European Consultation +++ 100 days in Munich +++ Open Science Coordinator
In our August Newsletter, we are evaluating reasons why the European Commission should avoid using the term "intellectual property". We also asked the new government in Munich about their progress regarding Free Software, and we introduce our new Open Science Coordinator, Christian Busse. As usual, you can read about our diverse community activities.
EU should reconsider the use of "intellectual property"
The FSFE has published a first feedback to the European Commission's public consultation regarding the update of the "Intellectual Property (IP)" regulatory system. In this feedback, the FSFE expresses to the Commission our understanding that the term "intellectual property" is ideologically charged and dangerously oblivious to the significant differences that exist between the many areas of law that it tries to subsume. In addition, the effect of patent law, copyright and other related areas is to create temporary monopolies that exercise private power over other people. Monopolistic market actors can often benefit from such a structure, at the expense of healthy competition and other benefits for the commons.
In contrast, Free Software regulatory and management models around the world have shown in the past 40 years that allowing the broadest amount of knowledge to be shared in society is a sustainable and more equitable regime to foster societal progress and wealth. The FSFE therefore urges the Commission to use this opportunity to question the outdated notion that expanding monopolies over knowledge would lead to more progress. The Free Software model represents one of the best examples the Commission can take to deepen its understanding on how new models based on knowledge sharing are fundamental for a more innovative, fair, and socially just society.
100 days of a new government in Munich
As reported in our May Newsletter, the coalition agreement of the new Munich government between the SPD and the Greens includes positive statements on the use of Free Software. In particular, it states that the principle "Public Money? Public Code!" should apply in future. 100 days later, together with "The Document Foundation", we asked the two political groups what activities they have undertaken so far to achieve their goals.
In response, the coalition partners confirmed that they are in close talks about a package of proposals that will be discussed in autumn. While there are no plans to return to the prestigious LiMux project, all software that does not contain personal data and is developed by the administration shall be transferred to a public code base. In addition, the employees of the city's public administration will be free to use Free Software products in the future. The FSFE continues to monitor the ongoing implementation in Munich.
New FSFE Open Science Coordinator: Christian Busse
Christian Busse recently joined the FSFE team as our new Open Science Coordinator. In his day job he works as a scientist at the German Cancer Research Center. Open Science is a topic of ever growing importance, and the FSFE calls for Free Software and Open Standards to be considered as a vital part of Open Science for all publicly-funded research in Europe. In his new position, Christian has already given a talk about FAIRness of research software at the annual workshop of the TKFDM (the research data management initiative of the state of Thuringia). If you are interested in forming a working group on the topic of Open Science and Free Software, get in contact with Christian.
The biggest financial impact the FSFE faces in these times of physical distancing is the cancellation of Free Software conferences, including our own events. To keep the software freedom movement solid and alive, please consider donating a part of your conference budget to Free Software organisations, including the FSFE.
What have we done? Inside and outside the FSFE
- Alexander Sander, FSFE EU Policy Manager, together with Basanta Thapa, research associate at the Kompetenzzentrum Öffentliche IT, hosted a session on the use of Free Software, including a presentation of the 'Public Money? Public Code' campaign.
- Matthias Kirschner gave a talk at the remote event of FrOSCon about "The core values of software freedom" (video, German). In his talk, Matthias argues that the core values of our movement are that everybody, no matter their background, must be able to use software for every purpose without discrimination.
- Max Mehl explains the power of git-sed: In the recent weeks and months, the FSFE Web Team has been doing some heavy work on the FSFE website. While they moved and replaced thousands of files and their respective links to improve the structure of a historically grown website (19+ years, 23243 files, almost 39k commits) there was a need for an efficient tool. The web-team found git-sed is really a time and nerve saver when doing mass changes on repositories.
- Erik Albers, together with Anja Höfner from Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie, and Johanna Pohl and Friederike Rohde from the research group 'Digitalization and Sustainability' published an article about the sustainablity of software and hardware in heise, a prominent German tech-zine. Among other things, they ask politicians to apply "Public Money? Public Code!", as well as to introduce an obligatory upcycling of software and a general right to repair.
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