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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
  2. <html>
  3. <head>
  4. <title>FSFE's year 2010 - a letter from the President</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body>
  7. <h1>FSFE's year 2010 - a letter from the President</h1>
  8. <div id="introduction">
  9. <p>
  10. We have had an eventful year, and a good one. In the following
  11. text you will find background links to our various activities.
  12. Please take this opportunity to get a much more complete
  13. picture of our present and future work for Free Software.
  14. </p>
  15. </div>
  16. <h2>Awards and recognition for FSFE's work</h2>
  17. <p>
  18. We celebrated not one, but two awards this year. In May, <a href="/news/2010/news-20100126-01.html">FSFE received
  19. the Theodor Heuss Medal</a>. During a grand ceremony with numerous German
  20. political luminaries in Stuttgart in May, Ludwig Heuss, Director of
  21. the Theodor Heuss Foundation, praised FSFE's work for freedom in the
  22. information society:
  23. </p>
  24. <p>
  25. "Free Software Foundation Europe receives the Theodor Heuss Medal
  26. 2010 because it competently contributes to creating new rules for
  27. social, political and legal conditions for digital freedom through
  28. Free Software."
  29. </p>
  30. <p>
  31. A week earlier, on the 28th of April, FSFE's founding President <a href="/news/2010/news-20100428-01.html">
  32. Georg Greve was awarded the
  33. German Federal Cross of Merit</a> (Bundesverdienstkreuz) in recognition of
  34. his great achievements in promoting Free Software with FSFE. To our
  35. knowledge, this is the first time that any country in the world
  36. bestows such an honour on any Free Software activist. This is a
  37. well-deserved reward for many years of hard work. Congratulations,
  38. Georg!
  39. </p>
  40. <h2>Divide and re-conquer</h2>
  41. <p>
  42. Such recognition is of course a huge motivation. But there is no time
  43. to rest on our laurels. Technology evolves, and Free Software
  44. advocates everywhere need to face up to new challenges. Many people
  45. are coming to rely more and more on web services, software as a
  46. service and "cloud computing" for different purposes, such as email,
  47. online data storage, or social networking. The freedoms that define
  48. Free Software -- to use, study, share and improve a program -- are
  49. tailored towards programs running on computers we control. Can we find
  50. a way to defend those freedoms in a world where much of our computing
  51. happens on machines controlled by others? How can we win those
  52. freedoms back where they've already been lost?
  53. </p>
  54. <p>
  55. The best bet for an answer to these questions are decentralised
  56. systems; systems which provide the services that users are looking
  57. for, but which have no central controlling node. What exactly would
  58. such systems need to look like to preserve our freedoms, and how can
  59. they be built? To inspire users and developers to think about these
  60. questions, we gave <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNhlOlGInHE">talks</a>
  61. at different events across Europe and even as
  62. far afield as the FISL event in Porto Alegre, Brazil. At the Free
  63. Society Conference (<a href="http://fscons.org/">FSCONS</a>)
  64. in Gothenburg in November we organised a
  65. whole track on the topic, under the title <a href="http://fscons.org/divide">"Divide and
  66. re-conquer"</a>. Here we brought together people who are working on
  67. projects that break up the central point of control and replace it
  68. with decentralised systems, such as Appleseed's Michael Chisari,
  69. Benjamin Bayart of the user-owned ISP French Data Network, and FSFE's
  70. Torsten Grote, who explained why the concentration of power and data
  71. in the hands of a few companies is a problem, and how decentralised
  72. systems can help us to re-conquer our freedoms.
  73. </p>
  74. <h2>Campaigning for Free Software and Open Standards</h2>
  75. <p>
  76. <a href="/activities/os/os.html">Open Standards</a> are essential for Free
  77. Software. Free Software relies
  78. on Open Standards to interoperate with other programs. If public
  79. sector organisations and businesses use Open Standards, citizens are
  80. not forced to use proprietary software to communicate with them, while
  81. the organisations themselves can throw off the shackles of dependence
  82. on a single software vendor.
