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<title>FSFE Newsletter - June 2010</title>
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<body>
<h1>FSFE Newsletter - June 2010</h1>
<p>May was quite busy, for the first time we
participated in a big church event to inform visitors about Free
Software. We analysed the European Commission's Digital Agenda, and
there was news about free video formats.</p>
<p>But why are we working on all those things? Because it is important
for society. Today software is everywhere, in our desktops, laptops, and
mobile phones as well as in cars, trains, TVs, fridges - any complex
device you care to name. Software is not just a tool like a car; it is
everywhere and will become even more important in future.</p>
<p>Control over software means power. Whoever controls the software
decides what you can and what you cannot do with it. In democracies we
separate and distribute power amongst a lot of different people. The
control of software as such a powerful tool of our society has to be
distributed as well. If more and more parts of our life are controlled
by software, the software needs to be Free Software.</p>
<p>This month we received the Theodor Heuss medal for exactly this work
for society. The Theodor Heuss Foundation which awarded the medal is a
non-partisan foundation which carries the name of Germany's first
president. The foundation seeks "to bring attention to something, which
has to be done and shaped in our democracy, without being finished"
(Carl Friedrich v. Weizsäcker, 1965). The Theodor Heuss prize is given
annually to persons of high standing and organisations which are
groundbreaking in this respect.</p>
<p>This award gives Free Software supporters recognition outside the
usual software scene. It shows that a well-known political foundation
agrees that Free Software is good for our society and that FSFE is doing
a good job. This is a door-opener to reach a broader audience in
feature, especially politicians. At the ceremony and the day before at
the workshop Bernhard Reiter, Björn Schießle, Georg Greve, Karsten
Gerloff, other Fellows and I myself had good discussions with a lot of
political interested persons with different backgrounds (see <a
href="/news/2010/news-20100126-01.html">[1]</a> <a
href="/news/2010/news-20100510-01.html">[2]</a> <a
href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/gerloff/?p=350">[3]</a>).</p>
<p><strong>Enlarging the audience</strong> Speaking about a broader
audience, for the first first time we participated at the ecumenical
church day in Munich, Germany. While we have given talks at church
events before to explain the values of Free Software, it was the
completely new experience for us to participate in an event of this
size, with 130,000 visitors. Thomas Jensch organised a shared booth with
KDE e.V. to explain the participants why they as Christians should care
about Free Software (see <a
href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/gladhorn/2010/05/18/going-where-no-gearheads-have-gone-before/">
[4]</a>).</p>
<p><strong>Open Standards and politics</strong> Open Standards are
important to ease the migration path to Free Software. This month the
European Commission published the Digital Agenda. It is good that the
Commission plans to give standards a greater role in the public
procurement of software, and to get dominant software vendors to license
their interoperability information, opening up the software market for
Free Software vendors. However the EC avoids all references to Open
Standards as well as Free Software, although the Member States set those
goals for the Commission in the Granada and Malmö declarations. Instead,
the Commission points to the European Interoperability Framework. This
is a document which is currently being systematically hollowed out, as
shown by FSFE's analysis <a href="/freesoftware/standards/eifv2.html">[5]</a>. We
outlined that the EC needs to adopt a strict definition of Open
Standards, along the lines of the first European Interoperability
Framework (EIF), and that the Commission needs to focus on Open
Standards for its public sector IT strategy to enable the full potential
of Free Software for European innovation (see <a
href="/news/2010/news-20100519-01.html">[6]</a>).</p>
<p><strong>Free Video Formats</strong> Good news about open video
formats. In March both our sister organisation the FSF and our
associated organisation FFII asked Google to free the video codec vp8
and use it on YouTube. This month Google announced they will do so. From
now on users will be able use Free Software to play and encode the new
WebM format. "WebM is based on the Matroska container format --
replacing Ogg -- and the VP8 video codec which replaces Theora.
Crucially, the Vorbis audio codec is part of the new WebM
specification." (see <a
href="http://www.fsf.org/news/free-software-foundation-statement-on-webm-and-vp8">[7]</a>
and <a
href="http://press.ffii.org/Press%20releases/FFII%20welcomes%20Google%27s%20move%20to%20open%20VP8%20video%20format">[8]</a>).</p>
<p>The other good news, since a few days the German ARD news program
tagessschau is available in Ogg Theora. After the public radio station
Dradio is broadcasting its program in OGG vorbis you can now watch the
tagesschau with Free Software <a
href="http://www.tagesschau.de/tagesschau24/">[9]</a> and do not have
to install proprietary software like the Adobe's flash player (see <a
href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/mk/?p=581">[10]</a>).</p>
<p><strong>Get Active</strong> We depend on the help of many volunteers
to evaluate current topics. If you want to help Free Software in Europe
please subscribe to our public mailing lists <a
href="/contact/community.html">[11]</a> and participate in the
discussion sharing your knowledge with others. You have dived into a
topic like free video formats, found an interesting article about Free
Software, you think we missed an important point in a discussion, or you
want to give us feedback on the newsletter? Get active and share this
information with other Free Software supporters on
discussion@lists.fsfe.org.</p>
<p>Regards,<br /> <a href="/about/people/kirschner/kirschner.html">Matthias Kirschner</a>- FSFE</p>
<p>-- <br />
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