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  4. <title>FSF Europe - Free Software in Europe - European perspectives and work of the FSF Europe</title>
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  8. <h1>Free Software in Europe</h1>
  9. <h2>European perspectives and work of the FSF Europe</h2>
  10. [<a href="eur5greve.pdf">PDF (English, a4); 81k</a>]
  11. </center>
  12. <div align="right">
  13. Hamburg, February 11th, 2003<br />
  14. <a href="/about/greve/">Georg C. F. Greve</a> &lt;greve@fsfe.org&gt;<br /><br />
  15. "Public Service Review - European Union," 5th edition<br />
  16. <a href="http://www.publicservice.co.uk/europe/spring2003/eu_spring2003_contents.asp">http://www.publicservice.co.uk/europe/spring2003/eu_spring2003_contents.asp</a>
  17. </div>
  18. <h3>Introduction</h3>
  19. <p>Free Software &#8212; especially the GNU/Linux operating system &#8212; and the
  20. FSF Europe have recently become more visible on the political
  21. agenda. This article will seek to explain some of the larger economic,
  22. social and political benefits that Free Software offers the European
  23. countries and Europe as a whole. It will also give an insight into the
  24. work of the FSF Europe.</p>
  25. <p>As a concept and paradigm, Free Software addresses some of the most
  26. fundamental needs of any society in its development towards the
  27. post-industrial information era. The most visible organisation in this
  28. field, the Free Software Foundation (FSF), was founded in 1985, a time
  29. when people had barely begun grasping the most basic principles of
  30. information technology.</p>
  31. <p>With the first formal definition of Free Software and the creation of
  32. the GNU General Public License (GPL) and GNU Lesser General Public
  33. License (LGPL), the FSF not only created (and still maintains) the two
  34. most popular licenses for Free Software in use today, but also
  35. invented the notion of "Copyleft," referring to Free Software protected
  36. against being stripped of its freedom.</p>
  37. <p>Free Software itself is defined by four basic freedoms. The first
  38. freedom &#8212; sometimes referred to as freedom 0 &#8212; is the unlimited use
  39. of a program for any purpose. This means that a Free Software license
  40. must allow use for all commercial or non-commercial applications in
  41. order to fulfill this criterion.</p>
  42. <p>The second freedom &#8212; freedom 1 in the Free Software definition [<a href="#1" name="ref1">1</a>] &#8212;
  43. is the freedom to study a program to learn how it works and to adapt
  44. it to your own needs. The remaining two freedoms are the freedoms to
  45. redistribute unmodified copies and the freedom to release modified
  46. copies that improve the state of the art.</p>
  47. <p>As these are freedoms, people are free to choose to exercise one or
  48. several of them, but they may also choose to exercise none.</p>
  49. <p>Licenses providing these freedoms are referred to as Free Software
  50. licenses. [<a href="#2" name="ref2">2</a>] A special case of Free Software license, the so-called
  51. "Copyleft" license, has already been mentioned above. These licenses
  52. give any user the freedoms described above, but they explicitly forbid
  53. a distributor to remove that freedom, which would make recipients of
  54. such freedom-deprived software dependent on that specific distributor.</p>
  55. <p>Since access to the source code is a necessity to exercise these
  56. freedoms for programming languages with distinct source code, some
  57. people suggested using "Open Source" as a marketing term for Free
  58. Software in 1998; nowadays Free Software is sometimes referred to
  59. under this marketing term.</p>
  60. <p>The good intention of making Free Software more widely known has
  61. unfortunately had the unexpected side effect of weakening the
  62. distinction between Free and proprietary/non-free software. [<a href="#3" name="ref3">3</a>]
  63. Therefore the Free Software Foundation strongly recommends speaking
  64. about Free Software or the adequate term in the local language; as
  65. will be done in the remainder of this article.</p>
  66. <h3>Economic perspectives of Free Software</h3>
  67. <p>Despite the attempts of proprietary software vendors &#8212; especially
  68. those located in the United States holding a monopoly in their
  69. respective areas &#8212; to make it seem so, Free Software is not an attack
  70. directed at specific companies.</p>
  71. <p>Free Software should be understood as a new paradigm, a new model of
  72. dealing with software based upon mature concepts. It is a model based
  73. upon keeping the markets open and freely accessible; as such it cannot
  74. be an attack on specific companies, since any company can participate
  75. in this new market.</p>
  76. <p>In a Free Software economy, there will be market leaders, but the
  77. possibility of uncontrollable monopolies is much lower.</p>
  78. <p>To current monopolies this may seem threatening. But as one of the
  79. most important &#8212; maybe even the most important &#8212; problems of the
  80. European IT industry is its dependence on foreign IT monopolies,
  81. weakening these monopolies has become necessary for Europe to prosper.</p>
  82. <p>That current monopolistic situation is a logical consequence of the
