FSFE Newsletter - May 2016
EU jeopardises its goals in standardisation with FRAND licensing
As a part of the Digital Single Market strategy, the European Commission has published the communication on ICT standardisation priorities as one of the key factors in the digital economy. FSFE welcomes the overall approach taken in the communication in favour of more open standards and a greater inclusion of Free Software communities into standardisation processes.
However, the document lacks proper understanding of licensing conditions of standard-essential patents in order to include Free Software into standard setting processes. In particular, FSFE expresses its concerns in regard to the promotion of so-called "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms that in practice are incompatible with Free Software. This way, the document jeopardises every effort set by the European Commission to integrate Free Software communities into standardisation.
European Commission vs Google Android
On April 20, the European Commission outlined its charges in regard to Google's business practices relating to the Android operating system. According to the Commission, Google is abusing its dominant market position by pre-installing and setting Google Search, Google Play Store and Google Chrome as the default on most Android devices sold in Europe. These practices close off ways for competitive search engines to access the market.
FSFE has previously raised its concerns in regard to the claim against the free-of-charge distribution of Android that had been raised to the European Commission by a coalition of certain online service providers who claimed that this practice is harmful to competition. We argued against that claim as it undermines the whole essence of Free Software licensing, and are pleased to see that the Commission disregarded that claim in its antitrust case against Google.
From the community
Guido Arnold, our education team coordinator, summarised legal aspects and possible activities to take, when public schools make MS Office mandatory.
Vitaly Repin published the course by Richard Stallman "On the Road to the Free Digital Society" in Moodle Backup and IMS Common Cartridge formats, and invites everyone to give feedback and promote the course through their channels.
Since Let’s Encrypt has left beta testing, Michal Nazarewicz uses and promotes this new certificate authority which provides free TLS certificates: "If you're running your own server there's no excuse not to use TLS".
What else have we done?
We ran the eighth annual election for a Fellowship representative who is to represent our community and the FSFE's Fellowship in FSFE's general assembly. Although we only had one candidate, we would like to thank and congratulate Mirko Boehm to run for the office and being elected.
We now have over 30 organisations and companies who joined us in proposing measures to EU institutions and EU member states to avoid negative implications on users' rights and Free Software imposed by the EU Radio Equipment Directive 2014/53/EU, aka 'Radio Lockdown Directive'. The joint statement is open to new signatures against negative implications that the 'Radio Lockdown Directive' poses on software freedom, users' rights, fair competition, innovation, environment, and volunteering.
FSFE also joined a coalition of organisations that fight the negative implementations of the 'Radio Lockdown Directive' in France. Together, we signed an open letter to the French government and French Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ART) to ensure that the implementation of the 'Radio Lockdown Directive' in France will not harm Free Software.
On our way to become more transparent and inclusive, we published our transparency commitment in line with the guidelines from Transparency International Germany.
A lot of our initial structure and founding documents have not been updated ever since the FSFE grew from being a small circle of volunteers into an organisation with hired staff, with a Fellowship program and a community of thousands of people. We now begun to revise our "Self Conception", to better reflect our grown decision-making process. Jonas Öberg, FSFE's executive director, shared his thoughts on and insights about potential future steps to FSFE's structure and membership on his blog.
On the backend of our work, we have introduced a ticket system built on OTRS. Although at first sight not many people seem to be directly affected by this, our whole communication will profit over time from higher control of our workflow. Also, it shall be opened to be used by volunteers as well.
From 13 - 15 April, FSFE's annual legal licensing workshop LLW took place in Barcelona, Spain. The event is dedicated to gather legal practitioners from all over the world to dicuss the most challenging issues in and around Free Software licensing. This year it had a record number of participants, showing the increasing interest and importance of Free Software in software licensing.
From 2 - 4 September, 2016, the first summit of FSFE will take place, an event dedicated to our community. To make it a unique and appealing experience for everyone, we sent out a Call for Participation last week to all our Fellows and on our mailing lists. Take your chance and be part of FSFE's main event in 2016 by becoming a speaker or a volunteer, by hosting a workshop or another event.
Good Free Software news
Spain's Ministry of Finance and Public Administrations published its web-based solution for archiving electronic files under a Free Software license. France is also not lagging behind and recently published the source code of the fiscal calculator used by the French fiscal administration to calculate the income taxes of individuals in France. This was an outcome of the legal case in Paris' administrative court that concluded that a source code of a software written by and for public authorities can be considered as a public information that can be freely accessed.
your editors Polina Malaja and Erik Albers, FSFE