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<h1>Our Work in 2011</h1>
<p>FSFE turned ten this year. How things have changed! Today, Free
Software is not just mainstream, it's the market leader in many
areas, whether on web servers, mobile devices, in the embedded sector,
or in high-performance computing. The advantages of Free Software have
proved so compelling that today, any electronic device you pick up is
likely to have some Free Software inside it.</p>
<p>But have we really won? Many of these devices are still locked down, so we
can't change the software on them if we want to. Our mobile phones may
run Free Software, but many of them still lock us into services
controlled by someone else. Free Software may be everywhere, but it is
still constantly under threat from software patents, from outlandish
interpretations of copyright, and from the brutal forces of a software
market built around selling licenses for proprietary programs. We have
a long way to go until software freedom becomes the default on every
computer.</p>
<p>In this letter, you'll find a short overview of some of the things we
in FSFE -- Fellows, volunteers, staff -- worked on this year. There
is a lot more than will fit these pages. Please see our website for a
full overview of our work in 2011, and lots of links.</p>
<h2>Freedom in a world of networked services</h2>
<p>Telling people about Free Software is one of FSFE's main reason to
exist. Software freedom concerns everyone, and this year, we've
probably managed to reach a broader set of people through conferences
and events than ever before. FSFE people spoke at meetings as diverse
as LinuxCon Europe in Prague (see <a
href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/gerloff/2011/10/28/free-software-policy-issues-at-linuxcon-europe/">Karsten's blog</a> for his intervention), a <a
href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/samtuke/?p=215">Feminist Festival in Manchester
(UK)</a>, and a <a href="http://piana.eu/korea_fosscon">legal conference in
Seoul, South Korea</a>. In Germany, we
continued a series of monthly radio interviews on one of the major
nationwide stations.</p>
<p>At many of these events, our topic was power and control in a world of
networked services. How do we stay in control of our computing when it
doesn't happen on our own computers anymore? Can we build services
that are convenient, accessible from anywhere, independent from the
devices we use -- and still keep our freedom? Two years ago, this
looked like a distant dream. Now, our <a href="https://wiki.fsfe.org/CloudComputing">list of distributed projects</a>
working towards precisely these goals has grown to impressive
length. We helped to boost the movement towards distributed systems by
explaining the idea to a wider audience, and by organising conference
tracks on the topic, for example at this year's <a
href="http://2011.rmll.info/?lang=en">RMLL</a> in Strasbourg,
France. We also highlighted the topic in connection with the
distributed <a href="http://yacy.net/en/">YaCy</a> search engine, creating
quite a <a
href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/alessandro.polvani/2011/11/30/yacy-gets-an-extraordinary-press-coverage/">splash around the world</a>.</p>
<h2>Patent warfare goes nuclear</h2>
<p><a href="/activities/swpat/swpat.html">Software patents
</a>came back on the agenda in a big way this year. The
discussion was all about how software patents are used to hurt
competition in the software market. There were several huge battles
around patent portfolios, with the stakes increasing each time, as
Microsoft, Apple and others chose software patents as the most
important stick to beat their competitors with. Free Software is
constantly at risk of being caught in the middle and trampled over. So
we hoisted the Free Software flag, rode into battle, and fought as
hard as we could. We got in touch with competition authorities in the
US and Germany, and <a href="/activities/swpat/novell-cptn.html">explained to them</a> why Free Software is crucial for
competition in the software market, and how patents hurt Free
Software. <a href="/news/2011/news-20110420-01.html">We won the first round</a>, when the authorities prevented
Microsoft from getting hold of Novell's patent portfolio. We are still
waiting for a decision in the <a href="/activities/swpat/nortel.html">similarly structured sale of Nortel's
patents</a> to a consortium led by Apple, with Microsoft on board again.
</p>
<p>Patents weren't the only thing that kept our legal and policy people
busy. We helped to fend off a legal challenge to the GPL's fundamental
principles in Germany, and participated in another <a
href="/news/2011/news-20110525-01.html">hearing</a> in the
still-ongoing <a
href="/activities/ms-vs-eu/ms-vs-eu.html">antitrust case of the EU
vs Microsoft</a>. We provided the
European Commission with <a href="/news/2011/news-20111206-01.html">input on how best to spend 80 billion Euro</a> in
research and development funding, talked to several members of the
European Parliament about software patents, and supported the build-up
of a Free Software user group in the parliament. We helped some
countries such as the UK to come up with better ways of buying
software for the public sector, and highlighted how the European
Commission was doing it precisely wrong when it again decided to <a
href="/news/2010/news-20101207-01.html">lock
itself into Microsoft's products</a> for many years to come. The
<a href="/activities/pdfreaders/pdfreaders.html">PDFreaders</a>
campaign managed to remove advertisements for proprietary
software from a quarter of all <a
href="/activities/pdfreaders/buglist.html">reported
websites</a>.</p>
<p>Our <a href="/activities/ftf/ftf.html">Legal Department</a>
organised another edition of the highly
successful annual workshop for legal experts on Free Software. This
year, we were invited to organise a similar <a
href="http://piana.eu/korea_fosscon">event in Seoul</a>, South
Korea, which provided a lot of new angles and fresh inspiration.</p>
<h2>New hands on deck</h2>
<p>We were happy to welcome <a href="http://matija.suklje.name/">Matija
Šuklje</a>, who took over coordination of our Legal Department from
Shane Coughlan.
Henrik Sandklef, a
GNU
hacker and university teacher, replaced
Fernanda Weiden as FSFE's
Vice
President. Bernhard Reiter handed over his role as coordinator
of the
German team to <a href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/torsten.grote/">Torsten Grote</a>.
<a href="/about/tuke/tuke.html">Sam Tuke</a> took on the task
of building up
FSFE's activities in the UK.</p>
<h2>Together, we'll make a difference</h2>
<p>If we managed to handle such a wide range of complex challenges, it was
thanks to you, our supporters, donors, and volunteers. Without you, none of this
work would be possible. Thank you! </p>
<p>Looking ahead, there are many challenges for Free Software in 2012. Microsoft
is trying to extend its stranglehold to the hardware market with an initiative
called "<a
href="http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/secure-boot-vs-restricted-boot/statement">SecureBoot</a>". We will stand up for our freedom to install Free
Software. The Netherlands are currently locking everyone in their education
system into a proprietary platform, and <a
href="/activities/nledu/nledu.html">we are campaigning
hard </a>to unlock education there. Public software procurement shows no signs
of fixing itself, so
we will educate authorities and push for better rules and practices.</p>
<p>For all this and more, we will need your help. We are currently working hard
to make it even easier to participate in FSFE's work, for example in the
<a href="/freesoftware/education/education.html">education
team</a> and the newly launched policy team.</p>
<p>All this work <a
href="/about/funds/funds.html">costs
money</a>. In 2011 we were able to complete our campaigns
and appointments with a budget of just 287,000 Euro. In 2012 we
need to do even more. If we receive enough new donations we would
be able to hire two part time employees (~43k), and intensify our
work on public procurement (~20k) This would require an increased
budget of 364,000 Euro, and allow FSFE to have a significantly
greater impact. To secure and increase our work, we need to raise
103.500 Euro by the end of January. If we reach this goal, we will
be financed for the whole of 2012. Every contribution,
including yours, will help to fill the gap.</p>
<p>Together with you we will continue to make a real difference for Free
Software in 2012 and beyond. Thank you for joining us in this struggle.</p>
<p>I wish you wonderful holidays and a very happy New Year!</p>
<p>With best regards,</p>
<p>Karsten Gerloff</p>
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