Upcycling of software +++ FSFE Translators +++ Router Freedom at risk in Latvia
In our November Newsletter learn why device neutrality and upcycling of software are essential to make (re-)using our hardware more resource-efficient. Read about the key role translators play in the FSFE and about the loss of Router Freedom in Latvia. Watch a new video on Free Software core values, and follow our community events.
Free Software helps extending hardware lifespans
In the European Union we currently see a strong desire to make digitisation more sustainable, with the European Commission aiming at making our product lifecycles more resource-efficient as well as making circular economy methods applicable. Technological devices should be designed in a way that they last for a longer period of time. The Circular Electronics Initiative recognises that a common issue is that manufacturers stop updating the software of a device and then the user of the device has to buy a new one. A solution that gains ground in the Circular Electronics Initiative is that manufacturers of smartphones and tablets should provide security updates for five years and function updates for three years free of charge.
In an in-depth study, the FSFE explains that publishing the source code after the end of support is a more effective way to extend the lifespan of devices than relying exclusively on the manufacturers' extended support. If manufacturers publish a device's underlying source code under a Free Software licence at the end of support, the software of the device can be modified. This way, the device can still be used and its hardware gets a second life. Reusing software can help steer the European digitisation from a market of linear hardware production towards circular electronics devices. We are asking for truly opening up the circular reuse of electronics by enabling an upcycling of software. For a critical, long-lasting, and sustainable change in the extension of our hardware usage lifetimes, however, products need to be designed with device neutrality in mind from the beginning.
The key role of translators
Translators empower people to learn about Free Software in various languages. Since the founding of the organisation in 2001, the translators team has been an integral part of the FSFE. Today we have over 280 members on the translators mailing list, helping us in their spare time to translate for software freedom. We have 40 languages represented on our web page, with almost 7,000 translations.
"I love translating items about Free Software mainly because I love Free Software and I want that all Italian people could easily know the benefits of Free Software in their own language. As a side effect, since the translation process usually involves more than one person, I'm also learning more about English and Italian too!" says Luca Bonissi, Deputy Translators Coordinator.
Regulation in Latvia takes away Router Freedom
Latvia has created a risky precedent against end-users' rights by allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the use of personal routers and modems based on "technological necessities". When the Latvian Regulatory Agency (SPRK) asked for public feedback about the regulation, the FSFE shared its concern and engaged with the regulator. In May 2021, we submitted a consultation explaining to the SPRK that its approach limits Router Freedom and would not comply with European laws. Unfortunately, the regulator decided to keep its position.
ISPs can now deny people the right to use a personal router or modem in Latvia, claiming technological issues. If they do so, they would have to justify on their respective websites why they are restricting Router Freedom. Even so, SPRK still withheld the ability to assess these claims by the ISPs, and they would have a final say on the claimed necessities. Beyond hampering consumer rights, the Latvian situation creates unnecessary friction for a functional and harmonised framework on the terminal equipment market, negatively affecting European router manufacturers and vendors.
No other EU country has identified such technological necessities so far. We encourage, therefore, Latvian consumers to report ISPs' practices in our survey, so we can get data and bring this to the attention of BEREC and the European Commission, and so defend end-user rights.
This year the FSFE celebrates its 20th anniversary. Support our work for the 20 years to come
New video about Free Software values
For our 20 years anniversary this year, we have now released our new video about the values of software freedom. You can watch the three-minute video on our new self-hosted peertube instance in English and German. It is licensed under Creative Commons by Share-Alike, so feel free to share it with others or include it in your websites in order to explain Free Software to a wider audience..
You can also subscribe to our new peertube instance, so you don't miss our upcoming videos.
Public Money? Public Code! Now in Japanese
Code paid for by the people should be available to the people! This demand is said in many languages, and now it is said in Japanese too. After growing increasingly popular, the FSFE's initiative PMPC has had its website and video translated into Japanese as well. The video was done by the same team which created the aforementioned new video about the core values of software freedom.
Now with the Japanese translations, the "Public Money? Public Code!" video is available in 10 languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Japanese.
- On Friday 10 December, time TBC, Lina Ceballos, an FSFE Project Manager, will participate at the GNUHealthCon2021. Lina will take a look at the role that Free Software played in the last crisis and how it could help overcoming future ones, by pointing to the principle of “Public Money? Public Code!" and the role that governments, public bodies, and administrations have in this. More information to be shared on our website soon.
- On Monday, 13 December, at 7pm (CEST), the monthly meeting of the Bonn FSFE Fellowship will take place. The Bonn FSFE Community Meetings are regular meetings which are taking place on every second Monday of the month for supporters of the FSFE or in general people who are interested in Free Software.
- On Monday 13 December at 18:00 CET, Lina Ceballos, an FSFE Project Manager, will host the launching event of our recently translated into Spanish - Public Money? Public Code! brochure. We will discuss the current situation and future challenges for software freedom in Spain. We anticipate the participation of Pica Pica HackLab, GNUHealth, and KDE, and more. This event will be held in Spanish. More information to be shared on our website soon.
- On 20 October, the FSFE Netherlands had its online get-together. Upon the formation of a new Dutch government, the FSFE Netherlands team discussed ways to push the Public Money? Public Code! demand. A discussion on other current topics followed, such as the news of Belgium offering a digital wallet to its citizens.
- On 20 October, Lucas Lasota, FSFE's Deputy Legal Coordinator, organised at the Humboldt University of Berlin a winter seminar on software law, including elements of software licensing, copyright and contract law.
- On 28 October, the Berlin Fellowship Group had its regular meeting (online).
- On 6 November, the FSFE organised the Legal Education Day. It offered a session on the basics of copyright law and an introduction to the concept of copyleft. Useful topics for software developers followed, such as licence compatibility, trademarks, and containers. Our aim is to help Free Software developers to understand these legal topics so that their software projects can reach their full potential.
- On 12 – 13 November, the FSFE participated in the SFSCon by organising a sustainability track and providing three talks. Erik Albers, Programme Manager, defined 4 principles for a sustainable digital society; Max Mehl, Programme Manager, presented REUSE as the gold standard for Free Software licensing; Lucas Lasota, Project Manager, demonstrated our efforts Protecting Router Freedom within the EU reform of telecom law; and Alexander Sander, Policy Consultant, presented Public Money? Public Code! During Corona. Besides that, we had a phone flashing workshop. More about that in our next publications.
Help us translate the new video about the core values of Free Software into more languages, just as we did with the Public Money? Public Code! video. The cost of a professional translation is ~850 EUR, including editing of the script, an external professional speaker, and potential studio costs.
We want to offer our new video in many other languages to help people understand why it is important for society that software grants the freedoms to use, study, share, and improve it. This demand concerns us all as technology users, regardless of the language we speak. You can support our translation effort as well as our other work for Free Software by becoming a supporter.
Contribute to our newsletter
If you would like to share any thoughts, pictures, or news, please send them to us. As always, the address is firstname.lastname@example.org. We're looking forward to hearing from you! If you also want to support us and our work, join our community and support us with a donation or a monthly contribution. Thanks to our community and all the volunteers, supporters, and donors who make our work possible. And thanks to our translators, who enable you to read this newsletter in your native languages.
Your editor, Fani Partsafyllidou