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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<html newsdate="2009-06-20">
<title>Two year executive summary</title>
<h1>Two year executive summary - Report for the 2009 General Assembly</h1>
The 2009 general assembly marks the end of FSFEs third major
transformation process, which began at the 2007 assembly in Brussels.
This transformation included changes to
<a href="/about/legal/constitution.html">FSFE's constitution</a>, which
were discussed during the general assembly in 2007, prepared by the
Extended Executive Committee for the 2008 assembly in Zürich and
ultimately adopted during an extraordinary assembly in October that year.
The two most important changes made were the introduction of an executive
director position, and the addition of
<a href="">Fellowship</a> representation to
FSFE's general assembly.
With the hiring of <a href="/about/holz/holz.html">Christian Holz</a> as
executive director and the election of Torsten Grote as the first
Fellowship representative into FSFE's general assembly the mandate given
to the Executive Council by FSFE's 2007 assembly has been fulfilled and
the organisation has now reached maturity.
Meanwhile FSFE's work intensified in a variety of areas, and the
<a href="/about/funds/funds.html">organisation's budget</a> reached
<a href="/about/funds/2008.html">380K EUR in 2008</a>, continuing the upward
trend of the past eight years. This report will summarise some of the
important milestones that were achieved over the past two years.
<h2>European Union: Microsoft Antitrust Decision &amp; New Investigation</h2>
The <a href="/activities/ms-vs-eu/ms-vs-eu.html">work</a> that began for
FSFE in 2001 with the
<a href="/activities/ms-vs-eu/application-1.0.pdf">initial application</a>
to provide Free Software perspective and expertise to the antitrust
investigation of the European Commission against Microsoft, that
continued through the
<a href="/activities/ms-vs-eu/monti-samba-submission.pdf">joint submission with the Samba team</a>
in 2004 and joint work during the European Court of First Instance (CFI)
case in 2005, 2006 and 2007 finally came to a conclusion with a
<a href="">triumphant victory for interoperability</a>
in September 2007.
As the
<a href="">resulting discussion highlighted</a>,
FSFE had broken new ground as the first Free Software organisation to
actively get involved in antitrust activity, and this case demonstrated
that it was possible to protect Free Software interests against monopoly
abuse. The current increase in antitrust action against abusive practices
brought forward by various groups, e.g.
<a href="">in Switzerland</a>,
is an encouraging sign.
Meanwhile FSFE continued its activity in this area through
<a href="/news/2009/news-20090227-01.html">support of the antitrust complaints</a>
brought forward by the <a href="">European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS)</a>,
and Opera. ECIS published a noteworthy summary paper on
<a href="">Microsoft's history of anticompetitive behaviour and consumer harm</a>
that demonstrates why this work is so highly necessary. Only by being
present can FSFE ensure that the solutions found will not exclude Free
Software, e.g. by accepting RAND practices that are also common in
standardisation and a major obstacle for Free Software, as explained in
<a href="/freesoftware/standards/ps.html">Analysis on Balance: Standardisation and Patents</a>.
<h2>Open Standards</h2>
Helping develop a
<a href="">common understanding</a> of
<a href="/freesoftware/standards/standards.html">Open Standards</a> and promoting their adoption
has in fact permeated the work of FSFE in various ways. This includes the
EU-funded SELF project which terminated in 2008 and for which FSFE
developed the
<a href="/activities/self/SELF-LegalPolicy-0.9_1.pdf">SELF Legal Policy</a>
and provides <a href="/activities/ftf/fiduciary.html">fiduciary services</a>.
