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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
  2. <html newsdate="2010-12-04" type="newsletter">
  3. <version>1</version>
  4. <head>
  5. <title>FSFE Newsletter - December 2010</title>
  6. </head>
  7. <body>
  8. <h1>FSFE Newsletter - December 2010</h1>
  9. <p>This edition covers the current developments in Open Standards policy, some
  10. basic information about software patents, an update from FSCONS about
  11. distributed computing, and how you can support us in the end of the year. </p>
  12. <p>This month was the first time in FSFE's history that we had a booth at three
  13. conferences at the same date: the <a href="http://www.blit.org">Brandenburger Linux Infotag (BLIT)</a> in Potsdam/Germany, the <a href="http://www.fscons.org">Free Society Conference and Nordic
  14. Summit (FSCONS</a> in Göteburg/Sweden, and <a href="http://www.t-dose.org">T-DOSE</a> Eindhoven/The Netherlands. Our <a href="/campaigns/pdfreaders/pdfreaders.html">PDFreaders</a> campaign is quite
  15. successful: 31 public administrations already removed advertisements for
  16. non-free PDF readers from their websites, 8 of them added links to
  17. pdfreaders.org. FSFE's sysadmins <a href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/blog/2010/11/26/blogs-upgraded-more-information-on-the-wiki/">updated the Fellowship blog software</a>,
  18. and we gave several presentations to politicians, parties, the public
  19. administration, and the Berlin Debating Union. <a href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/fellowship-interviews/?p=156">This month Fellowship interview
  20. </a> is with Brian about free
  21. documentation, emacs org mode, and his understanding of software as a tool. And
  22. finally we would like to congratulate Bjarni Rúnar Einarsson, Free Software
  23. developer and community builder from Iceland, who has received the <a href="/news/2010/news-20101108-01.html">Nordic Free
  24. Software Award.</a></p>
  25. <h2> Open Standards: India - Europe 1:0 </h2>
  26. <p>This month <a href="http://egovstandards.gov.in/approved-standards/egscontent.2010-11-12.9124322046/at_download/file">India's government announced its Open Standards policy</a>,
  27. which is a huge success for the Free Software movement. The advantages for Free
  28. Software in India were definitely worth the three-year struggle with the
  29. proprietary software companies. When reading the government's papers you
  30. will <a href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/gerloff/?p=420">recognise several points</a> that were
  31. included in <a href="/activities/os/def.html">our Open Standards definition</a>, especially the ones already
  32. covered in the <a href="/news/nl/nl-201010.html">October edition of the newsletter</a>: that patents on standards should
  33. be available on a royalty-free basis. This policy will foster innovation in
  34. India's IT market, it will lead to smaller costs for the public administration,
  35. and will enable programmers to be more innovative.</p>
  36. <p>The European Commission is also setting out to reform Europe's standardisation
  37. system. Standardisation in Europe is currently dominated by a small number of
  38. organisations, mainly big companies. At the same time, much innovation is
  39. done by small and medium-sized companies. Although numerous, they do
  40. not really have a voice in standardisation. When having the opportunity to
  41. participate they often struggle because of a lack of time, money or expertise.
  42. So while the Indian document <a href="http://fosscomm.in/OpenStandards">improved between revisions</a>, the <a href="/activities/os/eifv2.html">European Interoperability Framework
  43. (EIF) has only got worse </a>. But with
  44. your ongoing support we can <a href="/activities/os/os.html">continue to explain the importance of Open
  45. Standards </a> to the European
  46. Commission and the member states, so they can provide us the same advantages as
  47. the Indian government. This month by participating at an joint <a href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/gerloff/?p=426">event from the
  48. European Commission and the European Patent Office</a>.</p>
  49. <h2> Software patents: Not another monopoly on software </h2>
  50. <p>Another topic we highlighted at the meeting from the European Commission and
  51. <a href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/mk/?p=690">in a radio interview (in German)</a> were
  52. software patents. </p>
  53. <p>To begin with, a patent is a monopoly on an idea, whereas copyright is a
  54. monopoly on a concrete implementation. While Bach's II symphony is covered by
  55. copyright, a patent would give a monopoly on the idea to combine bowed and wind
  56. instruments. Software falls under the copyright. This makes sense, with
  57. software you <a href="http://www.progfree.org/Patents/industry-at-risk.html">have little research costs, but you have to spend a lot of time
  58. implementing </a> the ideas
  59. to make sure there are no security problems, and you can easily maintain and
  60. adapt it in future. The idea to combine bowed and wind instruments is not a big
  61. challenge, the challenge is how to combine them so it still sounds good in the
  62. end.</p>
  63. <p>More and more people understand that <a href="http://en.swpat.org/wiki/All_businesses_are_targets">software patents are a problem for
  64. everybody </a>, no matter if
  65. big or small companies, individual software developers, users, non-free or Free
  66. Software. </p>
  67. <ul><li>The companies have to spent more money for their legal department, to
  68. register patents, to negotiate patent crosslicensing, and to defend
