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FSFE Newsletter - October 2015

Written by  on  

FSFE elections and other news from Bucharest

At this year's General Assembly in Bucharest, the FSFE elected a new leadership team for the next two years. Reinhard Müller will continue his role as Financial Officer while your editor will assume the role as President, with Alessandro Rubini filling in as Vice-President. Alessandro is an electronic engineer working on device drivers and embedded systems. He was one of the first members of the FSFE and recently joined again to support us in our work. The FSFE's former President, Karsten Gerloff welcomed the change and wrote about his future steps.

The city of Bucharest was already warming up to Free Software several weeks before the FSFE's arrival, as Romanian public administrations were invited by Rogentos Linux User Group to test out two GNU/Linux-distributions. This is a first step towards more awareness for software freedom in the country's public administration. After the General Assembly, we discussed this news and further collaboration with Free Software contributors from Romania, especially with our friends from Fundația Ceata, the Romanian foundation for Free Software and Free Culture. We found out that they are looking for skilled designers to contribute their ideas for a new logo for the foundation. So any graphic artists out there who are willing to flex their muscles for a good cause can find more information on their call for submissions page.

In July, the European Parliament adopted its recommendations for copyright reform initially drafted by MEP Julia Reda, and the FSFE released its assessment of the final report that was approved in the Parliament after considerable amount of amendments. While some improvements exist in the Parliament's final report over current legislation, there are enough problems that it should be reconsidered, especially in regards to Free Software. In particular, the report fails to adequately address Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) that can still hinder the use of works that fall under copyright exceptions, and it does not provide a possibility for software developers to contribute their works directly to the public domain.

In the next step, the Commission will publish their proposal on copyright reform sometime before the end of 2015. We ask the Commission to take the copyright reform even further and ensure that no exception to copyright should be ever limited by technological restrictions, to provide for a fully harmonised set of exceptions, and to publish all works that are publicly funded under a Free Software licence.

Tidying up PDFreaders

While wrapping up our PDFreaders campaign it is worthy to highlight a few success stories in particular. Our German Coordinator, Max Mehl, blogged about the success of the campaign in German government. In fact, the campaign was so successful, the German "Migration Guide" now includes a titbit about us, saying "If PDF documents are provided publicly authorities shall no longer only recommend Adobe Acrobat Reader for displaying them, but for example use the HTML templates provided by the FSFE on their websites for downloading alternative PDF readers", as well as recommending officials to expand to Free Software as viable alternatives.

The FSFE helped to bring out the best in Free Software PDF readers for the private sector as well. Our very own Polina Malaja was able to catch up with our former PDFreaders campaign coordinator, Hannes Hauswedell, about his conversation with Google back in 2011 about releasing Pdfium software as Free Software. Finally in 2014, Hannes's request came to fruition. Now, we are not saying our campaign caused the Pdfium release, but we would like to think our campaign played a part in it.

Something completely different

Get Active: Nominate people and projects for the Free Software Award

Often users do not realise that they are using Free Software. Sometimes we need to explicitly state that fact. For instance the new upgrade of WordPress includes a tab with a reference to the GNU General Public License and the four freedoms of Free Software, explicitly informing the Wordpress community about the importance of freedom underlying their software.

However, very often a lot of amazing Free Software developers and projects out there do not get the recognition they deserve. Right now the FSF is accepting nominations for the 18th annual Free Software Awards for people and projects who have improved the world using Free Software. There are two awards, one for people who have advanced the movement, and another for a project that has fulfilled a crucial societal need through the use of Free Software. Please submit your nominations until 1 November.

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