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Legal Support Activities

As a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, Free Software Foundation Europe works to create general understanding and support for Free Software and Open Standards. The following activities are concrete actions that we take in the areas of public awareness, policy advocacy and legal support.

Since its foundation in 2001, the FSFE has been working every single day to further Free Software in Europe and beyond. With our concrete activities, based upon the three pillars of our work, we focus on protecting and extending user rights. Some of our actions run for many years, some are aimed at short-term developments, but all are part of our mission: empower users to control technology.

Another major part of our work consists of continuous engagement and background work. We are present at dozens of conferences per year, support and maintain an excellent community and provide it with helpful resources. Furthermore, we are a prominent contact point for all questions and enquiries around software freedom, Open Standards, and user rights.

Learn more about legal issues in Free Software and our general approach in this area.

  • Logo of REUSE Software

    REUSE Software

    The FSFE is running a project to make licensing easy for humans and machines alike. It solves a fundamental issue that Free Software licensing has at the very source: what license is a file licensed under, and who owns the copyright? REUSE provides easy recommendations in three steps that help users, developers and legal professionals.

  • Logo of Legal Network

    Legal Network

    The Legal Network is a neutral, non-partisan, group of experts in different fields involved in Free Software legal issues. Currently the Legal Network has several hundreds of participants from different legal systems, academic backgrounds and affiliations. The aim of the Legal Network is to promote discussion and foster better knowledge of the legal constructs that back Free Software. The conversations on the Legal Network are intended to be dynamic, thought-provoking and up to speed with the most recent developments. Since 2007, we have been conducting the annual Legal and Licencing Workshop (LLW) which has become the world’s foremost gathering of lawyers, technologists, and thought leaders on Free Software legal and licensing topics in an informal and confidential atmosphere.

  • Logo of Licence Questions

    Licence Questions

    The FSFE’s Licence Questions mailing list is our group of volunteers dedicated to provide help with Free Software licences and compliance. If you need advice on what Free Software licence you should use, or if you want to know more about what rights you have over a piece of Free Software, you can contact us.

  • Logo of Next Generation Internet

    Next Generation Internet

    The FSFE is a partner organisation of NGI, a coalition of various not-for-profit organisations from across Europe. Funded by the European Commmission, NGI provides grants to individual researchers and developers, as well as teams that wish to work on new ideas and technologies that contribute to the establishment of the Next Generation Internet. The FSFE provides legal support for projects that improve openness, inclusivity, transparency, privacy, cooperation, and protection of data.

  • Logo of Fiduciary Programme

    Fiduciary Programme

    The Fiduciary License Agreement (FLA) allows software projects to assign and consolidate copyrights to a named fiduciary, for the effective management of their copyright status by this fiduciary. This permits developers to focus on making great applications, rather than spending their time dealing with legal administration. While the FSFE no longer accepts new projects under the Fiduciary Programme, we continue to offer customisable versions of the Fiduciary License Agreement (FLA) for your use.

  • Software Patents in Europe

    We are working towards a world where software does what software users want it to do. For this, software users must be able to participate in the development and distribution of the software. Software patents block this goal by adding legal and financial risks to software development and distribution and by giving the patent holders legal power to completely prohibit software developers from using the patented ideas.

  • Microsoft vs. EU Antitrust CaseFinished

    In 2001 the European Union started investigating Microsoft's dominant position in the market for desktop operating systems. The FSFE played two key roles in this case. First, we represented the interests of Free Software developers. Second, we are a public interest organisation who cannot be bought off. Thanks to the excellent work by all involved parties, the case has been won in all rulings up to the European Court of Justice in 2012.

  • EURA Slovakia caseFinished

    The Slovak company EURA Slovakia has been facing EUR 5600 in fines because it did not buy and use the Microsoft Windows operating system for submitting electronic tax reports. Slovak tax administration gave EURA only two options: either to buy and use Microsoft Windows or face the fines. The FSFE assisted in this case to advocate for platform-neutral solutions for such procedures instead. Unfortunately, the court decided against Free Software and Open Standards, but we were able to raise awareness about these wrongdoings in Slovakia and beyond.

  • AVM GPL violationFinished

    Can a company modify GPL-licensed software on a third-party device? The router manufacturer AVM accused Cybits of copyright infringement and trademark claims because they modify the original router firmware which is largely based on the Linux kernel. Together with gpl-violations.org we successfully convinced the court that the provisions in the GPL license are binding: software under this license can be freely modified and installed even if it is shipped as part of an embedded device's firmware.

  • MS-OOXMLFinished

    Since the very beginning of the standardisation process for Microsoft's Office Open XML - OOXML (hereinafter MS-OOXML), the FSFE has expressed serious doubts about whether MS-OOXML could be considered as open, if even, as a standard at all. The FSFE first raised the issue in the community and led the movement against the standardisation of MS-OOXML, following closely over the years the relevant developments.

  • GPLv3Finished

    The June 29th 2007 release of version 3 of the GNU General Public License (GPL) marked the end of an eighteen month public consultation process. During this time, the FSFE worked to raise awareness of the changes proposed for the licence, to help the community to participate in the public consultation, and to document the ongoing discussion to make this topic as accessible as possible.

  • AGNULA: A GNU/Linux Audio distributionFinished

    The AGNULA project aimed at the creation of a fully functional, entirely Free Software GNU/Linux distribution for professional audio users. It is a project run by key players in the audio field with funding by the European Commission. The FSFE as a partner of this project is taking care of the legal issues, the long-term aspects and also making sure the Free Software community interests are heard.