November 2: Save the date! EmacsConf is coming to Boston

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is happy to announce our office in Boston as the next official EmacsConf satellite! Join us on Saturday, November 2 for an all-day event on everyone's favorite self-documenting, customizable, and extensible editor: GNU Emacs! The FSF will join Zürich, Switzerland as the second physical satellite to EmacsConf, which will be held online this year.

Beginning at 9:00 a.m. EDT, we will be gathering at the FSF office to watch both remote and in-person talks on Emacs and Emacs Lisp. A light breakfast and dinner will be provided by the FSF, and three lucky attendees will come away with some official Emacs merchandise from the GNU Press.

A tentative schedule of the conference is as follows:

  • 9:00 a.m. EDT: Conference begins with keynotes from Amin Bandali, Sacha Chua, and Emacs maintainer John Wiegley.
  • 9:30 a.m. EDT: "User-related" conference track begins, with talks from Sachin Patil, Parham Doustdar, and Marcin Swieczkowski in addition to the lightning talks.
  • 12:00 p.m. EDT: "Development" conference track begins, with talks from Jonathan Chu, Howard Abrams, Damien Cassou, and Matt Ray.
  • 4:00 p.m. EDT: "Future" conference track begins, with talks from Greg Farough and Perry Metzger.
  • 4:50 p.m. EDT: Closing remarks, with dinner provided by the FSF.

A small raffle will be conducted after the conclusion of each conference track, and Emacs stickers will be free for all attendees!

Although attendance is gratis, space is very limited, so please be sure to send an RSVP to campaigns@fsf.org as soon as possible to secure your spot.

The FSFE re-elects president, vice president, and financial officer

The FSFE re-elects president, vice president, and financial officer

At this year's General Assembly, which took place in Essen, Germany, on 12 October, the members of the FSFE re-elected Matthias Kirschner as the president, Heiki Lõhmus as the vice president, and Patrick Ohnewein as the financial officer for another two-year term.

Matthias Kirschner has been serving as the president of FSFE since 2015 and working fulltime for the FSFE since 2009. In 1999 he started using Free Software and realised that software is deeply involved in all aspects of our lives. Kirschner is convinced that this technology has to empower society not restrict it. He joined the FSFE in 2004 while studying Political and Administrative Science. Kirschner is passionate to help governments, companies, other organisations, and individuals to understand how they can benefit from Free Software -- which gives everybody the rights to use, understand, adapt and share software -- and how those rights help to support freedom of speech, freedom of press or privacy.

Heiki Lõhmus has been serving as the FSFE's vice president since October 2016. Lõhmus first started volunteering for the FSFE in 2011 as a translator and soon after assumed the responsibility for translation coordination. In 2013 he became a member of the FSFE. As a member, his main priority has been to make FSFE more appreciative of its volunteers and their contributions. Over time his focus has broadened to include other strategic questions about the FSFE's community. Though his main focus in FSFE has been and continues to be on people, he holds a Master's degree in aeronautical engineering and is currently pursuing a PhD on remote sensing of the Greenland Ice Sheet. He always welcomes an opportunity to hear from our supporters, volunteers, or potential volunteers, so drop him a line.

Patrick Ohnewein joined the FSFE as a member in 2009 and became its financial officer in 2017. He has been dedicated to building up a Free Software community in South Tyrol since the nineties. He co-founded the Linux User Group Bozen-Bolzano-Bulsan and has served as its board member. He has also been organising the annual South Tyrol Free Software Conference. Ohnewein coordinates mailing lists about software projects and is involved as an IT-expert in various work-groups and committees for Free Software and for the IT-community. In his day job at NOI Techpark in the Italian region South Tyrol he is responsible for coordinating European development and research projects in the fields of tourism, mobility, energy, and food -- promoting an innovation strategy built on top of Open Data, Open Standards and Free Software.

FSFE's general assembly meeting, 2019

The General Assembly consists of the members of the FSFE e.V., the FSFE's legal body. It is responsible for strategic planning, budgeting, agenda-setting, and the election, exoneration, and recall of the Executive Council and the Financial Officer.

