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<html newsdate="2014-12-18">
<title> FSFE's work in 2014</title>
<body microformats="h-entry">
<h1 class="p-name">FSFE's work in 2014</h1>
<p>We shape tomorrow's world by what we do today. FSFE helps people to
understand how technology affects their rights and freedoms, and
empowers them to determine their own path in the digital world. See
what we achieved in 2014, and where we're going next!</p>
<blockquote><p>Free Software has never been more necessary to
journalists and activists throughout the world. FSFE helps shape a
world where technology empowers us, instead of oppressing
us. </p>
<cite>Amaelle Guiton, journalist on hacker culture and privacy</cite></blockquote>
<p>I would like to share with you an overview of the work we did
during the year of 2014. The support of FSFE's Fellows and donors
has let us reach more people than ever before, and has allowed us to
make an important impact. It has also allowed us to invest time and
effort into making FSFE more effective. Importantly in a time of
countless industry front groups, their contributions have helped to
keep FSFE the way we like it: Fiercely independent and oriented
towards the long term.
<p>Please enjoy our annual overview. Thank you for helping us make the
world a better place!</p>
<div id="toc">
<li><a href="#telling-the-world-about-free-software">Telling the world about Free Software</a></li>
<li><a href="#changing-the-rules">Changing the rules</a></li>
<li><a href="#our-free-software-legal-work">Our Free Software legal work</a></li>
<li><a href="#making-fsfe-better">Making FSFE better</a></li>
<li><a href="#fsfes-finances">FSFE's finances</a></li>
<li><a href="#where-fsfes-funds-come-from">Where FSFE's funds come from</a></li>
<li><a href="#how-we-spend-the-money">How we spend the money</a></li>
<li><a href="#whats-ahead-in-2015">What's ahead in 2015</a></li>
<h2 id="telling-the-world-about-free-software">Telling the world about
Free Software</h2>
<p>Getting the Free Software message to as many people as possible is
one of the main things we do at FSFE. Working with FSFE's Fellows,
friends, and allies, we help people understand how software freedom
lets them take charge of the technology in their lives.</p>
<p>FSFE's Fellows are great ambassadors for software freedom. The
Zurich Fellowship group really came alive this year. The group
published a detailed position paper on the ability of Swiss public
bodies to distribute Free Software, and set up a version of the Free
Software pact campaign for local elections. These volunteers
established a country team in Switzerland, ran a local Free
Software Pact campaign, and published a position paper on the OpenJustitia
<p>Another team of Fellows got together to form a country team in the
Netherlands which runs privacy cafes, booths at events, and boosts
local Fellowship engagement.</p>
<p>For this
year's <em><a href="">Document
Freedom Day</a></em> campaign, we worked with volunteers around the
world to explain and promote Open Standards at 51 events in 21
<div class="captioned">
<img src="graphics/dfd-venezuela.jpg"/>
<p>Document Freedom Day
in <a href="">El
Tigre, Venezuela</a></p>
<p>In Munich, Germany, the local Fellowship group had a big media
impact during the local elections in Munich this year, working to
secure the city's use of Free Software amid political change. The
group continues to closely follow the political process, and to build
resistance in the city administration to the aggressive lobbying of
some proprietary vendors.</p>
<p><strong>Events and conferences</strong> are still the single best venue to
establish personal links with people who might be interested in Free
Software. We explained Free Software in talks, workshops, panel
discussions, radio shows and several times on TV. For many of these
events, FSFE's Fellows took charge of organising our participation and
staffing the booth. In addition to the usual IT conferences and
events, we expanded our reach to cover street festivals in Munich and
Düsseldorf (Germany), as well as festivals and game conferences in
Vienna. This new outreach angle worked well, and we want to be present
at many other such events next year.</p>
<p>Quite frequently, these events are also an opportunity for people
to seek FSFE's help and support with moving their own organisations
along the path to Free Software. In this way, we helped the protestant
church in the German Rhineland
to <a href="">build
Free Software into its IT strategy</a>, and are currently engaged in a
similar conversation with the European Commission and the European