  83. </p>
  84. <p>
  85. For these reasons, we continued to invest a lot of time and effort
  86. into Open Standards this year. The <a href="http://documentfreedom.org/2010/summary-2010">Document
  87. Freedom Day</a> campaign saw
  88. groups around the world celebrating Open Standards and open document
  89. formats on March 31, with events taking place from Argentina to
  90. Vietnam and in many European countries.
  91. </p>
  92. <p>
  93. The European Commission is currently finishing its long-awaited
  94. revision of the European Interoperability Framework, a recommendation
  95. to public bodies across Europe on how to make their IT systems talk to
  96. each other. The original version from 2004 strongly backed Open
  97. Standards and was very influential. The revised version, which we
  98. expect to be published shortly, is likely to be
  99. <a href="/activities/os/eifv2.html">heavily watered down</a>
  100. in this regard.
  101. </p>
  102. <p>
  103. As we <a href="/news/2010/news-20101016-01.html">fought tooth and nail</a>
  104. to retain at least a mention of Open
  105. Standards in the document, we raised a lot of attention for the topic
  106. within the European Commission and the European public sector. We also
  107. <a href="http://blogs.fsfe.org/gerloff/?p=426">participated in the reform
  108. of the European standardisation system</a> that
  109. is currently underway, with FSFE's President Karsten Gerloff setting
  110. out the key issues for Free Software in standardisation at a
  111. conference organised by the European Commission and the European
  112. Patent Office in November.
  113. </p>
  114. <p>
  115. If the public sector asks for software based on Open Standards, Free
  116. Software companies can bid for contracts, and will have more money to
  117. invest in development. We have been monitoring public procurement
  118. around Europe. When the Italian region of South Tyrol extended a
  119. contract for proprietary software licenses without a tender, we raised
  120. <a href="/news/2010/news-20100702-01.html">a very public alarm</a>.
  121. But rather than just criticising the province, we
  122. offered the administration help to do better next time. This resulted
  123. in a Round Table with local Free Software experts which is now making
  124. real, long-term progress in developing fairer procurement
  125. practices. We hope to create an example here for other public
  126. administrations to follow.
  127. </p>
  128. <p>
  129. Our <a href="/campaigns/pdfreaders/pdfreaders.html">pdfreaders campaign</a>
  130. has convinced dozens of public bodies across
  131. Europe to advertise <a href="http://pdfreaders.org">Free Software PDF readers</a>.
  132. Supported by hundreds
  133. of volunteers across Europe, we contacted public bodies in 33
  134. countries, told them about Free Software and Open Standards, and asked
  135. them to replace or complement their advertisements for proprietary PDF
  136. readers with links to free ones.
  137. </p>
  138. <p>
  139. At the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), <a href="/activities/wipo/wipo.html">
  140. our persistent work</a> is bearing fruit. Though change in this international
  141. organisation is slow, it is visible. We
  142. <a href="http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=19684">analysed the risks of software
  143. patents and the benefits of Open Standards</a> for delegates from patent
  144. offices around the world. We also had productive discussion with
  145. member states and WIPO staff on how Free Software can become a
  146. permanent element in the organisation's activities. The organisation
  147. is still far from becoming the World Intellectual Wealth Organisation
  148. that we called for six years ago, but it is slowly opening up to the
  149. ideas of Free Software and knowledge sharing. WIPO has commissioned a
  150. number of studies on these subjects, which it used to ignore. Once the
  151. results are in, we will push for the organisation to make these
  152. topics a regular part of its work.
  153. </p>
  154. <p>
  155. After the departure of FTF coordinator Adriaan de Groot in April,
  156. we focused the work of our legal department on core tasks. The
  157. <a href="/activities/ftf/network.html">European Legal Network</a> has grown to become the world's largest network
  158. of Free Software specialists from the legal profession. The
  159. invite-only environment provides a protected space for sensitive
  160. discussions and an open, honest exchange of views. The network's
  161. yearly workshop in Amsterdam was a resounding success. The network
  162. also <a href="https://wiki.fsfe.org/EuropeanLegalNetwork/LinkingDocument">
  163. produced a document on interactions between different software
  164. components</a>, delivering a structured set of views on a complex and
  165. obscure domain. We maintain our <a href="/activities/ftf/fiduciary.html">copyright
  166. assignment tool</a> for projects
  167. that wish to use it, and answer a steady stream of legal and licensing
  168. questions from the community.
  169. </p>
  170. <h2>Behind the scenes</h2>
  171. <p>
  172. Internally, there was housekeeping to do. Our infrastructure, both
  173. software and hardware, is getting a makeover. The volunteer web team
  174. is progressively making the website more informative, while our system
  175. administrators make sure that our servers are stable and secure. We
  176. are making our internal processes more efficient, so that we can focus
  177. on working for Free Software.
