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<html newsdate="2012-12-14">
<title> FSFE 2012 Annual Report</title>
<h1>FSFE 2012 Annual Report</h1>
<div id="toc">
<li><a href="#why">Why we work for software freedom</a></li>
<li><a href="#achieved">What we've achieved in 2012</a></li>
<li><a href="#frontline">The new frontline: General purpose computing</a></li>
<li><a href="#rules">Making the rules</a></li>
<li><a href="#legaldevelopers">Supporting developers with legal expertise</a></li>
<li><a href="#work">Who's doing all the work?</a></li>
<li><a href="#challenges">Challenges for 2013 and beyond</a></li>
<li><a href="#support">Support FSFE</a></li>
Come and see what FSFE did in 2012! Read our annual report to find out
what we achieved, how we did it, and what's ahead for
2013. We thank all of our Fellows, donors and sponsors
for making our work possible! If you like what you see, please
remember to <a href="">sign
up as a supporter</a>, so we can keep you updated.
<h2 id="why">Why we work for software freedom</h2>
<p>With every day, computers become a bigger part of our lives. Our phone
is a computer that we carry in our pocket. Cars, as Cory Doctorow
says, are just computers that we drive around in. Computers in
every shape and form have become central building blocks of our
<p>Who controls these computers? If they are
black boxes that keep their internal workings secret from us, if their
makers have artificially restricted them to limit what we can do with
them, then although we may pay for these computers -- we can never own
<p>In order to be in charge of our own lives, we need to be able to
control the computers we use. We can only do this if they run Free
Software that we can use, study, share and improve. We can only do
this if our computers aren't neutered to restrict their functionality,
or loaded with spyware. We also need neutral networks to connect them
to, so we can freely choose what to say, and to whom.</p>
<p>With this in mind, 2012 was both a good and a bad year for our
freedom. Android is an example of how ambiguous things can get. More
than 500 million smartphones and tablets with the Free Software
operating system have been sold so far, putting Free Software in the
hands of more people than ever before. But this is also an operating
system that sometimes limits what users can do with their phones, and
invites users to hand away private data. This is why we launched the
Free Your Android campaign to help empower citizens to take full
control of their mobile devices.</p>
<p>These new challenges are the latest in a series of long-standing problems that we have
been working on for years. Governments and the public sector should be
a natural customer base for Free Software companies and
developers. Yet, public bodies across Europe remain stuck in the
stranglehold of proprietary software vendors. We have continued
to work on fixing government procurement and wider Free Software
policies, whether in Brussels, London, Berlin or Helsinki.</p>
<p>We are proud to give the Free Software movement a voice in politics,
and policy makers increasingly turn to FSFE for expertise and
input. We helped the UK government shape its new Open Standards policy, and advised the German parliament on Free
Software issues.</p>
<p>We worked hard to get the Free Software message out. During 2012, FSFE
staff and Fellows gave more than 50 talks at events across
Europe. At many of these events, we also set up a booth where people
could easily find us to talk about Free Software, ask for help, and
learn about our work. In addition, we held more than 15 meetings, hackathons and workshops in countries such as Finland, the UK, Estonia and Austria.
The lawyers and engineers in the Legal Network which we facilitate brought the
latest in Free Software thinking to their companies and clients.</p>
<p>Thanks to all this work, and that of the many groups and individuals with
whom we join forces, the world is slowly changing. Every day, more people
wake up to the power of cooperation and sharing. Every day, more people
expect freedom by default.</p>
<p>Please join us, and help us get the world to live up to these
expectations. With your support we can do
it. Thank you for making our work possible!</p>
<p><i><a id="gerloff">Karsten Gerloff</a>, President, Free Software Foundation Europe</i></p>
<h2 id="achieved">What we have achieved in 2012</h2>
<h3 id="frontline">The new frontline: General purpose computing</h3>
<div class="captioned">
<img src="/news/2012/report-1212/karsten.jpg"/>
<p>Karsten Gerloff talking about software freedom</p>
<p>The Internet and computers in all their forms have become an essential
part of modern civilisation. They have deeply changed the way we live,
work, create, and dream. The technological progress we have seen over
the past couple of decades was only possible because of general
purpose computers -- computers that will perform any task we give them,
and networks that don't care what kind of data we transmit through
them, as our president Karsten explained in his talk called <a href="">All watched over by machines
of loving grace?"</a>.</p>
<p>But this freedom to make our computers do anything we can imagine is
under threat. Locked-down devices are everywhere, from the iPhone to
"smart" TVs and game consoles. If we let this trend continue, the only
freedom we will enjoy in a few years will be the freedom to choose our
<p>So we have made general purpose computing a focus topic for our
work. We want you to be in full control of the technology you use. The
limit for your ideas should be the boundaries of your imagination, not
some marketing department's plan to take more money from of you.</p>
<div class="captioned">
<img src="/news/2012/report-1212/chorlton.jpg"/>
