On the questions about goals raised by E L Tonkin
Georg C. F. Greve
greve at gnu.org
Fri May 11 20:05:48 UTC 2001
|| On Wed, 9 May 2001 18:33:28 +0100 (BST)
|| E L Tonkin <py7elt at bath.ac.uk> wrote:
elt> Otherwise, I'd rather see a bunch of annoyed answers leading to
elt> a six-week thread war, than I would a sort of stunned
elt> silence... Or have we elsewhere, previously, discussed the
elt> points that came up?
Parts of it have been discussed, but it doesn't matter.
It is true that we have been stunned into silence a bit, but this was
mostly due to a complete overload... each of us handles a lot of mail
normally already and adding 40k a day to that is somewhat tough.
Still nothing has been forgotten or not been seen and I'll try to
answer some of these questions now.
I could probably say that we indeed plan to do all the things you were
listing and these were several of the reasons why we feel the FSF
Europe is needed, but I'll try to answer them in detail... :)
elt> Stuff like
elt> * what /are/ the short-term aims of the fsfe? Establishing GPL
elt> for each country, first? Then what?
Yes, making the GPL more bullet-proof for each European country and
keeping it that way is one of our tasks.
elt> * What about long-term aims?
In the very long run we want to change the system in a way that it'll
work in favor of free software and to ensure the existance of free
elt> * Is the FSFE structure good enough? What's wrong with it? What
elt> do we need to fix? What about the sub-FSF chapters? Do geeks
elt> really fit into a hierarchy? (hint: no)
We believe the structure we have found is actually very good and so
far we haven't seen anything that would promise better
results. Anarchy may work on a small level in some cases (and it is
definitely preferrable there), but for something as big as a
Europe-wide movement, a structure is needed.
More about this in different post.
elt> * Policy on finances, financial gain, industry freebies...
Well. As a charitable organization according to German law we are
forbidden to make a profit from the FSF Europe ourselves. We can earn
money for the FSF Europe, but that money *has* to be used to further
the goals of Free Software *only*.
elt> * Exact structure of the FSFE, granted that those in power have
elt> absolute authority. How 'reachable' an organisation should the
elt> FSFE be? What do you do if you have this Great Idea you want to
elt> put before them? The FSFE need to listen, or they'll end up out
elt> of touch...
Absolutely. The reason why we created all these interfaces into the
FSF Europe is that we want people to take part and be
involved. Currently I'm not aware of any other organization above the
local level that discusses its internals as openly as the FSF Europe
elt> * What about your average idiot, who thinks Windows is
elt> complicated? I am sorry to say it, but we've been working on it
elt> for several years and we STILL don't have a version of GNU/Linux
elt> that installs and /does stuff/ painlessly. Is that an FSF(E)
elt> problem? Do we care about Software For Your Average Idiot? or do
elt> we tell them to go hang?... or do we grit our teeth, take a copy
elt> of The Inmates Are Running The Asylum, and work out what they
elt> /do/ need?
If someone had a concrete idea how to make free software easier to
use/install or how to get it spread more effectively, helping this
(whichever way help would be needed) would be a task of the FSF
Europe, yes. Also we might try to start such a project... it very much
depends on the single case.
But in general it can be said that this would be an area of the FSF
elt> * Directing software development. IMHO the things that GNU/Linux
elt> currently needs ought to be defined, decided upon, and
elt> integrated into Debian or whatever. No doubt Debian think this
elt> too, and are busy doing it. Is this at all a FSF(E) problem?
Yes. Although we of course can't and don't want to tell Debian what to
do, we'll definitely try to develop the technical vision beyond what
we have today.
elt> * What about community? Does the FSFE have interest in getting
elt> into establishing any LUG-style initiatives?
Probably more like "GNU User Groups," but yes. Where no suitable
associated organization (see posting about structure) exists, we'll
help the locals creating it. If there are already established
well-working organizations, this would probably be waste of time.
elt> * If the free software community, what about trade union stuff,
elt> people being forced to sign NDAs then getting hobbled by them in
elt> their free software work? What about working out reasonable NDAs
elt> in the spirit of the GPL? (NDA==Non Disclosure Agreement)
Good idea. Yeah, this would *definitely* be a thing to do for the FSFE.
elt> * How about tracking evil DMCA-style laws in each country?
elt> That's an FSFE issue. Who does it? What do you do if you want to
elt> contribute info?
The legal aspect is very important. We expect to spend a reasonable
part of our money on legal fees, because if we miss what's going on,
free software might be illegal tomorrow.
An example: in Germany a professor wanted to stop the evil record
companies from ripping off young musicians. So he proposed a law that
would *forbid* to give away copyrighted material without proper
compensation. Since free software is (according to German law) a gift,
it would become illegal then.
The professor and the politicians hadn't even *thought* about free
software when thinking about this, but hadn't we been working closely
together with some lawyers and started raising the point, we might
have found ourselves in a BAD situation soon.
Together with the lawyers we have suggested a change that'll make an
exception for free software and it looks favorable right now... so
everything is under control.
But keeping an eye out for that sort of thing is *definitely* a task
of the FSF Europe.
elt> * To repeat myself once more, what about the whole damn woman
elt> issue? (And /be/ political, people, would you? This is a
elt> discussion list. If you think it's all a non-issue, say so)
What about it? We'd be happy to see more females involved in
software. We haven't planned anything to this extent but it might be
possibly that we'll try to encourage it at some point.
elt> * What about stuff like legal defence, patents, all that? Does
elt> the FSFE get into all that? How much?
See above. Yes, we are definitely getting into this, because this is
one of the areas where you need a recognized organization that people
take seriously. The FSF Europe will try to provide that.
elt> * How about stuff like DVD regionality, and blah? Would the FSFE
elt> consider working out which countries having region-free DVD is
elt> legal in, to be part of their job? True, it's hardware, but it's
elt> ABOUT the freedom of individuals, and DeCSS is about software. I
elt> consider this to be a place that /somebody/ has to work in, if
elt> the word 'free' is to continue having meaning.
If we have a good idea how to approach this, we'd definitely get
elt> I noticed earlier that somebody has a .sig file asking what
elt> they'll do when their child asks them where they were when
elt> freedom of speech was taken away from the Internet. Well, that
elt> day is more or less here. Idiot companies are verging on the
elt> side of total corporate paranoia, attempting control of every
elt> media file out there. True, they won't stop the determined,
Exactly. And we decided we want to tell our children: "We organized
ourselves to work against it and tell people with a unified voice that
we will not accept this!"
Georg C. F. Greve <greve at gnu.org>
Free Software Foundation Europe (http://fsfeurope.org)
Brave GNU World (http://brave-gnu-world.org)
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