It spans FSFE's work at the United Nations, such as the
<a href="/activities/igf/igf.html">Internet Governance Forum (IGF)</a> and the
<a href="/activities/wipo/wipo.html">World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)</a>,
and the work with the European Commission, most importantly discussions
around the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) and the European
Software Strategy. But three issues stood out during the past two
The most visible issue was most likely the debate around the Microsoft
OfficeOpenXML (OOXML) format, for which Microsoft had contracted ECMA's
services to push it through ISO before anyone would catch on to the
issues. FSFE
<a href="">took the lead</a>
in alerting the Free Software community to the dangers that MS-OOXML
presented. FSFE's staff and volunteers actively participated directly in
the process through national standardisation bodies, e.g. Switzerland,
Serbia and Italy, as well as indirectly through
<a href="/activities/msooxml/msooxml-questions.html">various publications</a>
on MS-OOXML to support the work of the diverse global community that
stood together in defence of the Open Document Format (ODF). The debate
culminated February 2008 around the MS-OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting
(BRM), where FSFE's
<a href="/activities/ftf/ftf.html">Freedom Task Force</a> Coordinator
Shane Coughlan coordinated
the activities to highlight the
<a href="/activities/msooxml/msooxml-interoperability.html">many critical flaws</a>
in the MS-OOXML format.
But FSFE did not focus its attention on defensive work alone. Thanks to
the work done by FSFE's
Serbian team, most notably Ivan
Jelic, but also Marko Milenovic and others, 26 March 2008 saw the first
global day for document liberation, the
<a href="">Document Freedom Day (DFD)</a>.
Similar in design and complementary to the Software Freedom Day (SFD),
the DFD is a day to bring together groups with a common interest in Open
Standards, to help create awareness for the importance of Open Standards.
While FSFE has provided initiative, logistical and coordinative support
to DFD, it does not seek to control it. The DFD is owned by the many
entities and people around the world that made it their own and declared
their support, including, but not limited to,
<a href="">ANSOL</a>,
<a href="">Ars Aperta</a>,
<a href="">COSS</a>,
<a href="">Esoma</a>,
<a href="">Estándares Abiertos</a>,
<a href="">FFII</a>,
<a href="">Free Knowledge Foundation</a>,
<a href="">Free Software Foundation</a>,
<a href="">Free Software Foundation Latin America</a>,
<a href="">Google</a>,
<a href="">IBM</a>,
<a href="">NLnet</a>,
<a href="">ODF Alliance</a>,
<a href="">Open Forum Europe</a>,
<a href="">Open Source Initiative (OSI)</a>,
<a href="">Opentia</a>,
<a href="">OSL</a>,
<a href="">iMatix</a>,
<a href="">Red Hat</a>,
<a href="">Sun</a>,
<a href="">The Open Learning Centre</a>,
<a href=""></a> and
<a href="">Funambol.</a>
And last but not least there is the
<a href="">PDF readers campaign</a>. Unlike the
other activities, this initiative did not begin with FSFE's staff or
coordinative team, it originates with the personal initiative of some of
FSFE's Fellows, which came up with the initial idea and coordinated the
project from the first idea to the public launch and maintenance. The
role of FSFE's staff was limited to providing some input, resources,
support and encouragement. So
<a href=""></a> provides an excellent
example of how FSFE's structure and culture facilitates grass-roots
activity up to a global scale as well as the targeted and centrally
coordinated activities in other areas, such as the United Nations.
<h2>United Nations</h2>
Besides participation in the 2007
<a href="/activities/igf/igf.html">Internet Governance Forum (IGF)</a> in
Brazil, FSFE's work at the United Nations has increasingly focussed on
<a href="/activities/wipo/wipo.html">World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)</a>,
which is currently undergoing reform based on the
<a href="">Development Agenda (DA)</a>
that WIPO's Member States adopted during its 2007 General Assemblies. In
combination with a new Director General,
<a href="">Mr Francis Gurry</a>,
and the
<a href="">WIPO Strategic Realignment Program</a>,
WIPO is increasingly openly discussing issues such as standardisation,
the limits of the patent system. Having been part of the group that was
pushing for the Development Agenda over several years, FSFE now focussed
on the issue of patents in standards, e.g.
<a href="">during SCP/13</a>, and is
pushing for WIPO to
<a href="">become more focussed on Innovation Policy</a>
evaluation under consideration of all possible options.
