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FSFE Newsletter - July 2013

In Court: Defending our Freedoms with Copyleft

"To protect your rights, we need to prevent others from denying you these rights or asking you to surrender the rights. Therefore, you have certain responsibilities if you distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it: responsibilities to respect the freedom of others." (Praemble of the GNU GPL)

Unfortunately sometimes companies forget their responsibility when using Free Software in their products. Someone has to make sure that companies are reminded from time to time. That's what we do with our compliance work. After our volunteers found a GNU GPL violation in a workshop in May 2012, we handed all the evidence to Harald Welte from gpl-violations.org and his lawyers. They processed the case and we were now informed that we won the case.

EU's public bodies wasting 1.1 billion Euro every year

This month the European Commission published a Communication titled "Against lock-in" (see FSFE's comments.) The European Commission urges public bodies to break free from vendor lock-in in their IT systems by relying on standards rather than brand names and proprietary technology. Besides the Communication highlights that public bodies unnecessarily spend 1.1 billion Euro every year because they do not allow more competition among their suppliers. The Commission cites studies saying that 16% of public procurement make reference to brand names. In most of the cases those brand names are the names of non-free software companies.

Implementing Open Standard policies is hard work but is necessary to ensure that Free Software companies can compete on an equal basis. We criticised the EC before and will continue to remind them that Open Standard policies only have value if they are really implemented.

NSA: 24 hours video surveillance with Xbox One?

Faced with user protests, Microsoft has been forced to make the terms for its latest Xbox gaming console look a little less restrictive. However, the “new” terms which had caused such outrage were not in fact new at all: they were similar to most other proprietary software licences, including those covering other Microsoft software products and on-line services. Anna Morris created a graphic about it.

Also on surveillance: twelve years ago the European Parliament called upon the Commission and public bodies across Europe to help citizens and companies protect themselves from surveillance. Free Software played a crucial part there. Unfortunately the EC did not implement them.

After the leaks from intelligence services, some of your friends might now understand much better what you talked about when you explained them why you do not use Skype, Facebook, Xbox One, or others. They might now understand why it is important to be in control of your device and your data. Erik Albers wrote an article about ownership, remote control and privacy, and in connection with Xbox One ask how many people would visit a home when there would be a sticker saying “This flat is under 24h surveillance by Microsoft and the NSA”.

Something completely different

Get active: Post us Good Free Software News

Often the news we spread contain negative developments, topics where we need attention to fix a problem. Fellow Chris "cw" wants to pay more attention to the good news about Free Software. The idea is to publish good news on a dedicated wiki page.

E.g. this month a city in Portugal wrote about their success with Free Software and Italy's South Tyrol starts three-year LibreOffice migration.

You can either publish them there on your own, just subscribe to RSS, distribute the news with the hashtag #GoodFSNews, or send Chris an e-mail with the news, and he will act as your proxy.

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

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