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Software Freedom Podcast #1 on Day Against DRM with Cory Doctorow

Software Freedom Podcast #1 on Day Against DRM with Cory Doctorow

We have a Podcast! Starting with this episode, we will talk once a month with people who have inspiring ideas about software freedom. In our first episode of our Software Freedom Podcast, we address the issue of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) together with Cory Doctorow, a British-Canadian writer, political activist, and co-editor of the blog boingboing.net. Cory Doctorow is a prominent supporter of software freedom and a less restrictive copyright law. His books are published under Creative Commons licenses.

When we planned the first episode, we exchanged some ideas for possible guests. When we heard that the Day Against DRM will take place in October we thought: we have to get Cory Doctorow as our first guest on Digital Restrictions Management. In this episode of the Software Freedom Podcast, we talk about the difference between books and an e-books with DRM, how authors and artist can make money without DRM, security implications of DRM, regulation of the so called "Internet of Things", and other questions related to this issue.

Read more:

Day against DRM 2019 More information about DRM Informative leaflet explaining DRM "Revisiting the Sony Rootkit" Boing Boing

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Today is the Day Against DRM

Today is the Day Against DRM

Join us and the Free Software Foundation in the fight against DRM! Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) is any technology that is built into an electronic product or service with the aim of limiting its use. It is designed to prevent customers from using digital technology in ways that do not correspond to the business agenda of a content provider or device manufacturer.

CC BY-SA 3.0 - Brendan Mruk and Matt Lee

Digital Restrictions Managements often restricts individuals from doing things that are perfectly legal, so we might not be able to put together a mix of music files we bought legally, or to lend an e-book to a friend. Even backups can be restricted. Restrictions management technology removes basic rights and freedoms in the digital world. All DRM systems have one thing in common: They give businesses control over things that we, the owners, should be in control of. For example, businesses decide how often we can play the movies we paid for and what kind of files we can read on our e-book reader.

Free Software is software that puts the user in control of their own devices. In contrast, DRM Digital Restrictions Management is technology to put the user under control of a third party: these two goals are fundamentally incompatible.

If you want to get active on this topic, you can support the Day Against DRM which takes place every year. This campaign is organised by the Free Software Foundation, our sister organisation based in the US. On the campaign website you also can find a list of DRM-free-platforms for books, videos and audio files. To raise more awareness about the topic yourself, you can order our leaflet about DRM or recommend the first episode of our Software Freedom Podcast with Cory Doctorow on this topic.

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Coming to Your Town? We'd Love to See You!

Conservancy staff are on the road this month. Check and see if we're coming to your town!

IDAD 2019: Join us on October 12th, and use this special dust jacket to uphold the right to read

Photo of IDAD 2019 dust jacket cover.

Each year we stage the International Day Against DRM (IDAD) to help others learn about the dangers of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). For this year's IDAD on October 12th, we are focusing in particular on the increasing and disturbing amount of DRM present in ebooks and other online educational materials. Having so thoroughly invaded our leisure time, the digital infection known as DRM should not be allowed to spread into the classroom. Joining us in the fight for IDAD 2019 are the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, and The Document Foundation, among ten other participating organizations we are privileged to have standing with us in the fight against DRM.

In a bid to become the "Netflix of textbooks," and like many other publishers, Pearson is doing the opposite of what anyone committed to education should do: severely restricting a student's access to the materials they need for their courses through arbitrary page limits, "rented" books that disappear, and many which require a constant Internet connection.

Publishers like Pearson should not be allowed to decide the rigidly specific conditions under which a student can learn. No book should spy on your reading habits or simply "disappear" after you have had it for too long. In the digital age, it is unacceptable for a publisher to impose the same principles of scarcity that would apply to a physical product to a digital file. The computing revolution was caused by files being shared, not merely rented. Imposing these limitations on digital media is an attack on user freedom, no matter how much corporate PR may spin the story. It's our aim to let the world know that we support the rights of readers. You could say that for IDAD 2019, Defective by Design has you covered.

We have developed a dust jacket you can slip over any "dead tree" book that you are reading to warn others about the looming threat of DRM. Whether in school, in a coffee shop, or on the subway, it is an easy conversation starter about the insidious nature of DRM. We encourage all readers to use them, whether on the latest hardcover bestseller or the textbook you use in class (while you still have one).

