Anna Morris is co-founder or FLOSSIE conference for women in Free Software, Manchester Fellowship Group Deputy Coordinator, and Co-Director of Ethical Pets Ltd. She is currently writing a book on video editing with Free Software, and volunteering with Document Freedom Day 2013 in her spare time.
News Archive for 2012
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A group of 45 Free Software organisations have signed a legal complaint to Italy's Ministry of Education. FSFE, AsSoLi, Wikimedia Italia, the Free Software User Group Italia, the Associazione per l'Informazione Geografica Libera (GFoss.it), the Italian Linux Society, LibreItalia and 38 other groups warn that the country's Ministry of Education is putting Free Software at an unfair disadvantage.
Today, the European Parliament has adopted a proposal to create a patent with
unitary effect for Europe. This decision will leave Europe with a patent system
that is both deeply flawed and prone to overreach. It also ends democratic
control of Europe's innovation policy.
"We are disappointed that so many MEPs were prepared to throw Europe's researchers and innovators under the bus just to achieve a deal, any deal" says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe. "It is natural that after nearly four decades of discussions on a single patent system for Europe, most of those involved simply want the debate to end. But we would have expected more of our elected representatives."
The European Parliament is about to vote on a "unitary patent" for Europe in its plenary session on December 11. The proposal currently on the table is widely known to have serious legal and practical problems. In the light of these problems, Free Software Foundation Europe urges the Parliament's members to delay the vote until a better solution can be worked out.
7 days until the fundraising is over! Once again, thanks to everyone who has donated and is helping us to reach our goal. Yet, we need a last "push": we have reached 82% so we need 188€ more. If you still have not donated, please do it!. With only a small contribution (the average donation amount is 23€) you will help us to achieve our goal.
Two weeks have been gone since we launched the PDF Readers fundraising. First, we want to thank everyone who made a donation. Currently, we received 856 EUR (more than 75% of the goal). Thanks to your donation, and you informing your friends about this work, we will reach the 1100 EUR until the 4th of December.
Yesterday the German Ministry of the Interior published a white paper about "Trusted Computing" and "Secure Boot". The white paper says that "device owners must be in complete control of (able to manage and monitor) all the trusted computing security systems of their devices." This has been one of FSFE's key demands from the beginning. The document continues that "delegating this control to third parties requires conscious and informed consent by the device owner".
Finnish Free Software activist Otto Kekäläinen and Danish hacker Ole Tange are the recipients of the 2012 Nordic Free Software Award. With the Nordic Free Software award, given out for the 6th time this year, the Swedish Association for Free Software and Free Culture (FFKP, Föreningen Fri Kultur och Programvara) honours people and projects who have made important contributions to software freedom.
What would you think if your government told you which brand of car to drive on public roads? The same way the public administration is required to be neutral on this, it should not decide which software you use when reading PDF documents. The state should offer choice and especially promote software that respects its citizens' freedom.
This month we interviewed Hugo Roy, FSFE’s French Team coordinator and co-founder of the Digital Freedoms association. He joined FSFE in 2009 as an intern, assisting FSFE president Karsten Gerloff. In France, Hugo is also active with April and of French Data Network.
Are you willing to do something to improve our society? Do you think that our society development relies on a fair and transparent digital sphere? Do you want to increase our society's freedom? FSFE has one internship position available, starting February 2013. We are looking for bright, motivated, innovative people who want to make a real difference towards a free information society. Apply.
Free Software activists ask Italian Authority for Protection of Personal Data to publish readable documents
Free Software Foundation Europe and twenty Italian civil society organisations wrote a letter to the President of the Authority for the Protection of Personal Data, asking the agency to ensure that all documents published on its website can be read and used with Free Software programs.
It's now possible to become a public supporter of FSFE. This allows you to easily show that you care about Free Software and support the FSFE's activities.
Will lawsuits like Apple vs Samsung soon take place in Europe? The European Parliament is about to set the future course for Europe's patent system. On September 17th and 18th, the European Parliament's Legal Affairs committee will discuss a proposal for a EU-wide patent. From now until September 18th, FSFE will continuously provide updates and analysis on the unitary patent on our website.
Now that software patents are back on the table, it’s important to understand how the European patent system actually works. You need to know this in order to discuss the unitary patent and FSFE’s demands with the MEPs you call and ask for support. Patent policy belongs under legislative control. Our current political processes and institutions aren’t perfect, but they’re certainly better than the EPO’s secretive insider culture. Good patent policy needs transparency, accountability and participation. The current proposal for the unitary patent lacks all of these things.
