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FSFE Newsletter - October 2012

Software Freedom Day: What alternative is there to Skype?

The Free Software community celebrated the worldwide Software Freedom Day, held annually the third Saturday in September, with diverse events and meetings. Our local Fellowship group in Manchester met to test and discuss what alternative there is to Skype. They did extensive testing and published the results.

Dressed with hoodies with the slogan "Independent through Free Software" our Vienna Fellowship group had an information booth giving away 300 Free Software live CDs and over 1000 Free Software leaflets. At Freedom Kosova 2012, Erik Albers gave a talk and the day before he helped to free some Android phones. More devices were liberated during the Free Your Android workshop, that Torsten Grote organised during SFD in Berlin. And, in Cologne, there was a gathering with lectures about software freedom.

The resurrection of the debate: Should Europe have software patents?

After Apple sued Samsung, Personalweb Technologies and Level 3 Communications is suing GitHub, and "Twin Peaks Software, Inc." is suing Red Hat (they filed a counterclaim because of a GNU GPL violation) about patents.

Meanwhile the European Parliament has postponed the debate about the Unitary Patent , which gives us more time to work on pointing out the serious problems and hazards of the proposal to the Legal Affairs Committee.

Our president, Karsten Gerloff, wrote a series of articles about software patents pointing at the current situation at the European Union level and he has published his notes about "The Case Against Patents", a recent draft paper by economists Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine. He concludes that we cannot "leave it to the EPO" and that "patent policy needs to be integrated into a larger innovation policy strategy"within the EU.

France's Prime Minister issues guideline in favour of Free Software

After Italy's new law on software procurement which clearly prefers Free Software upon non-free software, France also took action: On September 19th France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault signed a guideline, addressed to all ministries, that the French public administration should favour Free Software. The advantages the Prime Minister sees in Free Software, are its lower costs and that it increases flexibility and competition in the IT market. The public administration should make "an educated choice", and do "a systematic review of free alternatives when doing development and major revisions of applications."

The cross-ministry IT services give a set of recommendations to be implemented by the French ministries aiming at developing and improving the use of Free Software such as: find Free Software alternatives, follow and contribute to the communities, or improve the culture of Free Software and Free licences.

FSFE's new intern Léopold Baillard explains this in detail in his first blog post; EC's joinup wrote about it; and the French Free Software organisation APRIL also has good information on the case.

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Thanks to all the Fellows and donors who enable our work,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE

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