Defective by Design will be printing high quality versions of the dust jacket for every book shipped from our friends at the GNU Press while supplies permit. And true to our mission, we are also releasing the source files to these designs so that others may do the same. They are fully editable and shareable in Scribus v1.5+, so feel free to print, share, translate, and give away your own printed copies to readers and anti-DRM activists in your area.

Using ebooks for educational purposes is far from a bad thing: in fact, we will be bringing together the global Defective by Design community to help improve the fully shareable and editable works like those published by our friends at FLOSS Manuals. We're excited to be promoting an opposition to "locked-down" learning by staging a global hackathon on free culture works in the #dbd channel on Freenode, or our own in-person meeting to help edit these ethical alternatives at our offices in Boston.

Activists all over the world come together on the International Day Against DRM to resist Digital Restrictions Management's massive and aggressive encroachment on our real digital rights.

This year, we're confident that we can show major book publishers like Pearson that putting a lock on learning is unacceptable. Join us on October 12th and beyond in our double-fronted attack to tell others about the evils of DRM, and to eliminate unethical digital publishing by contributing to free and ethical alternatives.

Spread the message

  • Print and share these covers as widely as you can, leaving them as freebies in libraries, coffee shops, and wherever books are appreciated. Snap a photo of your campaigning in action, and share it to social media with the tags #idad, #dbd, or #DefectivebyDesign.

  • To help us coordinate year-round actions against DRM, join the DRM Elimination Crew mailing list.

  • If you would like to translate the dust jacket into your language, please email campaigns@fsf.org and we will be happy to include it on the official Defective by Design site. We're currently offering them in English, Spanish, and German.

IDAD actions

FSF and GNU

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the GNU Project were both started by Richard M. Stallman (RMS), and he served until recently as the head of both. Because of that, the relationship between the FSF and GNU has been fluid.

As part of our commitment to supporting the development and distribution of fully free operating systems, the FSF provides GNU with services like fiscal sponsorship, technical infrastructure, promotion, copyright assignment, and volunteer management.

GNU decision-making has largely been in the hands of GNU leadership. Since RMS resigned as president of the FSF, but not as head of GNU ("Chief GNUisance"), the FSF is now working with GNU leadership on a shared understanding of the relationship for the future. As part of that, we invite comments from free software community members at fsf-and-gnu@fsf.org.

Update 2019-10-10: Messages sent to fsf-and-gnu@fsf.org and gnu-and-fsf@gnu.org will be privately shared between the FSF and GNU leadership as part of this process.

Update 2019-10-07: GNU leadership has also published a statement. The contact address for sending comments to GNU is gnu-and-fsf@gnu.org.

Freedomvote sheds light on Swiss candidates for national elections

Freedomvote sheds light on Swiss candidates for national elections

Freedomvote.ch is back. The Swiss Freedomvote campaign aims to give voters guidance about the candidates who are running for election. As in its previous edition from 2015, it offers candidates the opportunity to present their positioning on different digital topics, including Free Software. More than 160 candidates are already participating and prove that digital topics are becoming more and more important - for voters just as for candidates.

In the information age, citizens want to know how candidates position themselves on the key issues of Free Software and other digital rights. Software is deeply involved in all aspects of our lives; and it is important that this technology empowers rather than restricts us. Free Software gives everybody the rights to use, understand, adapt and share software. These rights help support other fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech, press and privacy.

Freedomvote.ch helps voters to find out which position is taken by the candidates in this regard, what values do they represent in a connected world? Do they have an awareness of digital sovereignty?

In 2019, freedomvote.ch is available again to the Swiss candidates and voters as an orientation for the upcoming national elections. Already more than 160 candidates created their profile on Freedomvote.ch and show their position on Free Software.

The National Council elections are due to take place on 20 October. The diversity and number of candidates means that the 2019 election decision will not be easy - especially with regard to questions concerning rights and freedoms in the digital world.

Freedomvote.ch helps providing answers and guidance. The profiles can not only be compared with each other, the questionnaire can also be filled out by voters and thus directly compared with their own values and priorities. These results can also be shared with the electorate on social media using the hashtag #freedomvote.

Freedomvote.ch is maintained by the local group Zurich of the Free Software Foundation Europe together with other organisations. It was run last time in 2015 in Switzerland. The software for the platform is Free Software.