  83. proprietary software model, which has a strong system-inherent
  84. tendency towards proprietary software. The reason being that proprietary
  85. software tends to only work properly with itself.</p>
  86. <p>With such proprietary software, communication between two users
  87. requires that both use the same software. Given that all people in
  88. western countries supposedly know each other over no more than five
  89. others, this leads to a kind of "viral" effect, where one user forces
  90. the next to use the same software, creating a monopoly.</p>
  91. <p>In theory, open standards would provide a way out of this vendor
  92. lock-in, but history has shown that no open standard was ever truly
  93. successful unless it was implemented in Free Software.</p>
  94. <p>The possibility to enlarge and lock-in a user base by modification of
  95. an open standard &#8212; a process euphemistically described as "improving"
  96. a standard &#8212; that in consequence allows only migrating to a certain
  97. piece of software, but not away from it, has proven to be too much of
  98. a temptation for the major players in the field.</p>
  99. <p>As the past has proven, it is ineffective to impose open standards on
  100. vendors of proprietary software because of the fast-paced development
  101. in this sector in combination with the intransparency of proprietary
  102. software and the comparably slow workings of the political decision
  103. process.</p>
  104. <p>That is if the vendors accept such measures and do not excert their
  105. monopoly-based clout to stop such actions altogether, as recent
  106. anti-trust cases in the United States have shown.</p>
  107. <p><b>Structure of a Free Software economy</b></p>
  108. <p>The differences are much smaller than many people would make you
  109. believe. The financially most important sector today is software for
  110. business activities and most of the revenue is generated through
  111. service. This is unlikely to change.</p>
  112. <p>It is true that license revenue will most likely go down, probably
  113. significantly. However this only affects a very small part of the
  114. software generated revenue; a part which generates a negative trade
  115. balance between Europe and the United States today.</p>
  116. <p>The by orders of magnitude largest source of revenue today is service.
  117. This sector will be able to grow significantly in a Free Software
  118. economy.</p>
  119. <p>In the current system, dominated by proprietary software, only those
  120. companies supported by the monopolies can offer services; usually only
  121. a small part of what would be possible. The remainder is either done
  122. by the monopolies themselves &#8212; generating another stream of revenue
  123. flowing out of Europe &#8212; or not at all.</p>
  124. <p>Free Software offers greater independence of European businesses,
  125. allowing them to offer the full array of services if they wish or
  126. cooperate with others if this seems economically more useful. </p>
  127. <p>Also they will be able to provide solutions for those services that
  128. are already in demand, or that they can create a demand for, which are
  129. currently impossible because businesses lack adequate access and
  130. control over the software these services depend on.</p>
  131. <p>In a Free Software economy, the current revenue in the service sector
  132. will be redistributed more in favor of the European vendors and the
  133. sector as a whole can be expected to grow.</p>
  134. <p><b>Reducing dependencies</b></p>
  135. <p>It also must be considered that currently the holders of monopolies
  136. have control over the European IT industry as they could drive most
  137. companies out of business by denying them access to their monopoly or
  138. by making access so difficult that the economics of the situation will
  139. possibly drive the company out of business.</p>
  140. <p>To further worsen the situation, software monopolies can effectively
  141. be coupled with hardware monopolies. So a piece of monopolistic
  142. software will run only on a special kind of hardware and in return the
  143. vendor(s) of that hardware will only deliver their machines with this
  144. particular software.</p>
  145. <p>The Free Software paradigm does not allow building this kind of
  146. coupled monopoly. In fact Free Software encourages platform
  147. independence and the Free Software systems (e.g. GNU/Linux and the BSD
  148. systems) run on more hardware platforms than any proprietary operating
  149. system.</p>
  150. <p>Because the freedom to modify allows adding support for other hardware
  151. platforms, Free Software provides a stable fundament for innovative
  152. hardware initiatives that might even start on a local or regional
  153. level.</p>
  154. <p>That way Free Software not only brings back competition into the
  155. software, but also furthers it in the hardware field.</p>
  156. <p><b>National Economy</b></p>
  157. <p>Because the largest part of software development is putting together
  158. old and well-known principles, these get reimplemented at least once
  159. by every company, sometimes even once for every project.</p>
  160. <p>In terms of national economy, proprietary software is waste of highly
