FSFE Newsletter - May 2013
Document Freedom Day 2013
Every year on the last wednesday of March, Document Freedom Day (DFD) takes place: the global day to raise awareness of Open Standards, organised by the FSFE. It has been amazing to see year by year how the message of freedom and Open Standards has continued to spread around the world. This year, there were 59 events in 30 countries, and many first time participants, including Niger, Indonesia and the United States.
Highlights from Document Freedom Day include more than a hundred press articles and blogs, Libre Office's publication of a new migration guide, support from Lawrence Lessig, and a storm of social media coverage and opening up discussions.
But let's not forget: all these events were organised by local groups. Among them were many FSFE Fellowship groups, a wide variety of other Free Software community organisations, and teams of friends who care about Open Standards. So, this is a big thank you to everybody who made this year's DFD so successful! It is awesome to see how Free Software and Open Standards connect people around the world. Read the extended report online.
Free Software Legal & Licensing Workshop
In early April, we held our annual Free Software Legal & Licensing Workshop in Amsterdam. More than 70 Free Software legal experts from the Legal Network came together for two days in order to share their knowledge and discuss cutting-edge questions in the field.
Topics discussed this year included recent court rulings, patent-related developments, and transferring Free Software licensing ideas to hardware. Stefano Zacchiroli, Debian's (now former) project leader, delivered a keynote speech, describing the community perspective on legal issues.
FSFE welcomes Ceata as associate organisation
A new foundation from Romania and Moldova has joined FSFE's program of associate organisations. Ceata has been promoting Free Software and culture since 2008, and in February this year was officially incorporated. The group, based in Bucharest with local chapters in Cluj and Chișinău, organises conferences on Free Software, Free hardware, and Free culture. Ceata also develops their own applications, translates programs into Romanian, and participates in international campaigns. Fundația Ceata and FSFE will now join forces and work more effectively on promoting software freedom in Romania and throughout Europe.
Something completely different
- The German Parliament (the 'Bundestag') has voted on a joint motion against software patents. The resolution urges the German government to take steps to limit the granting of patents on computer programs. The Parliament's resolution reminds the government that, under the EU's Computer Programs Directive, software is covered by copyright, not patents. It calls on the government to finally put the directive's "copyright approach" into practice, and make German law more concrete in this regard. It also points out that the restrictions which patents impose are incompatible with the most widely used Free Software licenses.
- The winner of the election for FSFE's Fellowship GA is Heiki "Repentinus" Ojasild. The election period for this year's Fellowship GA seat ended on March 15, and proved exciting to the end. Thanks to all Fellows who participated in the process and made this a valuable experience for the Fellowship and for FSFE.
- Please welcome the latest Fellowship group, from Bari, South Italy! The way the group was formed was unprecedented in FSFE history: As a former GNU/Linux user group, 15 people joined FSFE simultaneously to create a new Fellowship group. According to the members, they took this step in order to be more active on a political level in future.
- The chancellor of the "Freie Universität Berlin" has asked all staff to use exclusively 'Apple iTunes U' for the publication of University materials, such as recordings of lectures. To access University resources therefore, students now have to use Apple iTunes, which excludes users of Free Software operating systems, and includes a variety of anti-consumer measures to lock them in to the service. FSFE has written to the chancellor explaining why University resources should be available without software barriers (German).
- As part of the Ask Your Candidates campaign, FSFE has sent out 'voting benchmarks' ("Wahlprüfsteine") for all three elections in Germany, that will be in autumn this year. The aim is to obtain public statements on Free Software policies and committments from parties which are hoping to be elected. Some responses have already been received and will be published soon.
- FSFE participated in the Chemnitzer Linuxtage conference this month. The FSFE booth received lots of attention, and many people approached the team to ask about campaigns. Free Your Android proved to be a hot topic, generating many questions and ideas. Reinhard Müller, FSFE's Financial Officer, gave a talk entitled "Free yourself: how to save the world in five easy steps", and Erik Albers, Fellowship Deputy Coordinator, gave a presentation on Free Your Android. Erik was in Freeing frenzy this month, and delivered the same talk at Cebit in Hannover, Germany. The conference organisers filmed and hosted a video of the talk, but unfortunately only in Adobe Flash.
- From the planet aggregation:
- Hugo explains why the HTML5 <video> tag has been a failure and still is. He argues that we need to weigh in to the political process which is shaping HTML5, and to fight the surrounding Fear Uncertainty and Doubt to keep the Internet a place where everyone is free to express themselves - without having to ask for permission or signing a restricted-patent-license.
- Mia Julia Eley encourages women that are interested in technology and engineering to apply for GNOME's Outreach Program for Women. "Plenty of women out there have skills that could benefit the Free Software movement and the barrier to entry should be clearly understood" she states.
- Paul Boddie reflects about "The Academic Challenge: Ideas, Patents, Openness and Knowledge" and argues why Universities should insist on freedom of knowledge instead of just defending openness of knowledge. Read why there should be no commercialisation of academia and no monopolization of ideas.
- Did you already set up your Fellowship card? If not, you might be interested in a 'How To' which was made by Jens Lechtenbörger to support the already existing Fellowship How to.
- Beside this, Jens Lechtenbörger also explains why, for privacy reasons, Ubuntu users should not update to Ubuntu 12.10 or 13.04, but instead stick with version 12.04 LTS.
- Finally, some fun: Henrik Sandklef shows how to use your calendar for artistic purposes, in this case to illustrate the Fellowship Plussy
Get active: oppose integration of DRM into HTML5
FSFE, FSF and other prominent organisations defending digital freedom have prepared a joint letter to the World Wide Web Consortium and its member organisations urging them to reject the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) proposal. This proposal aims at incorporating support for Digital Restriction Management (DRM) into HTML5 and might become a threat to Free Software users. Please join us in calling on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and its member organizations to reject the Encrypted Media Extensions proposal (EME).