FSFE Newsletter - September 2017
Public Money? Public Code!
Digital services offered and used by our public administrations are part of the critical infrastructure of 21st century democratic nations. Due to restrictive software licences, however, many public bodies do not have full control over their digital infrastructure. Although publishing publicly funded software under a free licence generates great benefits for governments and civil society, policy makers are still reluctant to improve legislation in this area. It is time to change this. At the FSFE, we want European legislation requiring that publicly financed software developed for public sector must be made publicly available under a Free and Open Source Software licence. If it is public money, it should be public code as well!
To push our demand, the FSFE launched a new campaign last week: "Public Money Public Code". The campaign explains the benefits of releasing publicly funded Software under free licences with a short inspiring video and an open letter to sign. Furthermore, the campaign and the open letter will be used in the coming months until the European Parliament election in 2019 to highlight good and bad examples of publicly funded software development and its potential reuse.
Initial success was overwhelming. The campaign launch was covered by many websites and news magazines over Europe. At the time of writing, the Open Letter is already signed by more than 35 organisations and more than 5000 individuals. Various politicians and other prominent people have publicly announced their support of the campaign, including Edward Snowden, President of Freedom of the Press Foundation:
"Public money shouldn't write software the public isn't allowed to fix. Sign the letter, save the world: https://publiccode.eu/#action #PublicCode"
Support public code as well and sign the open letter here: https://publiccode.eu/#action
FSFE publishes Software Licensing Best Practices
If you want others to be able to use your code, you have to include a licence, and as a best practice you should do so in a way which can be understood by humans and computers alike. Unfortunately, endless software projects and code snippets are available in the open but still lack a proper licence. One potential reason is that attaching a licence to software - properly and in a way that is understandable - can be challenging. Making sure computers understand your licence is even more difficult.
That is why the FSFE has begun our work to make managing copyrights and licences in free and open source software easier. Our Software Licensing Best Practices guide will help you include license and copyright notices correctly in your software. And as we keep evaluating best practices, under https://reuse.software/ you will already find a few simple steps to take to make the copyright and licence of your project more easily understood.
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What else have we done? Inside and Outside the FSFE
- The proposed European Copyright Directive restricts the rights of developers and internet users, creating barriers for the development of source code. Together with Open Forum Europe, the FSFE wrote a white paper to help people understand the full view of the matter at stake from a software developer point of view. We will launch a campaign later this month but you can already help us to raise awareness by sharing Save Code Share widely.
- The FSFE's executive director, Jonas Öberg, published a blog post about the yearly FSFE budget, how our finances are structured, and where the money goes.
- The "Koalition Freies Wissen" ("Free Knowledge Coalition") created the "Digital-O-Mat", an online tool for voter information for the German federal elections on September 24th, 2017. The Digital-O-Mat (German) highlights the parties' positions on topics relavant to internet policy like Free Software and helps voters find their most matching party for the election to the German parliament.
- The FSFE country team Germany sent "Ask Your Candidates" questions to participating parties of the Bundestagswahl (the German federal elections) and published and analysed their answers. (German)
- The FSFE country team Netherlands was present with a village at SHA Camp, a non-profit hacker-camp in the Netherlands. For five days, this village offered a public space to discuss, meet, hack, sing-along, and find shelter. The FSFE had its own curated track and the village offered multiple self-organized sessions, from a Free Software Song choir to a FreedomBox install fest.
- The FSFE country team Greece supported the first edition of Re:publica in Thessaloniki, a conference about digital culture.
- The FSFE group Rhein/Main was present with a booth at Froscon, at the Free Software conference at the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, Germany. FSFE president Matthias Kirschner also gave a talk about "Limux: das Ende eines Leuchtturm-Projekts!?". (German)
- In April this year, the Digital Society Institute hosted a workshop to analyse "How secure is free software? Security record of open source and free software." The workshop included contributions from Matthias Kirschner and is now available in English and German including recommendations for the private and public sector.
- We are happy to welcome three new interns: Carmen Bianca Bakker, Kristi Progri and Erik Da Silva. If you are interested in doing an internship with us, find more information on our pages.
- We have a new item in the FSFE online shop: a non-binary pink bib with the slogan "I am a fork" stitched onto the bib. Organic and fair trade.
Do not miss it! Upcoming events with the FSFE
CopyCamp in Warsaw will be happening on 28 - 29 of September. CopyCamp is a conference that focuses on the question of how exclusive immaterial rights affect culture, education, science, technology, and Free Software. Matthias Kirschner will speak about "Limux: the loss of a lighthouse" and our policy analyst Polina Malaja about the upcoming "EU copyright reform and its implications for collaborative software development." The conference has no admission fee, but participants are asked to register before attending. Thanks to the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, there are travel grants available for German residents (not only citizens), funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Have a look at our "Public Money Public Code" page and the PMPC video and share it with your friends, colleagues, and favorite mailing lists. Also ask them to sign the open letter and do this yourself. If the page is not available in your language, help us with translations.
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Thanks to our community, all the volunteers, supporters and donors who make our work possible. And thanks to our translators, who enable our readers to read this newsletter in their mother tongue.
Help us grow and make a difference in 2017