FSFE Newsletter - July 2010

Free Software Foundation Europe press at fsfeurope.org
Sun Jul 4 09:14:48 UTC 2010

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= FSFE Newsletter - July 2010 =

[Permanent URL: http://www.fsfe.org/news/nl/nl-201007.en.html ]
This edition covers Neelie Kroes' statement about Open Standards, the
Free Software discussion in Saxony (Germany), and the relicensing of
WebM to be GPL compatible, and asks you all to keep in touch with your
politicians about Free Software issues.

Beside that, FSFE's strategic decision making body, the General Assembly
[1] (GA) , met in Bozen, Italy.  The various outcomes of this meeting
will become apparent in the next months and years. On the operational
side we organised Fellowship meetings [2] in Tampere (Finland), Göteburg
(Sweden), Paris, Lille (France), Berlin, Düsseldorf, Siegen, (Germany),
as well as a Fellowship jabber meeting about ACTA. Stian published a new
Fellowship interview with David Reyes Samblas Martinez [3], in which he
answers questions on hardware manufacturing, e-learning and Free
Software politics.

== "Proprietary technology is a waste of money" ==

No, this is not a quote from someone out of the Free Software community.
As Karsten reported in his article [4] it was Neelie Kroes, European
Commission’s vice president, who comment at the Open Forum Europe (OFE)
meeting in Brussels on 10 June. She also said that:

  "Many authorities have found themselves unintentionally locked into
  proprietary technology for decades. After a certain point that
  original choice becomes so ingrained that alternatives risk being
  systematically ignored, no matter what the potential benefits. This is
  a waste of public money that most public bodies can no longer afford."

Kroes also backed up our definition of Open Standards [5]. She made
clear that "truly open" standards "do not come with any constraints for
implementers". This is important as it means that programmers can
implement a standard in Free Software; Microsoft and others have been
trying to convince the Commission that a standard is "open" even if it
cannot be implemented in Free Software.  These developments are good
news - please share them!

== "Free" State of Saxony argues against Free Software ==

Already in May German politicians had a discussion about Free Software
in the Free State of Saxony's state parliament. I (Matthias) published
an analysis about this discussion [6] (in German). The state government
talks about strategic reasons against Free Software, but does not name
any of them. The CDU and the FDP say they do not want to influence the
market. On the other hand the state government educates all their pupils
with software from a monopolist and advertises Adobe's proprietary
software on their websites. In their tenders they do not ask for Free
Software, but complain that there are too few Free Software service
providers and programs. Beside that they use the term "market standards"
against Free Software.

That such discussions happen in parliament are a very good sign. They
mean that politicians have to think about Free Software, and that we can
all enter discussion with politicians about Free Software, too. That is
why we asked people from Saxony to send their politicians feedback on
the discussion, and to write them what they liked about the discussion
and ask questions like ‘when politicians talk about strategic reasons
against Free Software, what are these reasons?’. The speech by Neelie
Kroes quoted above is also something that you can point politicians to.

== Free Video Formats / Software licenses ==

In May, Google updated the license for their WebM project [7] to make it
GPL-compatible. As explained in the last issue [8] WebM is important so
users do not have to install the non-free flash plugins anymore, but
have a free video format to play and encode videos.

WebM was already Free Software, as the rightsholders stated in the
licence that users have the freedom to use, study, share, and improve
it. The problem was that its license was not compatible with the GNU
General Public License (GPL) [9].

There are a lot of Free Software licenses [10], but the GNU GPL is the
most famous Free Software copyleft license and is used by a large
percentage of Free Software. It ensures the four freedoms and adds the
condition that those freedoms remain intact in further distribution of
the software.

If people use the same licence or at least GPL-compatible licences, then
programmers can exchange code freely, and easily, so programmers do not
have to reinvent the wheel again but can use already existing code. That
is why it is so important that programmers use the GNU AGPL [11], GPL,
LGPL [12], or a compatible Free Software license for their software.
There is also an article by David Wheeler which is worth reading, why
you should make your software GPL compatible [13], like WebM does now.

== Get active: Give your politicians continuous feedback ==

Our mission is to explain the concept of Free Software to as many people
as possible. This month the German team had a booth at the GNU/Linuxtag
in Berlin and explained Free Software to all the different visitors,
gave interviews and speeches about "Freedom in the cloud" and common
misunderstandings about Free Software. Depending on the audience you
should use slightly modified explanations. To support Free Software
supporters, we are providing links to video [14] and audio [15] files,
as well as transcripts of speeches [16]. 

As Fellow [17] you automatically have an account there, but you can just
register for a guest account [18] and help us to make those pages a good
resource for people who want to learn from others how to best explain
the benefits of software freedom.

Matthias Kirschner - FSFE

  1. http://www.fsfe.org/about/members.en.html
  2. http://wiki.fsfe.org/FellowshipEvents
  3. http://blogs.fsfe.org/fellowship-interviews/david-reyes-samblas-martinez/
  4. http://blogs.fsfe.org/gerloff/?p=359
  5. http://www.fsfe.org/projects/os/def.en.html
  6. http://blogs.fsfe.org/mk/?p=589
  7. http://www.fsf.org/blogs/licensing/googles-updated-webm-license
  8. http://www.fsfe.org/news/nl/nl-201006.en.html
  9. http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl.html
  10. http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/
  11. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl.html
  12. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.html
  13. http://www.dwheeler.com/essays/gpl-compatible.html
  14. http://wiki.fsfe.org/Video
  15. http://wiki.fsfe.org/Audio
  16. http://wiki.fsfe.org/Transcripts
  17. http://fellowship.fsfe.org
  18. http://wiki.fsfe.org/UserGuide?action=newaccount

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