  178. </p>
  179. <p>
  180. As always, a lot of our work is being done by volunteers. They make it
  181. possible for FSFE to connect to Free Software activists across Europe,
  182. and to be present at dozens of events in many countries every
  183. year. Besides the usual Free Software conferences, we also branched
  184. out into events for a broader audience such as the German Kirchentag,
  185. attended by 130,000 people, where we had a successful
  186. booth. Volunteers also maintain our website and make it available in
  187. up to 30 different languages. Volunteers have launched a new country
  188. team in France and a very active Fellowship group in Slovenia. Most
  189. importantly, they carry the Free Software message into their
  190. workplaces, their universities, and their circle of friends. This is
  191. the time to send all of them a big "thank you!".
  192. </p>
  193. <p>
  194. All of our activities were supported by FSFE's interns. This year,
  195. four talented young people worked with us, diving headlong into the
  196. Free Software world and doing much of the legwork required to make
  197. campaigns, events and policy work happen.
  198. </p>
  199. <h2>Looking into 2011</h2>
  200. <p>
  201. In 2011, FSFE will turn ten years old. We have come far, as your
  202. support and the hard work of many committed people have turned us into
  203. Europe's most respected Free Software advocacy organisation. But we
  204. have so much further yet to go.
  205. </p>
  206. <p>
  207. We want to help the community build systems that respect our freedom,
  208. as computing moves increasingly into the network. Building on the
  209. awareness we have raised for distributed systems, we will bring
  210. together people working in this field and look for ways to let them
  211. join forces and make them stronger.
  212. </p>
  213. <p>
  214. It's a safe bet that Open Standards and standardisation reform will
  215. keep us busy in 2011. Preparations are already well underway for
  216. Document Freedom Day on March 30. We will continue to push for a
  217. market that is open to Free Software, and for a standardisation system
  218. that respects the needs of Free Software users, developers and
  219. companies.
  220. </p>
  221. <p>
  222. Software patents are creeping back onto the agenda, in different
  223. guises. We will push for patents to be licensed without restrictions
  224. when they are included in standards. The European Commission has
  225. lately started to once more drive the idea of a single European
  226. patent. For software, much will depend on how such a system is
  227. implemented. FSFE will be monitoring the details, giving input and
  228. applying pressure as needed.
  229. </p>
  230. <p>
  231. Our legal department has been extremely successful in bringing
  232. together experts on legal aspects of Free Software, and in helping
  233. developers with information on licensing issues. In 2011, we will
  234. reposition the department to be even more useful to the community.
  235. </p>
  236. <h2>Thank you for your support!</h2>
  237. <p>
  238. All this work costs money. Almost all of <a href="/donate/thankgnus.html">
  239. FSFE's funding</a> comes from
  240. <a href="/donate/donate.html">your donations</a>
  241. and your Fellowship contributions. Your support not
  242. only lets us do all this work, and more. Most importantly, it lets us
  243. stay independent of any particular interests. This independence is not
  244. a luxury. It is the basic prerequisite for the work that we do. Thank
  245. you for making it possible!
  246. </p>
  247. <p>
  248. We are working to make it easier for you to donate and pay Fellowship
  249. contributions on a monthly basis. Receiving monthly payments
  250. lets us calculate our budget more reliably, and keeps the cash
  251. flow smooth throughout the year. We are also currently working to make
  252. tax-free donations possible from a number of European countries.
  253. </p>
  254. <p>
  255. We hope for your continued support as we are confronting these
  256. challenges head-on. On behalf of all FSFE staff and volunteers, I wish
  257. you happy holidays. Celebrate them in freedom, rest a bit, and gather
  258. strength for the challenges and battles coming in 2011. It will be an
  259. exciting year. I invite you to keep working for software freedom along
  260. with us.
  261. </p>
  262. <p>
  263. With the best wishes for a free 2011,<br/>
  264. Karsten Gerloff<br/>
  265. President, Free Software Foundation Europe
  266. </p>
  267. </body>
  268. <timestamp>$Date: 2010-10-09 11:30:07 +0200 (sam. 09 oct. 2010) $ $Author: mk $</timestamp>
  269. </html>