<div class="captioned">
<img src="graphics/istanbul-nermin-kg.jpg"/>
<p>Turkish DFD volunteer Nermin Canik and Karsten Gerloff in Istanbul</p>
<p>Of course, we don't just rely on campaigns and events. We spread
the word about Free Software every day, and help others do the
same. Often, our wonderful team of translators helps us do this in
local languages. During 2014, our monthly newsletter was translated
into six languages on average. The same volunteers help us make FSFE's
website available in up to 30 languages.</p>
<p>People who want to talk about Free Software to their friends and
neighbours can order information packs through our website. We are
currently sending out ten packs per month on average. People can order
these free of
charge <a href="/contribute/spreadtheword.html#promo-material">through
our website</a>, though of course we appreciate donations to cover
printing and shipping costs. Both our introductory Free Software
leaflet and our F-Droid leaflet are available in five languages. We
recently added a flyer on “email self defence” in German and
English (more languages will be available soon); demand for this has
been so great that we have already done three print runs of
this. Volunteers distributed this flyer at the premiere screenings of
the movie “Citizenfour”.</p>
<h2 id="changing-the-rules">Changing the rules</h2>
<p>Governments make the rules. By working with politicians and
administrators, FSFE makes sure that laws and institutions put human
rights and freedoms first.</p>
<p>For the European elections in May 2014, we helped the French Free
Software association April with the
<em><a href="">Free Software Pact</a></em>. We
invited candidates in those elections to sign the pact, asking them to
commit to using their European Parliament mandate to promote Free
Software. Many of FSFE's Fellows got in touch with the candidates in
their area to ask them. 33 of the pact's signatories are currently
serving as Members of the European Parliament. We will repeat this
effort for other elections. Preparations are currently under way for
Switzerland's 2015 elections. With more resources available, we could
put more time into following up with signatories, and using the
contact we've built through the campaign to let them know what they
should do in order to improve the situation for Free Software.</p>
<div class="captioned">
<img src="graphics/berlin-demo-eal.jpg"/>
<p>Taking Free Software to street - Berlin</p>
<p>In order to put users in charge of their devices, we kept pushing
on “<em>trusted computing</em>” and
<em><a href="/freesoftware/secure-boot.html">SecureBoot</a></em>”. We
brought this issue with Germany's Federal Information Security
Office, and to the ministries of economics and interior. At the EU
level, we initiated conversations about alternatives such as
CoreBoot. We are pushing to ensure that consumers have the
possibility to install alternative operating systems on the devices
they buy and own. Our goal is to use the progress we have made in
Germany to create progress in other European countries, and finally
put device owners in full control of their hard- and software.</p>
<p>On <em>public procurement</em>, we pushed hard for the European
Commission to improve the way it acquires software, in order to open
up opportunities for Free Software and Open Standards. Using the
<a href="">freedom
of information</a>” mechanism, as well as parliamentary
questions, we got the Commission to
release <a href="">documents</a>
about the way its contracts with Microsoft and other providers of
non-free software are structured. We also obtained a document
outlining the EC's [desktop software strategy] [pdf] for the coming
years. This effort has opened the doors to several meetings with
high-level IT decision makers in the Commission and the Parliament,
and has enabled us to start a constructive conversation with them
about what steps to take next. For example, the Commission has asked
us to provide input to the next version of its “open source
<p>The router that connects your home to the Internet should be under
your control. That's why we have followed developments on the issue
of <em>compulsory routers</em>. We have published position papers,
and documented
both <a href="/activities/routers/routers.html">the
arguments</a> and
the <a href="/activities/routers/timeline.html">process</a>
in German, English, and Dutch. We supported other organisations with
arguments and technical expertise, such as the Federation of German
Consumer Organisations. Germany's ministry of economics is currently