  161. skilled labor. The proprietary software paradigm keeps software
  162. developers busy reinventing the wheel, slowing down innovation.</p>
  163. <p>Free Software allows building upon these old and well-known building
  164. blocks, consequently reducing the market-entry barrier for new and
  165. innovative companies.</p>
  166. <p>Also, the software industry is only one part of economy as a whole. As
  167. software is the glue that ties together a digitally networked economy,
  168. all sectors pay the price for the inefficiency of the proprietary
  169. software model.</p>
  170. <p>Today, most non-IT companies use proprietary solutions. This makes
  171. them relying entirely on their vendors for crucial aspects of their
  172. own economic activity such as keeping stocks, writing and paying bills
  173. or communication with their customers, suppliers and/or competitors.</p>
  174. <p>Forced updates are one result, the need to sometimes replace a whole
  175. IT solution, downtimes and new training of employees included, is
  176. another. Solutions based upon Free Software remove this dependency
  177. almost entirely.</p>
  178. <p>As the company gains the freedoms described above, updates can be made
  179. according to the economic situation of the company. In case of
  180. problems with the vendor, the solution will still remain usable and
  181. another vendor can be found.</p>
  182. <p>In the latter case, an investment for the new vendor to work itself
  183. into the solution is required, but that cost is significantly lower
  184. than the cost of an entirely new solution. Also the indirect costs in
  185. terms of customer dissatisfaction, training of employees and downtimes
  186. usually do not arise.</p>
  187. <p>It can be expected that these effects will help revitalising economy
  188. as a whole. In essence, Europe can only win economically by furthering
  189. massive deployment of Free Software.</p>
  190. <h3>Social issues</h3>
  191. <p>Access to software becomes increasingly important to participate in
  192. the cultural, social and economic exchange of mankind. For the
  193. individual this means that access to software determines ones ability
  194. to communicate, to study and to work. Studies from the United States
  195. indicate that the average person interacts about 150 times each day
  196. with software.</p>
  197. <p>In consequence, software has to be understood as a form of cultural
  198. property, a cultural technique. As long as mankind exists, new
  199. cultural techniques have risen the question of who is given access to
  200. them. Free Software ensures all people retain equal access to the
  201. cultural property that software has become.</p>
  202. <p>In terms of data security and protection, another issue arises. As
  203. computers are always opaque &#8212; it is not possible to tell by
  204. mechanical observation what a computer does &#8212; it becomes even more
  205. important that the software is entirely transparent. Otherwise people
  206. lose the ability to determine what their computers do and consequently
  207. have no control over their personal or other data.</p>
  208. <p>Free Software is by nature entirely transparent, preserving the
  209. maximum of informational self-determination.</p>
  210. <h3>2001: The Free Software Foundation Europe</h3>
  211. <p>Networks tend to be more stable than single nodes and Europe is one of
  212. the leading &#8212; if not the leading &#8212; regions for Free Software. So in
  213. 2001, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSF Europe) was founded as
  214. a sister organisation of the Free Software Foundation in North
  215. America. Legally, financially and personally independent of each
  216. other, they are working together on all aspects of Free Software in a
  217. spirit of equal cooperation.</p>
  218. <p>The FSF Europe itself encompasses the vision of a strong Europe united
  219. in cooperation and mutual understanding with currently four countries
  220. (France, Germany, Italy, Sweden) fully represented, three others
  221. associated (UK, Portugal, Austria) and several others involved through
  222. regular cooperation.</p>
  223. <p>A main function of the FSF Europe is providing a European competence
  224. center for Free Software, offering advice to governments, commissions,
  225. companies, journalists and others.</p>
  226. <p>In the scope of these activities, the FSF Europe was invited to
  227. provide an expert for the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights
  228. in London [<a href="#4" name="ref4">4</a>] and presented Free Software at an OECD workshop in Tokyo
  229. on invitation of the German Ministry of Economics and Technology.</p>
  230. <p>Other activities involve regular project work, for instance in AGNULA
  231. [<a href="#5" name="ref5">5</a>], a project funded in the scope of the 5th framework programme of
  232. the European Commission (IST-2001-34879).</p>
  233. <p>For the 6th framework programme, the FSF Europe issued a
  234. recommendation supported by over 50 parties, in which the advantages
  235. of Free Software for Europe are addressed in how they refer to
  236. accepted European goals; concrete recommendations on how Europe can
  237. capitalise on them are given. [<a href="#6" name="ref6">6</a>]</p>
  238. <p>Also the FSF Europe is doing work to support the legal fundament of
