Information about the Free Software Foundation Europe

Armin Herbert Armin.Herbert at
Tue Nov 28 15:16:41 UTC 2000

Hi all,

I felt I had to write a few things that

on Mon, 27. Nov 2000, 15:04 GMT+1, Georg C. F. Greve wrote:

> We are currently having a lawyer evaluate the different legal
> frameworks that exist in Germany to find out which one will suit the
> FSF Europe best. Afterwards it is planned to have this lawyer set up
> the legal documents so we can proceed with the official founding of
> the FSF Europe.

Hm. Can you give us a resumee about what you've been discussing with this 
lawyer? In my opinion this is really important, because I wouldn't like to 
have a non-profit GmbH, for example. I think we and you should guarantee as 
much transparency as possible.

> Once that is done, we will seek legal consultation in other countries
> as to whether a law for charitable organizations exists, and what it
> implies for the local organizations. This will be done in close
> contact with people in those countries who will be founding the local
> organizations.

Did I understand you right? You're planning to engage other people to found 
similar sister organizations of the FSF Europe in European countries? What 
for? Why do you think a central European organization isn't enough?

> As to which countries will be approached first we cannot say right
> now.

On what does it depend?

> Our plans are to work together with local organizations like the FFII,
> AFUL or APRIL. They are doing important work, and we are not planning
> to replace them. Bernhard Reiter is member of the new FFII board and
> we are in contact with people from APRIL and AFUL. Our declared goal
> is to strengthen and unite.

I strongly support this! In my opinion we - the Free Software Community - 
has a strong need for organization, because our "enemies" - large companies 
with strict and narrowing licenses etc - are very very well organized.

> We are currently looking for people in other countries to become part
> of the FSF Europe and we have been contacted by a lot of people so
> far.

Who's that? Why didn't they contact us (this list), instead of you?

I don't want to play the role of the nerved guy, but I feel uncomfortable 
with this. In my opinion, you should hurry to found an organizational basis 
where you can speak out the facts, in order to inform us. Be sure that most 
of us trust you and wait and see what happens next. This makes clear that 
*what* happens next is extremely important. That's why I'd like to see the 
foundation of a democratic organization on top of the priority list.

> The FSF in the U.S. itself is not a "membership organization." It is
> rather an organization of selected individuals that have proven
> themselves to possess a deep understanding of the Free Software
> philosophy and a firm belief in the long-term goals of Free
> Software. It can easily be understood that being a member of such an
> organization requires a relatively high level of commitment.
> As we seek to become the acknowledged sister organization of the FSF,
> we feel that we have to maintain the same level of commitment and
> philosophical awareness of the FSF itself.

Just because the FSF-US has such an organization, we don't need to have it 
too, I can't count this argument.

In Germany it's a general practice to have a basis of members from which a 
couple of guys are elected to hold an office. Of course, as you're the ones 
that did the most for FSF-EU so far (and from what I know from you, you're 
most qualified for it), this guys at first will be you. And of course you'd 
want to know us better in order to learn who of us is qualified for a 
certain job.

My point is: I'd like to see it _this_ way, not the other way round. See us 
as potential helpers, not as potential destroyers of the Free Software 
Philosophy. Resist the influence from your lawyer ;-)

This doesn't mean that you should be less cautious. Perhaps it's *me* who's 
too cautious ;-)
I've just made the experience that discussion legal stuff with lawyers etc 
often destroyes one's liberal attitude. Please don't let this happen to 
you! :-)

> For this reason we would like to get to know everyone who is
> interested in becoming part of the FSF Europe. Of course we have read
> or heard from a lot of the active members of the Free Software
> community before, but this is no substitute for getting to know you
> from personal email and discussions. We therefore ask you to be a
> little patient - talk to us, discuss things with us, let us know your
> personal take on things so we know who we are truly dealing with. At
> the same time this will give you a chance to really get to know us and
> our views and standpoints. Hopefully this will allow us to build the
> mutual trust that is neccessary for such a big project.

I can see in this text that we probably agree in principle :-)

> If you have any specific ideas as to how you might help us now, we
> would be very glad to hear them. Just because we haven't thought of
> it, doesn't mean that we won't consider it a good idea.

I'd surely have some ideas, but I don't know which ones you already had too 

> Judging by the support all of you have given us so far, it seems quite
> likely that together we can build a stronghold for Free Software in
> Europe.

I guess so ;-)


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