Information about the Free Software Foundation Europe

Peter Gerwinski peter at
Thu Nov 30 16:44:59 UTC 2000

Hi, GNUs!

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

Transparency is one side - an important one.  Another important one
is stability:  It must be absolutely impossible for people not
understanding free software to undermine or to block our
organization.  I have seen too many "e.V."s (German: "registered
association"s) dying from bureaucracy.  An FSF Europe OTOH must be

> > 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?

We must obtain the charitable status everywhere in Europe.
Unfortunately, the legal situation in the European countries is not
uniform enough to allow this with a single central organization.

> > As to which countries will be approached first we cannot say right
> > now.
> On what does it depend?

One aspect is the legal one.  It has to be carefully checked out
which type of organization is the most appropriate one for this

Another one is the personal one:  If we do not find someone with
enough personal commitment for free software in a specific country,
then that country must be postponed.

> 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.

That's what these mailing lists are for. :-)

> 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.
> [...]
> 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.

It is important that everyone is heared and can contribute, but we
must be very careful with this.  There are far more promoters of
"Open Source" around (or of proprietary software, for that matter)
than people who have really understood Free Software.  When it comes
to elections - who do you think will get more popularity?

> And of course you'd
> want to know us better in order to learn who of us is qualified for a
> certain job.

Exactly.  As Georg wrote, we want to build the mutual trust that is
neccessary for such a big project.

> 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 ;-)

Everyone, including myself, is a potential destroyer of the
Free Software Philosophy _and_ a potential helper.  (That's what
"potential" stands for.;-)

(Yes, I am paranoid.  But am I paranoid enough?  <umguck> ;-)

> 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! :-)

Hmm... we are here because we want to found an organization
to promote Free Software, where "free" stands for "freedom".
IMHO this indicates that our liberal attitude is at least noti
the weakest one ... ;-)

Discussing legal suff with lawyers has led to the GNU GPL in
contrast to, say, the X11 license.  What we need for the FSF Europe
is the stability of the GNU GPL.

Happy hacking,


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