarily successful 'Public Money? Public Code!'
campaign, convincing several public administrations to change
their IT strategy. The accompanying open letter has been signed
by over 200 civil society organisations, 31.000 individuals, and
several public administrations like the city of Barcelona and the
Swedish JobTech Development center.
Of course, all these accomplishments can only give a glimpse of the
impact of the FSFE and our activities in the last 20 years. All
these successes are the result of our large community that we can
Help us get to the next 20 years
In the FSFE, your contribution will always be valuable to keep
us going. There are many ways you can engage depending on your
skills and interests. For example, you can help us to improve
our website, design information material, or translate our
publications to your mother tongue. Our community welcomes new
Support us financially
will allow us to continue our charitable work for freedom in the
information society and stay independent for the years to come.