<p>FSFE booth in Manchester</p>
<h4> Take charge of your phone</h4>
<p>We decided to start as close to the people as possible: in their
pockets. Your mobile phone is the most personal of your devices. It
knows who you talk to, where you are, and what your plans are. So it is
important that you have full control over what it does.</p>
<p>That is where our <a href="/activities/android/android.html">Free Your Android</a> campaign comes in. We organise
workshops to help people install operating systems on their phones
that don't tie them to a particular company or service provider, and
respect their privacy. At the end of the day participants don't just
have a better phone, but something even more important: The knowledge
that they can truly control the technology they use.</p>
<p>Torsten Grote, a former Fellowship representative, and new staffer
Erik Albers have run or supported nine workshops since August,
from Spain and Sweden through Germany and Italy to Slovenia and
Kosovo, with over 100 participants. <a href="">Get in touch</a> if you would like to
become a trainer and/or organise a workshop near you.</p>
<h4>Your freedom to install Free Software</h4>
<p>If you cannot install whatever software you choose on a computer, you
don't really own it. Many PCs and mobile devices that went on sale
from late 2012 come with a mechanism called "SecureBoot" ("Restricted
Boot" would be a more appropriate name) that would prevent you from
doing exactly that. We <a href="/freesoftware/secure-boot.html">accompanied this process,</a> and have made our
demands clear: Device owners must have complete and sole control of
their devices. This and other demands were echoed in a <a href="">white paper</a> by Germany's federal government. We will continue to raise this issue with
politicians, consumer protection groups and anyone else who can help
us defend your freedom.</p>
<div class="captioned">
<img src="/news/2012/report-1212/Torsten.jpg"/>
<p>Torsten Grote at a Free Your Android workshop</p>
<p>We also overhauled our <a href=""></a> website with fresh information about
digital restrictions management (DRM). Fellow Anna Morris and our campaign
manager Sam Tuke both spoke to the BBC: <a href="">Anna</a> about a conference for
women in Free Software that she helped to organise and <a href="">Sam</a> about teaching
kids how to program.</p>
<h4>Unlock digital handcuffs - use Open Standards</h4>
<p>This year's <a href="">Document Freedom Day</a> was the most successful yet of our
annual campaigns for <a href="/freesoftware/standards/standards.html">Open Standards</a>. Volunteers organised 54 events in
23 countries. Proprietary file formats are like digital handcuffs --
so we sent out 100 info packages to politicians and public figures,
each containing a letter and a set of handcuffs.</p>
<blockquote><p>Among the recipients
were Pope Benedict XVI. and EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes, who liked
the idea so much that she took the handcuffs along for one of her speeches.</p></blockquote>
<h3 id="rules">Making the rules</h3>
<p>We give the Free Software movement a voice in politics. We push for
rules that are good for software freedom, and work to get rid of those
that are bad for Free Software.</p>
<p>In May, the <a href="/news/2012/news-20120627-01.html">European Court of Justice ordered Microsoft</a> to finally pay
a record fine of 860 million euros for using its near-monopoly on the
desktop to keep rivals out of the workgroup server market. Microsoft
had previously spent over three billion Euro to buy third parties out
of the case. We stayed on the case for almost a decade, and asserted
the rights of Free Software developers to access interoperability
information, especially for the Samba Team. Samba is a Free Software
system for sharing files and printers that is a competitor to Microsoft's
proprietary products. The court eventually agreed with us: Receiving
the interoperability information was a right of the Free Software
community, not a concession by Microsoft.</p>
<p>The European Parliament
adopted <a href="/news/2012/news-20121208-01.html">an ill-conceived
compromise</a> for a single European patent system, opening the door
for even more patents on software to be granted and enforced. In the
years ahead, we will work hard to protect the Free Software community
from the negative consequences of this decision.</p>
<p>For almost two years, we worked with the UK government to help them
build a strong Open Standards policy. We were succesful: the
government in
November <a href="/news/2012/news-20120425-02.html">published a new
policy on Open Standards</a> and introduced some fundamental changes
to the way the government buys software. The country's government
bodies are now required to prefer Open Standards, and have to figure
exit costs into the price of any new solution they buy.</p>
<p>The German parliament asked Matthias Kirschner, our German team
coordinator, to participate in its experts' commission on Free
Software. He did a great job of speaking up for the Free Software
movement. We're expecting the group's recommendations to be published
in early 2013.</p>
<p>Our Finland coordinator Otto Kekäläinen together with lawyer Martin
Willebrandt <a href="/news/2012/news-20120619-01.html">monitored
calls for tender in Finland</a> to see if they mentioned brand names,
and <a hfref="/news/2012/news-20120711-01.html">took
Helsinki's city government to tas</a> for a botched OpenOffice pilot
project. In November, Otto received
the <a href="/news/2012/news-20121112-01.html">Nordic
Free Software Award</a> in recognition of the great job he's been
<p>In other countries, too, government procurement was a hot issue this