  69. themselves against patent claims. While for some time software patents are a
  70. nice tool for big companies to prevent newcomers to compete with them, they
  71. also have to face companies who only sue others on software patents, and
  72. never do any software development by themselves. Against them, any software
  73. company can only loose.</li>
  74. <li>For software developers software patents mean legal uncertainty: whenever you
  75. start programming you might violate law. You will never be able to find out
  76. if you violate a patent. Even if you read a software patent you might not
  77. realise it covers what you are currently implementing. With patents, we have
  78. to pay money to register them. On the other hand with copyright, everybody of
  79. us even those who just program as a hobby can write a program, and afterwards
  80. this falls under copyright without any additional costs. In fact, software
  81. patents can dispossess us as they can prevent from using the rights we get
  82. from copyright, e.g. to distribute the program to others. </li>
  83. <li>Users would have to pay for all those costs. Some people estimate that the
  84. patent costs for smartphones are about 20% of the actual price payed by the
  85. customer. </li></ul>
  86. <p>We will continue to get rid of that problem. In the US our sister organisation
  87. is working to <a href="http://www.fsf.org/blogs/software-patents-after-bilski">build awareness to the harm caused by software patents</a> and in New Zealand the
  88. government understood the problem and <a href="http://news.swpat.org/2010/03/new-zealand-govt-against-software-patents/">recommended in April to include computer
  89. programs amongst inventions that may not be patented</a>. In
  90. Europe the legislation has decided that software is not patentable. But laws
  91. are always interpreted by people, and in this case interpretations of the law
  92. differ. So the European Patents Office (EPO) grants software patents by
  93. declaring them as "computer implemented inventions". We will continue to work
  94. with our <a href="/about/fsfnetwork.html">sister organisations </a>,
  95. our <a href="http://www.ffii.org">associated organisation FFII </a>, and others to inform
  96. people about the dangers of software patents. We will explain the legislative
  97. that they have to make the laws more precise so that the patent offices have to
  98. act as intended. </p>
  99. <h2> Distributed computing at FSCONS </h2>
  100. <p>We know that distributed computing is not a brand new topic. In fact there is a
  101. 7:21 minutes <a href="http://www.archive.org/download/AllAboutPolymorphics/AllAboutPolymorphics.ogv">commercial from 1959 about it</a>,
  102. and some of the ideas might still be relevant for the current "cloud computing"
  103. discussion.</p>
  104. <p>Our part here was to host a track a this year's FSCONS called <a href="http://www.fscons.org/divide/">Divide and
  105. Reconquer </a>, which focused on the problem of the
  106. trend towards centralised non-free Internet services, and possible solutions.
  107. Thanks to <a href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/samtuke/?p=71">Sam's work </a> and our speakers, all
  108. five talks went well, each generating extensive discussion in the question and
  109. answer sessions. </p>
  110. <p>For example <a href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/fellowship-interviews/?p=156">this month Fellowship interviewee Brian Gough</a> even said to me after
  111. Michael Christen's demonstration of the peer to peer <a href="http://www.yacy.net">search engine Yacy</a>, that by the end of next year he only wants to use
  112. distributed search engines for his web searches. Sounds like a good New Year's
  113. resolution. We will continue to work on this topic and animate more people to
  114. think about it, discuss it with others and work on solutions. </p>
  115. <h2> Get Active: Buy presents and donate - our support programs </h2>
  116. <p>End of the year often means buying presents and donating money. There are some
  117. ways to combine those two things, for example our
  118. <a href="https://wiki.fsfe.org/SupportPrograms"> support programs</a>. So if you or some of
  119. your friends already use Libri or Amazon to buy presents, please inform them
  120. about the possibility to support us. </p>
  121. <ul><li>If you buy books from <a href="http://www.bookzilla.de">bookzilla.de</a> we will receive
  122. around 5% of the sales as a donation.</li>
  123. <li>If you have installed <a href="https://wiki.fsfe.org/SupportPrograms">our plugin </a>
  124. around 5% of your sale from amazon is donated to FSFE. </li></ul>
  125. <p>You can <a href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/maelle/?p=94">read Maëlle's blog post </a> to find
  126. out how much was donated through those ways. If you buy your books and other
  127. presents from other shops, you can of course support FSFE through a <a href="https://my.fsfe.org/donate">one time
  128. donation </a> or on a regular basis by
  129. <a href="https://my.fsfe.org/donate">becoming a Fellow of FSFE </a>. </p>
  130. <p>Best Regards,<br/>
  131. <a href="/about/people/kirschner">Matthias Kirschner </a> - <a href="/">FSFE</a></p>
  132. <p>-- <br />
  133. <a href="/index.html">Free Software Foundation Europe</a><br />
  134. <a href="/news/news.rss">FSFE News</a><br />
  135. <a href="/events/events.rss">Upcoming FSFE Events</a><br />
  136. <a href="https://planet.fsfe.org/en/rss20.xml">Fellowship Blog Aggregation</a><br />
  137. <a href="/contact/community.html">Free Software Discussions</a> </p>
  138. </body>
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