Is there any hope for FSFE?

Paul Boddie paul at
Fri May 3 21:08:53 UTC 2019

On Friday 3. May 2019 22.00.24 Reinhard Müller wrote:
> Dear Paul,
> thank you for your verbose reply.

You're welcome!

> Am 03.05.19 um 18:00 schrieb Paul Boddie:
> >> Am 03.05.19 um 13:48 schrieb Besnik Bleta:
> >>> we give the money to lawyers who "helped" us
> >>> "safeguard" Free Software through Copyright Directive, right?
> >> 
> >> what exactly do you refer to in this sentence? If FSFE spends money on
> >> something, I'm usually among the first ones to know, but I have no idea
> >> what you mean.
> > 
> > I think that there are concerns that the FSFE has not exactly safeguarded
> > the interests of individual members and Free Software initiatives
> You are probably right that whether a specific strategy in a political
> process was optimal can always be questioned. But that's a different
> discussion, and other people within FSFE can better speak about that
> than myself.

It is possibly the more interesting discussion from my perspective, but I can 
understand that your perspective may be different.

> Besnik claimed that FSFE gave money (even "the money") to lawyers in the
> course of that activity. This is an allegation for which I would request
> information about on what it is based.

I might also add that various campaigns tend to involve some kind of 
expenditure in order to get work done. Although you in your role within the 
FSFE might have knowledge of the precise expenditure yourself, others must 
deduce where the money may have been directed: staff salaries and campaign 
contributor expenses, purchases from suppliers of printed materials and 
merchandise, and so on.

It isn't too big a stretch of the imagination that if legal advice features in 
a campaign, this advice is potentially purchased. I seem to remember another 
organisation whose costs for legal consultations were explicitly noted in the 
fundraising messages I received for various campaigns.

One can easily be cynical and express a view that even where fundamental 
rights and freedoms are involved, some people still demand to be paid to care 
about such causes. Meanwhile, others are requested to pitch in for free or 
even pay for the privilege. With Free Software organisations, it often seems 
to be the supporters who are making the real sacrifices for the benefit of 
those organisations.

For instance, in another organisation, I have seen the consequences of paid 
work being commissioned, delivered and the less-than-satisfactory result left 
to unpaid supporters to fix and maintain: a double burden on those supporters. 
I don't begrudge anyone who is wanting to be treated fairly the chance to be 
paid for valuable work, but then I don't think that the result of should work 
should be beyond criticism, if this is justified, either.

Anyway, this is how the "allegation" of paying lawyers money (shocking as this 
may seem) can innocently come about, together with some indication of why 
people might care about such a thing to begin with.


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