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FSFE Newsletter - July 2011

Attack on Free Software and the GNU GPL

Imagine that you've just bought a computer with pre-installed Free Software. After some time you decide to install additional software made by someone else. The vendor that sold you your computer, however, does not approve, and decides to sue the people who made the additional software that you installed. Sounds like purchasing a computer from that vendor was not such a great idea!

At the moment something very similar is happening in in Germany, in an important GNU GPL violation case that the FSFE and gpl-violations.org are participating. Germany company AVM maintains in court that others should not be allowed to modify the software that comes pre-installed on their commercial computers and devices. It turns out, though, that this pre-installed software includes the Linux kernel, a piece of software distributed under the GNU GPL which guarantees exactly this freedom to users.

Through their actions, AVM is attacking the very foundations of Free Software: they want to take away freedom from others. It will directly contravene the legal rights of the original software authors, who decided that software freedom and cooperation is more important to them than receiving license fees. If AVM is successful in court it will be a disastrous move for the freedom of software on embedded devices, mobile phones, network hardware and other Free Software based products.

The judge did not make a decision during the June 21 court hearing, and participants in the case may still file further written pleas. On September 27 the court is set to either make a direct ruling on the case or choose to begin hearing evidence. The FSFE and gpl-violations.org have published a detailed report about the case, and will continue to monitor the situation in defence of freedom for software users.

FSFE Internal: An era ends - others start

Usually you don't hear about the people who work behind the scenes for the FSFE. Most of us are volunteers, and press and publicity work is handled by people like FSFE president Karsten Gerloff, or your humble editor. But without those volunteers who donate their spare time to promote software freedom the FSFE would not be what it is today. (Thank you!)

At the FSFE's June 11 General Assembly, which took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, FSFE's members elected Henrik Sandklef to be the organisation's Vice President. A computer scientist and GNU Hacker from Gothenburg, Sweden, Henrik has been active with the FSFE since 2005. He takes over from Fernanda Weiden, who held the volunteer position for the past two years. The General Assembly also confirmed Karsten Gerloff as FSFE's President and Reinhard Müller as Finanical Officer.

While a new officer term cycle began, another era ended as Bernhard Reiter, FSFE co-founder, completed ten years as German coordinator and Deputy. He is the first FSFE representative to continuously hold positions within the organisation for such a long time, and is the only person to have participated in every FSFE annual General Assembly to date. Bernhard will remain active within the FSFE but has handed the official post of Deputy German Coordinator to Torsten Grote.

The European Commission’s locked-in syndrome

It's official: The European Commission will migrate to Microsoft Windows 7 without considering alternative solutions. In a reply to questions asked by MEP Bart Staes (Greens/EFA), the European Commission confirmed that it has awarded contracts for the 'upgrade' to Microsoft and reseller Fujitsu-Siemens on behalf of 55 other European institutions and the Commission itself. As Karsten explains in his blog article on the issue, this move will drive the Comission into even greater dependence on Microsoft.

And now for something completely different

Get active: Become an FSFE booth volunteer in Strasbourg

The FSFE will participate in the RMLL, one of France's biggest Free Software events, from July 9 to 14. In addition to having an information booth, the FSFE will also deliver presentations on Free Software: Karsten will talk about Centralised Internet Services and Problems of Power (13.07., 15:20), France Coordinator Hugo Roy will talk about the battle fought by Free Software for HTML5 online videos, and several other speakers have been invited to talk on topics concerning decentralisation of the Internet.

Like every booth and event we participate with, please contact today to volunteer if you are able. Help us to inform our audiences about Free Software!

Best regards and see you next time,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE

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