  239. Free Software, for instance it helped a local institute for legal
  240. issues of Free Software, the ifross, with the amendment of a German
  241. copyright law revision and recently issued the Fiduciary Licence
  242. Agreement (FLA) [<a href="#7" name="ref7">7</a>], which will help upholding the legal
  243. maintainability of Free Software.</p>
  244. <h3> Capitalising on Free Software</h3>
  245. <p>Free Software offers unique opportunities for Europe as a region and
  246. the European states. In fact Europe is currently the region with the
  247. best position to gain the full advantages of Free Software and go into
  248. the information age with a head-start.</p>
  249. <p>Possible advantages include greater independence, increased
  250. sustainability, freedom from foreign mono- and oligopolies,
  251. alternative hard- and software possibilities, a strengthened domestic
  252. market and better protection of civil rights.</p>
  253. <p>For these to become reality, it becomes increasingly important to make
  254. clear statements and policies in favor of Free Software, such as the
  255. evaluation bonus for Free Software projects defined in the IST work
  256. programme or the policy statement by Liikanen in the European
  257. Parliament [<a href="#8" name="ref8">8</a>] regarding Free Software in public administration.</p>
  258. <p>In fact public administration happens to provide an excellent starting
  259. point for the transition towards Free Software for three reasons.</p>
  260. <p>Firstly, a government using proprietary software creates a tendency to
  261. force its citizens to use the same software because of the
  262. aforementioned "viral" effect of proprietary software. As governments
  263. have the ethical obligation to be available to all its citizens, they
  264. can make a just case for Free Software based upon the consideration of
  265. not wanting to force their citizens into a harmful monopoly.</p>
  266. <p>Secondly, public administration is always short of resources, but the
  267. majority of resources spent on IT get squandered by creating a
  268. separate solution for each ministry or region, while the problems
  269. addressed tend to be similar and massive cooperation would be
  270. possible.</p>
  271. <p>And finally, use of Free Software in public administration will
  272. provide a role model, encouraging citizens and businesses to get out
  273. of unhealthy dependencies, getting accustomed to the new model and
  274. becoming economically and socially active in it.</p>
  275. <p>Several European regions already have initiatives to make use of
  276. Free Software mandatory for public administration. The commission
  277. entrusted with this question for the French speaking part of the
  278. region of Brussels came out in favor of such a regulation on February
  279. 11th, 2003, for instance.</p>
  280. <p>Public administrations in Europe should at least make sure to prefer
  281. Free Software over proprietary and require open standards for which a
  282. Free Software reference implementation exists.</p>
  283. <p>Also wherever public money is spent, spending it on Free Software is
  284. making sure that it will benefit the public and economy. In the past,
  285. such money was usually spent on proprietary sofware, often benefitting
  286. only that proprietary vendor company directly at the cost of society
  287. and economy as a whole, or getting lost entirely.</p>
  288. <p>For that migration period towards a more sustainable approach,
  289. especially the so-called "Copyleft" licenses &#8212; the GNU General Public
  290. License (GPL) being the most widely known &#8212; provide a sound basis for
  291. such projects. </p>
  292. <p>These licenses will make sure that the results of resources spent will
  293. be available for all of economy and society equally, fostering a
  294. general increase of economic activity. They will resist having the
  295. results procured by any single company or person trying to restore old
  296. monopolistic situations.</p>
  297. <p><b>Information Age aware governance</b></p>
  298. <p>Like information technology permeates all of economy and society,
  299. governance decisions in one area can influence chances in the
  300. information age significantly. Given the European goal of becoming an
  301. information economy, it becomes necessary to be aware of these issues
  302. in all areas of governance.</p>
  303. <p>There are several policies pending or in implementation that are about
  304. to inflict serious harm on the European competitiveness. These should
  305. be prevented or abolished if seeking to increase the European edge.</p>
  306. <p>One policy endangering proprietary and Free Software alike are
  307. software patents. Patents are an entirely unsuitable concept for
  308. software as it has very different properties. Experience indicates the
  309. United States are already paying dearly for their software patent
  310. system with reduced innovation.</p>
  311. <p>To quote Bill Gates from an internal memo: "If people had understood
  312. how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented
  313. and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete
  314. standstill today. ... The solution is patenting as much as we can. A