Should Europe have software patents? The discussion is back in full force. After the European Parliament rejected patents on software in 2005, things went quiet for a while. Now the European Parliament is about to decide on setting up a single patent for Europe, known as the “unitary patent”. This is a chance to get rid of software patents. But if we don’t manage to achieve a real change in the current proposal, software patents will become even more entrenched in Europe. Get active, and let's get rid of software patents once and for all!
When the companies or authors that license Free Software enter bankruptcy there is a risk that granted Free Software licenses will face legal challenges in some jurisdictions. FSFE is now trying to prevent this situation in Germany. The expert institution ifrOSS supported by FSFE suggests German Ministry of Justice to include a specific Free Software clause in the German Insolvency Code.
Last May 23th, the Council of Region Lazio, Italy, approved a Regional Law on "Reuse of information and public data, and connected initiatives". With further regulation, methods and technical rules for reusing software will be determined. In the meantime, we proposed them a checklist of motivations by which both Institutions and the Community would be advantages by a migration to systems based on Free Software.
The IT department of the city of Helsinki claimed in a report to the city board that migrating to OpenOffice would cost is over 21 million euros. On 10th of April 2012, FSFE filed a Freedom of Information request, asking the city how it had arrived at a surprisingly high cost estimates for running OpenOffice (now LibreOffice) on the city's workstations. The city of Helsinki has now denied this request and has stated that it will not release any details about the calculations.
FSFE has two internship positions available, starting August 2012. We are looking for bright, motivated people who want to make a real difference for a free information society. Whether your background is in politics, law, computer science or other fields, we welcome your application. If you want to spend between four and twelve exciting months working at the point where technology, society and politics meet, apply now.
The European Court of Justice has ordered Microsoft to finally pay a record fine for using its near-monopoly position on the desktop to keep rivals out of the workgroup server market. Four years ago, the European Commission slapped the software giant with a fine of 899 million Euros for its anticompetitive behaviour. In today's ruling, the ECJ ruled that this unprecedented fine was largely justified.
This month we interviewed Bjarni Runar Einarsson, the founder and lead developer of PageKite, an application which allows the publication of websites stored on personal computers and mobiles. He won the Nordic Free Software Award for his work in 2010.
The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has started an initiative to advance fair public procurements in Finland. The initiative concentrates on IT related procurement notices that require brand instead of defining functionalities required by the procurer. To date FSFE has skimmed over 300 procurement notices, and of those taken into closer analysis, 14 have been found to clearly violate the Finnish procurement law. These violating notices explicitly asked for tenders of specific brands of software manufacturers or products and thus discriminate all other brands and manufacturers, effectively stopping free competition.
Last week's draft Communications Bill outlines how civil servants are again intent on surveilling the internet communications of innocent British citizens. Fortunately, Free Software provides several ways with which you can protect your privacy online, regardless of the measures that the Coalition may impose upon you or your telecoms providers.
On Saturday June 9, activists across Europe are taking to the streets to protest against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). They demand that the European Parliament should finally reject this controversial treaty, which would greatly harm citizens' rights. The Parliament will hold a plenary vote on ACTA in July.
FSFE has submitted its response [pdf] to a public consultation by the UK Government, concerning a definition of Open Standards and a policy for increasing their use in the UK's public sector. If the policy is applied boldly and proactively, the UK stands to greatly gain from increased competition in the software market, with much greater opportunities for small companies. On the other hand, even minor lapses in implementation could derail the policy entirely.
FSFE's goal is to ensure that the owners of IT devices are always in full and sole control of them. This fundamental principle is recently being challenged by "Secure Boot". For maintaining sustained growth in the development and use of software, the broad availability of general purpose computers is crucial. Today FSFE's published an analysis on the topic.
FSFE has submitted its response [Update: see as PDF version or HTML version] to a public consultation by the UK Government, concerning a definition of Open Standards and a policy for increasing their use in the UK's public sector. If the policy is applied boldly and proactively, the UK stands to greatly gain from increased competition in the software market, with much greater opportunities for small companies. On the other hand, even minor lapses in implementation could derail the policy entirely.