year. We helped the <a href="">Basque Country in Spain to make a rule</a> that
programs developed with public funds should be published as Free
Software. The governments of <a href="">Italy</a> and <a href="">France</a> told their public bodies
to prefer Free Software.</p>
<p>Our general counsel Carlo Piana and president Karsten Gerloff helped the European Parliament to <a href="">release some Free Software of its own</a>, and
answered legal and practical questions from the Parliament's IT
<blockquote><p>The software should become available by mid-2013. At the same
time, we <a href="">warned the Parliament's administration</a> that they were compromising staff politically by offering them gratis licenses to
proprietary software.</p></blockquote>
<div class="captioned">
<img src="/news/2012/report-1212/FYA.jpg"/>
<h3 id="legaldevelopers">Supporting developers with legal expertise</h3>
<p>Our <a href="/activities/ftf/ftf.html">legal team</a> helped more than 60 Free Software developers and
projects to resolve licensing questions and other legal problems. In
three "Hacking for Compliance" workshops, we trained volunteers to
analyse and report embedded devices for GPL violations, so that
the project could pursue them. Our General Counsel Carlo Piana and Legal Coordinator Matija Šuklje supported the Free Your Android campaign by making it clear that <a href="/news/2012/news-20121106-01.html">flashing your phone does not void your warranty</a>.</p>
<p>The international Legal Network which we facilitate continues to be
the premier place for Free Software legal experts to meet and exchange
views. The annual Free Software Legal and Licensing workshop, organised
by FSFE's Legal Team, attracted more than 60 lawyers, developers and
engineers. In two days of discussing compliance, governance and
patents, they contributed to a better understanding of how companies
and community groups can use Free Software to their advantage.</p>
<h2 id="work">Who is doing all the work</h2>
<p>FSFE's General Assembly decides on our strategy and oversees our
work. We welcomed two new members this year, bringing the total
to 17. Martin Gollowitzer is a long-term volunteer from Austria who
has consistently worked on the Fellowship. Nikos Roussos from Greece
was elected to serve a two-year term as a Fellowship representative
alongside Hugo Roy from France.</p>
<div class="captioned">
<img src="/news/2012/report-1212/viennabooth1.jpg"/>
<p>Software Freedom Day action in Vienna</p>
<p>After Erik joined the team in October to support volunteers'
activities throughout Europe, FSFE now has seven people on staff. Four
of these work full time, three part time. In addition, we had a number
of great interns this year, who made important contributions to our
work. Some of them have taken on responsibility coordinating
volunteers, such as Alessandro Polvani with the Italian team and
Eszter Bako with our policy team. We have a great set of interns lined
up for 2013, and are already looking forward to hosting them.</p>
<p>We couldn't have achieved the impact we made in 2012 without our
Fellows and volunteers. Many people contributed, each person with
their own special skills, for example as developers, system
administrators, or legal experts. The translators team helps us to spread the
word about Free Software across Europe and the world, by translating
our website into up to 30 languages.</p>
<h2 id="challenges">Challenges for 2013 and beyond</h2>
<div class="captioned">
<img src="/news/2012/report-1212/fsfe-ilovefs.png"/>
<p>On Valentine's Day, spread the love</p> </div>
<p>Gaining broad acceptance for Free Software was only the start. For
2013, we all face some important challenges:</p>
<li>Software patents: After the EU has reached a compromise on the
unitary patent, there is a risk that software patents will increasingly be asserted against European companies. FSFE will monitor
the unitary patent system as it develops and speak up for the
interests of those working with Free Software.</li>
<li>Lockdown:The flood of innovation based on the PC and the Internet
was made possible by general-purpose computers and neutral networks. Today, device makers and network operators increasingly
strangle innovation by artificially restricting devices and networks. FSFE builds awareness for the importance of general purpose
computing, and enables people to take innovation into their own hands again.</li>
<li>Public procurement:The public sector stands to benefit hugely from
Free Software, but outdated procurement practices stand in the
way. Working with public bodies, companies and regulators, FSFE explains how procurement practices must change, creating opportunities
for Free Software companies along the way.</li>
<li>Brand abuse: For many buyers of software and services Free Software
has come to stand for great software and great
value. Some companies are mislabeling their software to take
advantage, promising the user freedoms that they do not deliver. FSFE
will help users make informed choices to preserve their freedom.</li>
<h2 id="support">Support FSFE</h2>
<p>We ask you to help us tackle these challenges head-on. FSFE is financed through your
donations. As an individual, please<a href="">join the Fellowship</a>. As a company, please <a href="">donate to
FSFE</a>. Join the many <a Href="/donate/thankgnus.html">individuals and companies</a> who support our work, and help keep us independent.
Together, we can build a better society for all. </p>
<p>Donations to FSFE are tax-deductible in Germany, Switzerland and the
Netherlands. Less than 20% of our budget is spent on overhead costs,
and we are looking to further reduce this figure as we grow and
existing structures scale up.</p>
<tag key="annual-report"/>
<tag key="front-page"/>