The FSF Europe recommends: avoid SourceForge

Georg C. F. Greve greve at
Wed Nov 14 11:16:39 UTC 2001

 || On Tue, 13 Nov 2001 22:51:05 +0000
 || MJ Ray <markj at> wrote: 

 mr> So FSFE doesn't know what its members are doing?  

We don't strictly control every single step someone is taking, we
trust each other enough to feel this is not necessary.

 mr> Aren't you keeping track of your publicity activities, even if
 mr> only to avoid duplication?

Most of the tickers get their information off our mailing lists - of
course we only post it there once. Loic apparently felt pretty safe
that noone else would post it on LinuxFR and it seems he was right.

 >> We then tried to resolve these issues with SourceForge by talking
 >> to them, but after initially offering to solve the problems, they
 >> created their "you give us all rights, we make no promises"
 >> copyright assignment and ended the discussion.

 mr> Does the FSF make similar requests for people who work on its
 mr> projects?


We do ask for copyright assignments for single projects because this
enables us to defend Free Software and keep it maintainable even if
the original author is nowhere to be found, but at the same time we
make it clear that these assignments will not be abused to further
proprietary software.

The FSF is not a company, which makes for a profound difference: our
primary goal is to further, protect and secure Free Software and the
Free Software community.

The primary goal of a company is to make money.

So if a company asks for a copyright assignment that goes way beyond
what the FSF asks for without giving any sort of information or
guarantees about their motives, this is indeed reason enough to raise

 mr> If this request is unacceptable, why not create an alternative,
 mr> rather than publishing a criticism of sourceforge?  

This is what we did with savannah. 

We are permanently working on the vision of Free Software, striving to
bring it forward. Also the GNU Project is working on improving the
hosting facilities and working on projects around the hosting facility
service - Loic happens to be one of the people involved in them.

But besides working on providing new alternatives, we also criticise
behaviour that is prone to take away the freedom we have earned
ourselves in the past couple of years.

 >> Given the amount of discussion this has triggered, I guess there
 >> is noone who hasn't heard about it by now, so at least some
 >> awareness may have been created.

 mr> Don't you think that rather a lot of bad feeling towards FSFE has
 mr> been created by this publication?  


But this is not the question that should govern our actions. Instead
of asking ourselves "will people like us if we say something" we will
ask ourselves "is it necessary to say this?"

 mr> Yes, Patrick seems to be a pragmatist and ignores all
 mr> philosophical/ ideological questions.  (Some of you know that I
 mr> view pragmatists as extremely dangerous.)

This is not an issue of pragmatism although Mr McGovern would like to
make you believe it was.

In a sense, the FSF is highly pragmatic, we only try to think about
the long-term effects of something while most people tend to ignore
them for short-term benefits. 

Patrick McGovern sprinkled some "SourceForge loyalty" dust into the
readers eye and ignored all questions regarding the increasingly
proprietary nature of SourceForge, the copyright assignment, the
future plans or the code base.

None of this is philosophical or ideological.

If you read very carefully, you will even find that although he writes
"Loic brings up a number of points that are simply not accurate" he
actually does not contradict anything Loic said.

 >> In this case we realized that the legal base and future plans of
 >> SourceForge had become so unclear that we could only recommend to
 >> use alternative services.

 mr> What alternatives?  

Even if alternatives like savannah,, and
others do not offer quite the same functionality that SourceForge
offers, they are usable and exist. 

 mr> I ask again: will FSFE support, even if only by name and deeds, a
 mr> project like CoopX?  I believe it offers the best hope for a
 mr> smooth transition from the current reality of sourceforge-based
 mr> sites to the next generation of hosting services.

CoopX does indeed look like a very useful project. I believe that is
why the GNU Project is one of the protagonists working on it. In fact
I believe it may be possible that Loic is already involved in it (I'd
have to search through my archives to make sure).

What kind of help beyond this do you want or need? 


Georg C. F. Greve                                 <greve at>
Free Software Foundation Europe	                 (
GNU Business Network                        (
Brave GNU World	                           (
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