This week 1.1 million French voters living outside of France have the opportunity to cast a vote for their eleven members of Parliament via the internet. Voting will be made through a web application which requires the use of non-free software¹, according to citizens using Free software.
Giacomo Poderi has worked as a translator and editor for FSFE, as well as completing a master’s degree in Philosophy. Currently he’s working on a Ph.D in sociology, which looks at the user experience in Free Software Projects, focusing on the turn-based strategy game ‘The Battle for Wesnoth’.
In Slovakia, a law introduced to reduce red tape has led to injustice. The state has mandated electronic means as a only way of fulfilling certain statutory obligations. However the dedicated web solution excludes some citizens from use as it is not interoperable and runs only on the software from one vendor. In absence of any non-electronic option, this means that state, in fact, prescribed the use of a certain product from a certain vendor. Who did not own the copy, had to buy one. Slovak textile importer deemed that state should not force him to use a certain software for his business and fulfilled its legal obligation by paper. Now the company faces EUR 5600 in fines.
Slovak textile importer EURA Slovakia, s.r.o. is 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. This is also how we could briefly summarize the decision of Slovak tax administration from a few weeks ago. The administration imposed several fines on a company, EURA Slovakia, which submitted its tax reports on paper, because the use of electronic form was impossible as the state's web application worked only on the Microsoft Windows operating system. The company now plans to appeal to the court and to demand that the state stops forcing businesses to use a certain product, instead of requiring that the public administration uses a multi-platform technical solution based on Open Standards that is available for everybody.
A report on the City of Helsinki's pilot project for the use of OpenOffice in the public administrations leaves the public with more questions than answers. The city trialled the Free Software productivity suite on the laptops of council members for ten months in 2011. The suite enjoyed high approval rates among its users. When the pilot was finished, the City produced a report stating that the costs of migrating the entire administration to OpenOffice would be very high.
This document was prepared by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) for readers who are interested in the City of Helsinki's OpenOffice pilot project, and in lessons that may be drawn from this project.
Document Freedom Day 2012 was a great success! America, Asia, Africa and Europe celebrated together Open Standards at 54 events. It is no doubt that DFD is growing and we believe that it will be even more successful next year. So what about having look at what happened around the world on 28th of March? And what has the Pope to do with Open Standards? Read our detailed report to find out.
Manchester will be hacking for freedom this month when FSFE's Web Team sprint comes to the UK. Web team coordinators, together with a variety of international volunteers, will gather in a concerted effort to improve website features and infrastructure.
The Free Software Foundation Europe awarded the Slovak Commission for Standardization of the Public Administration Information Systems and its working groups with the Document Freedom Award this week. The Commission was awarded for its long standing commitment and achieved results in the field of the Open Standards. The prize was presented on the occasion of Document Freedom Day, the international day of Open Standards.
Environmentalists will be joined together by Free Software on March 31st when Manchester's "Big Green Festival" and Leicester's "Green Light Festival" are bridged by Free Software for participants to share thoughts and pictures between locations in real-time.
Karlsruhe, 28 March 2012 - 1&1, GMX and WEB.DE receive the German Document Freedom Award for the use of Open Standards. The prize is awarded by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure e.V. (FFII). 1&1 is awarded for automatically adding XMPP for all customers of their mail services. The Document Freedom Award is awarded annually on the occasion of Document Freedom Day - the international day for Open Standards. Last years winners include tagesschau.de, Deutschland Radio, and the German Foreign Office.
Free Software advocates worldwide are today celebrating information accessibility and Open Standards. 48 events in 17 countries are using demonstrations, talks and workshops to explain why Open Standards and Free Software are crucial to a free and competitive information society.
British politicians need your help to understand Open Standards. Donate an information pack explaining their responsibility to use Free and accessible standards, and demonstrate the threat of vendor lock-in with the included pair of handcuffs.
With Document Freedom Day coming up on Wednesday, we're publishing an article by FSFE co-founder Bernhard Reiter. He discusses what makes a good data format, and argues that Open Standards are good, but that we need to push further still. His central question to data formats is "Can we make it simpler?"
This year's DFD is approaching fast, and we can already say that we will have had a good year: More than 30 events have been registered in South-America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. However, both we and you could do a lot better, and there is still time to register and organise an event. North-America, Africa, Oceania, and Asia desperately need more events. Also, while Central Europe is well covered, Europe's western, eastern, and northern parts could do with additional events. To organise an event, you can gather ideas from the highlighted events below, or take a look at our events page.
