[FSFE] FSFE Newsletter June 2010

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Fri Jun 4 11:39:15 CEST 2010

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= FSFE Newsletter - June 2010 =

[ Permanent URL http://www.fsfe.org/news/nl/nl-201006.en.html ]

May was quite busy, for the first time we participated in a big church
event to inform visitors about Free Software. We analysed the European
Commission's Digital Agenda, and there was news about free video

But why are we working on all those things?  Because it is important for
society. Today software is everywhere, in our desktops, laptops, and
mobile phones as well as in cars, trains, TVs, fridges - any complex
device you care to name. Software is not just a tool like a car; it is
everywhere and will become even more important in future. 

Control over software means power. Whoever controls the software decides
what you can and what you cannot do with it. In democracies we separate
and distribute power amongst a lot of different people.  The control of
software as such a powerful tool of our society has to be distributed as
well. If more and more parts of our life are controlled by software, the
software needs to be Free Software. 

This month we received the Theodor Heuss medal for exactly this work for
society. The Theodor Heuss Foundation which awarded the medal is a
non-partisan foundation which carries the name of Germany's first
president. The foundation seeks "to bring attention to something, which
has to be done and shaped in our democracy, without being finished"
(Carl Friedrich v. Weizsäcker, 1965).  The Theodor Heuss prize is given
annually to persons of high standing and organisations which are
groundbreaking in this respect.

This award gives Free Software supporters recognition outside the usual
software scene. It shows that a well-known political foundation agrees
that Free Software is good for our society and that FSFE is doing a good
job. This is a door-opener to reach a broader audience in feature,
especially politicians.  At the ceremony and the day before at the
workshop Bernhard Reiter, Björn Schießle, Georg Greve, Karsten Gerloff,
other Fellows and I myself had good discussions with a lot of political
interested persons with different backgrounds (see [1] [2] [3]).

*Enlarging the audience* Speaking about a broader audience, for the
first first time we participated at the ecumenical church day in Munich,
Germany. While we have given talks at church events before to explain
the values of Free Software, it was the completely new experience for us
to participate in an event of this size, with 130,000 visitors. Thomas
Jensch organised a shared booth with KDE e.V. to explain the
participants why they as Christians should care about Free Software (see

*Open Standards and politics* Open Standards are important to ease the
migration path to Free Software. This month the European Commission
published the Digital Agenda. It is good that the Commission plans to
give standards a greater role in the public procurement of software, and
to get dominant software vendors to license their interoperability
information, opening up the software market for Free Software vendors.
However the EC avoids all references to Open Standards as well as Free
Software, although the Member States set those goals for the Commission
in the Granada and Malmö declarations. Instead, the Commission points to
the European Interoperability Framework. This is a document which is
currently being systematically hollowed out, as shown by FSFE's analysis
[5]. We outlined that the EC needs to adopt a strict definition of Open
Standards, along the lines of the first European Interoperability
Framework (EIF), and that the Commission needs to focus on Open
Standards for its public sector IT strategy to enable the full potential
of Free Software for European innovation (see [6]).

*Free Video Formats* Good news about open video formats. In March both
our sister organisation the FSF and our associated organisation FFII
asked Google to free the video codec vp8 and use it on YouTube. This
month Google announced they will do so. From now on users will be able
use Free Software to play and encode the new WebM format. "WebM is based
on the Matroska container format -- replacing Ogg -- and the VP8 video
codec which replaces Theora. Crucially, the Vorbis audio codec is part
of the new WebM specification." (see [7] and [8]).

The other good news, since a few days the German ARD news program
tagessschau is available in Ogg Theora. After the public radio station
Dradio is broadcasting its program in OGG vorbis you can now watch the
tagesschau with Free Software [9] and do not have to install proprietary
software like the Adobe's flash player (see [10]).

*Get Active* We depend on the help of many volunteers to evaluate
current topics. If you want to help Free Software in Europe please
subscribe to our public mailing lists [11] and participate in the
discussion sharing your knowledge with others. You have dived into a
topic like free video formats, found an interesting article about Free
Software, you think we missed an important point in a discussion, or you
want to give us feedback on the newsletter? Get active and share this
information with other Free Software supporters on
discussion at fsfeurope.org.

Matthias Kirschner - FSFE

  1. http://www.fsfe.org/news/2010/news-20100126-01.en.html
  2. http://www.fsfe.org/news/2010/news-20100510-01.en.html
  3. http://blogs.fsfe.org/gerloff/?p=350
  4. http://blogs.fsfe.org/gladhorn/2010/05/18/going-where-no-gearheads-have-gone-before/
  5. http://www.fsfe.org/projects/os/eifv2.en.html
  6. http://www.fsfe.org/news/2010/news-20100519-01.en.html
  7. http://www.fsf.org/news/free-software-foundation-statement-on-webm-and-vp8
  8. http://press.ffii.org/Press%20releases/FFII%20welcomes%20Google%27s%20move%20to%20open%20VP8%20video%20format
  9. http://www.tagesschau.de/tagesschau24/
  10. http://blogs.fsfe.org/mk/?p=581
  11. http://www.fsfe.org/contact/community.en.html

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