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FSFE Newsletter - February 2013

Unitary fail for our society

We want software as a tool to help society. Software patents are a threat to this as they add legal and financial risks to software development and distribution by giving the patent holders legal power to completely prohibit software developers from using patented ideas.

In December the European Parliament has adopted a proposal to create a patent with unitary effect for Europe (henceforth the "unitary patent"). In adopting the proposal, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) chose to disregard intense criticism of the proposal from all sides of the debate. Already before the vote patent lawyers, legal experts, SMEs and civil society groups such as FFII as well as FSFE all voiced their concerns to MEPs. With the adoption, the European Parliament has given up part of its power to shape Europe's innovation policy. That power will instead fall to the European Patent Office (EPO), which has a track record of awarding monopoly powers on the widest possible range of subject matter.

According to the European Parliament's website, "the international agreement creating a unified patent court will enter into force on 1 January 2014 or after thirteen contracting states ratify it, provided that UK, France and Germany are among them. With your ongoing help, FSFE will continue to inform companies and politicians about the danger of software patents.

Italy does not want Free Software users as teachers

Pupils, as well as teachers, must have the possibility to use Free Software at school. Unfortunately, many of the IT questions on the questionnaire used to evaluate prospective teachers in Italy focus on a single proprietary operating system and software exclusively available on that system. The practice discriminates against Free Software users wishing to become teachers. Our Italian team filed a legal complaint to the Italian Ministry of Education about that. In association with 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 we explain that the country's Ministry of Education is putting Free Software at an unfair disadvantage.

In addition to the ongoing work in Italy, FSFE's education team did more in 2012 than ever before to promote the use of Free Software in schools and universities. Guido Arnold summarised the team's work and its plans for 2013.

Don't look back in anger!

At least there should be no reason for FSFE's work in 2012. Read our annual report to find out what we achieved, how we did it, and what lies ahead for 2013. We thank all of our Fellows, donors and sponsors for making our work possible! If you like what you read please also donate as a Fellow of FSFE.

Something completely different

Get active: You love Free Software? Show it!

As in the previous years, for February 14th we ask you to show your love to people involved in Free Software, and who's work you admire.

For example, prepare a "love letter" telling the developers of a certain program, why you love what they do, send us a quote and a picture, use one of the banners or buttons made by Markus Meier on your website, blog (like your editor did), profile pages, and motivate others to participate in the "I love Free Software" day. Thanks to Markus and Erik we also have ilovefs posters and flyers available. You can pick them up at FSFE booths or order FSFE promotion material (soon updated with other new material).

All the Fellows among you also have the e-mail forwarding login@ilovefs.org, in addition to their @fsfe.org one.

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

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