Guido Günther is a Debian and GNOME contributor who added MIPS support to Debian, and worked for the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He discusses why Free Software was a good fit for the needs of embassies and consulates, and what drew him to take on big technical challenges in Debian.
Do you know a certain politician who should really learn more about Open Standards? Have you tried to explain the importance of Open Standards to your boss, friends, local administration or service, but without any results? Would support from the outside world help? Definitely! Inform our Document Freedom Day (DFD) team about your situation and we will send a free, remarkable gift to your contact to help them learn more about the power of Open Standards.
…Nikos Roussos! The election period for this year's Fellowship GA seat has ended on February 29 and it was exciting until the end. Albert Dengg and Gert Seidl who also stood for the Fellowship GA seat promised to stay around and continue their great work for FSFE in their area. "I'm really glad I got elected. I'll try to help FSFE's cause in every way I can" says Nikos after his election victory.
On February 14th, people around the globe were celebrating the "I love Free Software" day. To all of you, thank you very much for participating in our #ilovefs-campaign and for showing your support for Free Software on this day. We were really excited about your creativity and participiation. All these love declarations went out to the developers, users and wizards behind Free Software and their communities. While some of you dedicated their love to specific programs that you enjoy most. We are pretty sure that their developers and users have read your love declarations and that your love will motivate them to carry on their good work. Here are just a few examples and highlights of your love declarations.
On Monday, the US Department of Justice approved the sale of Nortel's patent portfolio to a consortium led by Apple and Microsoft. At the same time, the DOJ and the European Commission allowed Google to buy Motorola Mobility, thus giving the search company a sizable patent portfolio.
ACTA, a multi-national treaty to enforce copyright and patents, is threatening Free Software and freedom in the information society. It endangers people's access to essential medicines. The treaty creates a culture of surveillance and suspicion, and the way in which it was negotiated is a mockery of proper democratic process.
During the whole of February 2012, FSFE's Fellows will be able to elect their representative in FSFE's General Assembly. The winner of the election will help FSFE's strategic decision making body plan the future of the organisation, and will join Hugo Roy who occupies the other Fellowship seat since 2011. Both Fellowship representatives are full members of the General Assembly for a term of two years, and have all the rights and obligations of other members.
On 28th of March 2012, we will be running a campaign for document liberation - Document Freedom Day 2012. On this occasion, we would like to ask you for help in promoting its underlying idea by means of your art.
A short post in French on the Mozilla Public License 2.0. If you want to know about it, you can read in English Luis Villa, who led the update process. Richard Fontana wrote an article (RedHat); and the FSF has lauded the compatibility with GNU licenses.)
Read about launch of cloud computing interoperability intitiative, US Supreme Court decision on copyright extension, plan of Spanish region to use 40.000 Linux based desktops, patent inflation and more.
The Free Software Foundation Europe plans to celebrate Valentine's Day on 14th February as an "I love Free Software" - Day. Please help us in showing your support for Free Software by participating in our online campaign. Emails, blogs, microblogs, donations, everything is welcome! There are free banners to use for your website available, too. In addition, this year will also be an event to celebrate Free Software in the Unperfekthaus in Essen. We would love to see you there!
Read about European concerns with SOPA, dangers of Secure Boot, Nokia's move to sell 450 patents to a patent troll, summary of Free Software developments in 2011, web blocking in Germany and many more.
Together with dozens of other civil society organisations, FSFE has signed a letter to US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, urging the Senate to stand up for human rights, defend freedom of speech and the open internet, and reject the SOPA and PIPA proposals currently before it.
In a reply to the BBC about proposed changes to the national curriculum, Sam Tuke explains some of the ways in which teaching Free Software programming skills in schools is important to the future of Britain.
FSFE calls for an amendment that would eventually enable Free Software and Creative Commons licenses for Slovak citizens. Currently, these licenses are considered to be void due to lack of their written form and problems with formation of the contract. Slovakia is thus one of a few countries where these popular licensing tools still struggle with rigid legislative framework.
This year for the fourth time, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) will assign the Document Freedom Award on the 28th of March 2012. With the Document Freedom Award, the FSFE and the FFII like to honor institutes or enterprises that made an outstanding contribution for the spread and the use of Open Standards. The Document Freedom Award is granted each year during the Document Freedom Day, the international day to celebrate the importance of Open Standards