working on a draft law to enable free router choice for consumers,
and prohibit compulsory routers.</p>
<h2 id="our-free-software-legal-work">Our Free Software legal
<p>Freedom faces many challenges. FSFE builds networks among the
people who can do most to break down the barriers on the way to a
free society.</p>
<p>We facilitate the world's largest network of legal experts on Free
Software, with currently more than 360 members (up from 320 last
year). Participating experts come from a wide range of backgrounds,
from corporate legal departments to lawyers in private practice, and
engineers with legal skills. The network serves to develop and
spread best practices around Free Software, and increase
acceptance. Several participants have called the network's annual
meeting, the Free Software Legal &amp; Licensing Workshop, the best
event of its kind in the world.</p>
<div class="captioned">
<img src="graphics/ThereIsNoCloud.jpg"/>
<p>Our favourite sticker this year.</p>
<p>This year, we
also <a href="/news/2014/news-20140314-01.html">launched</a>
the Asian Legal Network as a discussion forum specifically targeted
at the companies in that region, which make most of the world's
computing hardware and embedded devices. Run jointly with the Open
Invention Network and the Linux Foundation, this group is intended
to help those companies join the global conversation on Free
Software best practices, and assist them in improving license
<p>FSFE's <a href="/activities/ftf/ftf.html">legal
team</a> again handled several dozen inquiries from developers and
companies about copyright, licensing, trademarks, patents, and many
other aspects of Free Software. Our legal coordinator Matija Šuklje
also answered lots of in-person questions at conferences and events,
as well as at Ljubljana's CyberPipe hackerspace, where he works one
day a week.</p>
<h2 id="making-fsfe-better">Making FSFE better</h2>
<p>This year, we set aside some time to review FSFE's goals, and the
ways in which we pursue them. We conducted a stakeholder survey to
learn more about the people who take an interest in FSFE, talked to
many of our friends and allies in person about FSFE's work and
direction, and reviewed our activities.</p>
<p>With a small group of internal and external experts, we hammered
out a better way to explain FSFE's purpose that concisely reflects
the direction we want the organisation to take for the coming
years. This was an intense and highly productive internal
process. The results will become visible over time, as FSFE's edge
grows sharper, and we become more effective than we already are.</p>
<h2 id="fsfes-finances">FSFE's finances</h2>
<p>This section is based on our financial results at the end of Q3
2014. FSFE's information for previous financial years
is <a href="/about/funds/index.html">available
online</a>. We will post the final numbers for 2014 as soon as
they become available.</p>
<h3 id="where-fsfes-funds-come-from">Where FSFE's funds come from</h3>
<p>FSFE has an annual budget of roughly 400,000 Euro. 35% of this is
covered by Fellowship contributions. 25% is covered by sponsoring
for specific activities (mostly the
annual <a href="/activities/ln/llw.html">Free
Software Legal &amp; Licensing Workshop</a>,
and <a href="">Document Freedom
Day</a>). 20% comes from three big donors (Google, Linuxhotel and
Red Hat), and 15% from smaller corporate or private donations
(see <a href="/donate/thankgnus.html">our list of
donors</a>. The rest comes from sources such as merchandise sales,
speaker fees and so on.</p>
<p>75% of FSFE's income is unrestricted, while 25% are tied to
specific purposes -- mostly the sponsoring mentioned above.</p>
<div class="captioned">
<img src="graphics/rmll-fsfe-2014.jpg"/>
<p>FSFE's booth at <a href="">RMLL 2014</a>.</p>
<p>In sum, roughly half of FSFE's funds come from a limited number of
large <a href="/donate/thankgnus.html">donors</a>
and sponsors (and let's not forget
our <a href="/donate/hardware.html">hardware
donors</a>). The other half comes from countless small
contributions from individuals and companies, in particular through
the Fellowship. Fellowship contributions have shown reliable and
constant growth, increasing by 164% since 2010. This is great, since
they are the bedrock of FSFE's financial independence. In effect,
they put us in the wonderful position to pursue our work for freedom
without being worrying whether our initiatives might annoy our large
<h3 id="how-we-spend-the-money">How we spend the money</h3>
<p>This section is based on
our <a href="/about/funds/2013.html">financial
results for 2013</a>. We will publish the figures for 2014 as soon