<h2>Freedom Task Force</h2>
From its good start in November 2006, the
<a href="/activities/ftf/ftf.html">Freedom Task Force</a> continued to be a
major success story throughout the years 2007, 2008 and 2009. Under the
able guidance of
Shane Coughlan, the European
Legal Network of the Freedom Task Force grew to more than 190
participants across 27 countries and four continents, including a broad
spectrum of interests engaging in Free Software. The FTF's European Legal
Network appears to be the largest legal support structure for Free
Software in the world with a wide variety of activities, such as special
interest group and well attended legal workshops with global attendance
in 2008 and 2009. There is also an increasing amount of publications
coming out of the
<a href="/activities/ftf/activities.html">FTF network</a>.
In addition to the increased networking of the Free Software legal field,
the FTF has continued to provide Free Software training to executives and
developers in several countries, and helped companies such as
<a href="">Bacula Systems</a> define their
value proposition on top of the
<a href="/activities/ftf/fiduciary.html">FSFE fiduciary programme</a>.
Through its cooperation with
<a href=""></a>, the FTF has
also continued to help resolve licence violations, but its primary focus
is on the prevention of licence violations through education and
constructive dialogue with companies to help them define internal
processes to make use of Free Software while keeping the legal and
community reputation record clean.</p>
As part of the EU-funded
<a href="/activities/stacs/stacs.html">Science, Technology, and Civil Society (STACS)</a>
project, FSFE coordinated two workshops to introduce Civil Society
organisations to the concepts of Free Software and to provide them with a
practical view on how Free Software can enable their daily work. The
workshops were held in <a href="/activities/stacs/london.html">London</a>
and <a href="/activities/stacs/belgrade.html">Belgrade</a> in late 2007
under the guidance of FSFE vice president
Jonas Öberg.
From its inception in February 2005 the Fellowship has continuously grown
in importance and activity into one of the most important activities for
FSFE. The Fellowship contributions are seminal to guarantee the financial
independence of FSFE and provide an important part of FSFE's budget with
the advantage that the distribution over many Fellows makes this source
of income very predictable and secure the independence to the
The Fellows actively participate in FSFE's activities in several ways,
primarily focussed on local activities during a wide variety of
initiatives, such as Document Freedom Day and the Software Freedom Day in
Berlin, Düsseldorf, Vienna, Cologne, and other places. The highly
successful <a href=""></a> campaign
to provide information about Free Software PDF readers, which grew out of
the Fellowship into an official FSFE project. The web site has meanwhile
been translated into 17 languages. Fellowship groups were also able to
participate in various events and exhibitions, like the Linuxweeks in
Austria or the Linuxtag in Berlin. Most FSFE booths are run to a high
degree by Fellows.
Along with the aforementioned Fellowship election and representative in
the General Assembly, the Fellowship also continues to provide one of the
regular paths into FSFE's executive teams on national and international
level. Past examples for this were provided by FTF Coordinator Shane
Coughlan, more recent examples are FSFE Executive Coordinator Christian
Holz or FSFE's very active Austrian team, which grew out of the
Fellowship entirely.
<h2>Other Activities</h2>
FSFE continued to participate actively through booths, volunteers,
support and speaking in a large number of events and engagements across
Europe and beyond. It has hosted several events, supported others, such
as the Trophees du Libre in France or eLiberatica in Romania, and has
established a constant presence in the various regular and irregular Free
Software events in most European countries.
Outreach activities also include translations into 27 languages, which
are only possible due to a very motivated and energetic
<a href="/contribute/translators/translators.html">translation team</a>,
which typically provides fast and high quality translation in very short
time. The monthly <a href="/news/newsletter.html">FSFE newsletter</a>,
which has meanwhile switched into the capable hands of Giacomo Poderi of
the Italian team, provides a good and regular opportunity for people to
stay up to date on the ongoing activities.
Alongside the many
<a href="/contribute/contribute.html">daily activities</a> for which FSFE
enjoys the privilege of support by a large number of dedicated, capable
volunteers, FSFE has been active in a wide variety of fields.
For all these fields, FSFE's contribution is typically characterised by
high efficiency and an above average return on investment towards
achievement of the goals of the association. The future challenge will be
to further professionalise the organisation while maintaining that
volunteer involvement that has allowed FSFE to be so successful in the
past years.
<tag key="front-page"/>
<tag key="annual-report">Annual report</tag>