"Microsoft should be required openly, fully and faithfully to implement free and open industry standards," is the message of a letter by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) to European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. To help achieve this goal, FSFE offered its support for a possible antitrust investigation based on the complaint of Opera Software against Microsoft. The complaint was based on anti-competitive behaviour in the web browser market.
News Archive for 2007
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One case is over and interoperability won. The European Court made clear that interoperability information should not be kept secret and the agreement shows that Microsoft saw no way to continue its obstruction of interoperability in this area. This establishes a standard which everyone will have to meet from now on.
"Vendor lock-in has become the primary problem for IT decisions in general and Free Software adoption in particular. It distorts the market and denies Free Software solutions equal competition on the merits. The problem has been that many lock-ins are invisible, for example reliance on proprietary protocols or needing to use certain document formats. Certified Open makes that lock-in visible and allows users to measure their dependency."
"Microsoft can consider itself above the law no longer," says Georg Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). "Through tactics that successfully derailed antitrust processes in other parts of the world, including the United States, Microsoft has managed to postpone this day for almost a decade. But thanks to the perseverance and excellent work of the European Commission, these tactics have now failed in Europe."
The terms of the GNU GPL licence have been confirmed as binding once again, with a German court ruling that Skype was failing to uphold its obligations as a distributor. FSFE wants to help other vendors understand their GNU GPL obligations.
FSFE Guest Commentary on Heise.de: "Conversion between Microsoft's Office OpenXML (MS-OOXML) and the vendor-independent Open Document Format (ODF) has been proposed by Microsoft and its associates as a solution to the problems caused by Microsoft's efforts to push a format into the market that conflicts with the existing Open Standard. [...] If these converters were actually able to do what they promise to do, they would be unnecessary."
Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has always helped the community through providing pro bono advice, and through this has discovered that businesses often require additional personal assistance. For this reason, FSFE is offering businesses a chance to get individual consultancy regarding Free Software issues at its Zurich, Switzerland office.
Featured article by Georg Greve and Joachim Jakobs about the need for Open Standards in archival, and why using MS-OOXML risks future data loss: "Digital information could potentially be stored without loss of quality for a very long time to come. But without knowledge about the encoding, our documents will become a meaningless series of ones and zeroes to future generations, just like cave paintings are too often meaningless bits of colour on stone to us."
Version 3 of the GNU GPL has been released, after eighteen months of public consultation and discussion. Version 3 provides better internationalisation, more protection against software patents, and does a better job of ensuring that Free Software users can install modified software on their computers.
Six years after its start in 2001, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has now grown into an organisation of 9 employees equalling 6.7 full-time staff plus two interns. The European Core Team is fast approaching 30 people and there are active people in more than nine European countries. This report will try to summarise some of the key milestones of the past two years of activity.
The following six questions relate to the application of the ECMA/MS-OOXML format to be accepted as an IEC/ISO standard. Unless a national standardisation body has conclusive answers to all of them, it should vote no in IEC/ISO and request that Microsoft incorporate its work on MS-OOXML into ISO/IEC 26300:2006 (Open Document Format).
The FSFE criticises the proposed "second Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive" (IPRED2) for sweeping criminalisation across various areas of law and loosely described areas of activity, including for 'attempting, aiding or abetting and inciting.' The proposed text criminalises these acts for infringement of many dissimilar laws including copyright, trademark, and patents.
The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is committed to working with lawyers throughout Europe to maximise the legal security of Free Software and is aware that as the community matures it is important to be able to locate professional legal advice. For this reason FSFE has introduced a new policy for recommending legal experts in individual countries.
"The Free Software community is built on the principle of cooperation of many very different parts. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) works exclusively for the benefit of the entire community, including the companies that make use of Free Software," explains Georg Greve, president of FSFE. "We do this work gladly and with great enthusiasm and we always remember that to a large extent this work is made possible by those who work with us and support us, in particular the many Fellows of FSFE."
Today FSFE has released the Fiduciary Licence Agreement (FLA) under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence (GFDL) and the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-alike (CC by-sa) licence. The FLA is a copyright assignment that allows Free Software projects to bundle their copyright in a single organisation or person. It enables projects to ensure their legal maintainability and can be used to either assign copyright to FSFE's Fiduciary Program or to assign the rights to another organisation set up by the project team itself.
FSFE considers this a unique opportunity: With the release of Vista, users will need to upgrade to a new operating system that will feel different and require some time to get used to its functionality. The same is true for any modern GNU/Linux distribution. It is about the same investment in effort, but it will give you control over your own data.
The OpenSwarm Project will be protected by FSFE's Freedom Task Force (FTF). Shane Coughlan, FTF Coordinator, explains "The Freedom Task Force is here to help strengthen the legal foundation of the Free Software eco-system. The Fiduciary licence Agreement is part of this. It provides a clear way for projects to consolidate their copyright. In the case of OpenSwarm, FSFE is acting a legal guardian for the project and ensuring that the developers can focus on maturing an exciting development platform."
In this talk, Richard Stallman explains why Free Software is
defined the way it is, the technical and political choices that
have gotten the Free Software movement to where it is today, and
what we have to do to prepare for what's ahead. With more than
20 years of practice, Stallman also entertains while telling the
This transription work was undertaken by FSFE due to the very positive feedback from the transcripts about GPLv3.