as they become available; the distribution of costs across different
categories is going to be similar to the 2013 results.</p>
<p>Across nearly all categories, our largest cost factor are staff
salaries. We have a great team of experienced and dedicated people,
and by paying them a living wage, we make it possible for them to
dedicate their working time to Free Software.</p>
<p>The largest cost center is public awareness, where we spent 30% of
our funds in 2013. Most of this went into staff salaries for
campaigns and general public awareness work. The rest paid for
FSFE's participation in events (mostly travel-related costs) and
informationation materials.</p>
<p>About 22% of our spending went to FSFE's legal work. We used this
to pay the salary of our legal coordinator, and travel to
legal-related events. A large chunk of our spending in this category
went towards organising the annual conference of the Legal Network;
we cover the cost of these events through sponsoring and ticket
<p>Roughly 13% of our 2013 spending went towards the
Fellowship. Again, most of this was for the salaries of our staff
that support the Fellows in being effective ambassadors for Free
Software. We also organised a meeting of European coordinators that
year (to be repeated in 2015), and made money available for local
activities by Fellowship groups.</p>
<p>Pretty much exactly the same share of spending went to FSFE's
policy work. Here, the cost structure is very simple. Nearly all of
the funds we spend on policy work go towards staff salaries. Most of
the rest serves to cover travel costs for policy work, with Brussels
as the most frequent destination.</p>
<p>About two percent of our costs in 2013 were for merchandise,
covering mostly production (buying) costs and staff time. Of course,
these costs were more than covered by the money we made selling said
<p>About 20% of our costs (19.2% in 2013, to be exact) are overhead
spending, covering personnel costs for management and
administration, team meetings (we are a pretty distributed
organisation), rent for office space, phone bills, and so
forth. We're trying hard to keep the overhead rate low; but there's
no escaping the fact that an organisation like FSFE needs some level
of management and coordination in order to remain effective.</p>
<h2 id="whats-ahead-in-2015">What's ahead in 2015</h2>
<p>During the coming months, the new <em>European Commission</em> will
set the direction of its work for the next five years. During the
past year, we have built a number of high-level connections in the
Commission and the Parliament, and we are itching to leverage
these. In addition, we are currently receiving numerous inquiries
from Commission staff with whom we have built long-standing
relationships, and who currently see open doors for Free Software in
<p>It is important that we can intensify our work as soon as possible,
and take advantage of this opportunity to improve the situation for
Free Software and Open Standards at the EU level. Software
procurement, standardisation, patents, and device sovereignty are
core topics for our policy work.</p>
<p>We want to <em>reach more people</em>, and go to more places where
people do not yet know about Free Software. This is why we will
further strengthen FSFE's network of local volunteers and Fellowship
groups. In 2015, we plan to be present at street festivals and other
events where until now, nobody has been promoting Free Software. We
have greatly improved our leaflets, stickers, and other printed
information materials over the past year. Now we will translate it
into more languages, and expand its distribution libraries, cinemas,
shops, and other places.</p>
<p>In the long run, we want to make sure that anyone who hears about
Free Software in Europe can easily find a knowledgeable person close
to them to help them along their path. That's why we will focus
on <em>supporting local activities</em> in various ways. We're
preparing a workshop for the European coordinators of FSFE's
volunteer teams, in order to help them and their teams become more
effective activists. We will enable activists to visit Fellowship
groups in other places, teach their skills, and share their
experiences. And we will make our promotion materials available in
even more languages.</p>
<p>As we prepare to take on these challenges, we are grateful for the
huge support we are experiencing, and for our Fellows' unrelenting passion for freedom!</p>
<p>Sincerely,<br />
Karsten Gerloff <br />
President, Free Software Foundation Europe
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