  315. future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay
  316. whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be
  317. high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future
  318. competitors." [<a href="#9" name="ref9">9</a>]</p>
  319. <p>Another extraordinarily harmful law is the European Copyright
  320. Directive (EUCD). Its US counterpart, the Digital Millennium Copyright
  321. Act (DMCA) is already being used successfully by groups such as
  322. Scientology to censor unwelcome web sites. [<a href="#10" name="ref10">10</a>] Similar cases can be
  323. expected in Europe.</p>
  324. <p>Economically, the EUCD is highly anti-competitive. As it makes it
  325. illegal to circumvent whatever is considered a protection measure, the
  326. company that created this technical measure is given ultimate control
  327. over who may or may not participate in the market based upon it or how
  328. these companies should behave.</p>
  329. <p>Example is given by the recent case against the teenager Jon Johansen,
  330. in which the question whether buying a DVD in a store will entitle the
  331. customer to view that DVD on their computer has become the central
  332. issue. The EUCD also provides a serious impediment of the freedoms of
  333. speech, communication and choice of profession, giving it a somewhat
  334. anti-democratic air.</p>
  335. <p>These two policies are either in the process of adoption or adopted
  336. already and should be abolished before they can do further harm to
  337. Europes competitive edge.</p>
  338. <p>The current new initiative to reduce competition in the market further
  339. are Palladium and its hardware counterpart proposed by the TCPA. This
  340. initiative, which wishes to be known as increasing the trustworthyness
  341. of computers, is best described as "Treacherous Computing." [<a href="#11" name="ref11">11</a>]</p>
  342. <p>Under the pretense of trying to improve computer security, the TCPA
  343. apparently seeks to eliminate concepts and paradigms competing with
  344. the monopoly holders of the proprietary software model. Again, Europe
  345. would be on the losing side.</p>
  346. <h3>Resumé</h3>
  347. <p>Free Software as a new paradigm offers a stable, lasting and
  348. sustainable approach with higher dynamics and increased
  349. efficiency. The first region to understand and adopt it on a larger
  350. scale is likely to become a leading force in the information age.</p>
  351. <p>Currently it seems unlikely that Free Software will ever replace
  352. proprietary software completely, but by making Free Software the
  353. predominant model, Europe could relieve dependences on foreign
  354. monopolies, which currently create a highly unstable and unfavorable
  355. situation for the European information technologies industry.</p>
  356. <p>Europe is right now in the unique situation of having a large supply
  357. of Free Software competence and growing network of smaller companies
  358. that are based upon or centered in Free Software. Also more of the old
  359. and traditional European IT companies have begun shifting at least
  360. partially towards Free Software.</p>
  361. <p>If this is furthered now, Europe has the potential to become global
  362. leader in the information age.</p>
  363. <p>In case of further questions, the FSF Europe [<a href="#12" name="ref12">12</a>] will gladly be of
  364. assistance.</p>
  365. <pre>
  366. [<a href="#ref1" name="1">1</a>] <a href="http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html">http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html</a>
  367. [<a href="#ref2" name="2">2</a>] <a href="http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html">http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html</a>
  368. [<a href="#ref3" name="3">3</a>] <a href="/documents/whyfs.html">http://fsfeurope.org/documents/whyfs.html</a>
  369. [<a href="#ref4" name="4">4</a>] <a href="http://www.iprcommission.org">http://www.iprcommission.org</a>
  370. [<a href="#ref5" name="5">5</a>] <a href="/campaigns/agnula/">http://fsfeurope.org/campaigns/agnula/</a>
  371. [<a href="#ref6" name="6">6</a>] <a href="/documents/fp6/recommendation.html">http://fsfeurope.org/documents/fp6/recommendation.html</a>
  372. [<a href="#ref7" name="7">7</a>] <a href="/activities/ftf/">http://fsfeurope.org/activities/ftf/</a>
  373. [<a href="#ref8" name="8">8</a>] <a href="http://www3.europarl.eu.int/omk/omnsapir.so/cre?FILE=20021023r&amp;LANGUE=EN&amp;LEVEL=DOC&amp;NUMINT=3-188&amp;LEG=L5">http://www3.europarl.eu.int/omk/omnsapir.so/cre?FILE=20021023r&amp;LANGUE=EN&amp;LEVEL=DOC&amp;NUMINT=3-188&amp;LEG=L5</a>
  374. [<a href="#ref9" name="9">9</a>] <a href="http://swpat.ffii.org/archive/quotes/index.en.html">http://swpat.ffii.org/archive/quotes/index.en.html</a>
  375. [<a href="#ref10" name="10">10</a>] <a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/24533.html">http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/24533.html</a>
  376. [<a href="#ref11" name="11">11</a>] <a href="http://www.counterpane.com/crypto-gram-0208.html#1">http://www.counterpane.com/crypto-gram-0208.html#1</a>
  377. [<a href="#ref12" name="12">12</a>] <a href="/">http://fsfeurope.org</a>
  378. </pre>
  379. </body>
  380. <timestamp>$Date$ $Author$</timestamp>
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