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When companies use the GPL against each other, our community loses

Two router manufacturers, Cambium and Ubiquiti, are using the GPL as a pawn in their ongoing commercial dispute that has resulted in a lawsuit. Our analysis shows that neither complies with the GPL's most basic provisions to begin with, making the suit a distraction from the GPL's main goal: ensuring users' freedom to modify the software in their devices.

Open Letter “Free and Open Source EU Policy Recommendations”

Open Letter “Free and Open Source EU Policy Recommendations”

At the end of September together with Open Forum Europe we organised a meeting in Brussels to bring together Free Software experts from around Europe. Goal of the meeting was to discuss Free Software and its driving role in the digital transformation in Europe, and in particular how the European institutions can further facilitate these developments.

Open Letter “Free and Open Source EU Policy Recommendations”

After the European Election, many Members of the European Parliament left the Parliament and new ones got in their place. Also the European Commission will be transformed, new Commissioners will be elected and restructuring processes will take place in the upcoming weeks. As we have seen in the latest debates, i.e. the discussion around the copyright reform, it is crucial to create awareness among policy makers to make the right choices in the light of new, upcoming legislation which will touch Free Software. On the other hand, there is the growing interest in the adoption and use of Free Software within the European Institutions, still there is a lack of commitment.

Therefore, the attendees of the meeting agreed on an open letter which will be sent to representatives and decision makers in the EU. The letter contains recommendations in the field of research, EU institutional capacity and demands on previous commitments regarding Free Software supportive policy-decisions.

To have big impact on the European institutions, we need alliances. Please send us an e-mail to contact@fsfe.org if your organisation wants to sign and support the open letter as well.

FREE AND OPEN SOURCE EU POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

Brussels, 26 September 2019

On this day, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) experts from around Europe met in Brussels to discuss FOSS and its driving role in the digital transformation in Europe and how the EU can further facilitate these developments. The undersigned organisations have agreed to the following Open Letter.

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) refers to all programs distributed under specific terms and licenses that allow users to use the software for any purpose, to study how the program works, to improve the program to their needs and to share it with others, enabling innovation through collaboration.

Free and Open Source Software is mainstream technology with enterprise FOSS underpinning critical infrastructure in a wide range of sectors such as government, finance, security, telecommunications, healthcare, manufacturing and transport in Europe. It is today the R&D community of the digital transformation, with some of the biggest internet and mobile platforms to the Cloud built upon and actively contributing and co-developing it. In fact, European companies of all sizes rely heavily on FOSS to increase their pace of innovation in order to compete globally. FOSS development provides much of the fuel behind European technology priorities like eGovernment, Artificial Intelligence, HPC, Blockchain, 5G, eHealth, Industry 4.0, Connected Cars and the Internet of Things.

In order to establish trustworthy systems, and achieve technological sovereignty, European public bodies should ensure they have full control over the software and the computer systems at the core of our governmental digital infrastructures.

In that same vein, the EU has taken significant steps in the area of FOSS to digitally transform, but also “walk the policy talk”. By way of example, the European Commission's recent Digital Strategy and emphasis on co-creation as well as long standing policies/frameworks such as ISA² Program, the Open Source Observatory, the EU Open Source Strategy, and the objectives laid out in the Tallinn Declaration. Other initiatives include hackathons to help engage with the community as well as specific projects such as FOSSA 2 in cooperation with the European Parliament. Much more can be done, however, to unlock the potential of Free and Open Source Software in the EU.

That Member States and third countries signed the Tallinn Declaration in 2017 presents further evidence of the realisation of Free and Open Source Software being critical to starting/accelerating/improving a successful digital transformation. Some countries like France, Italy or Bulgaria have introduced FOSS legislation. Cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Barcelona are using more and more FOSS-enabling cross-border collaboration within the EU and worldwide. Major projects can share expertise and costs, similar applications don't have to be programmed from scratch every time and with transparent processes, and others don't have to reinvent the wheel. This is also strengthening the European ideals of working together.

A majority of officials are not yet fully aware of FOSS’s importance within broader digital strategies. Most current digital strategies of public administrations could be updated yet more to reflect how Free and Open Source Software fits within the European technological independence and European growth in digital government, eHealth, Cloud computing, its relevance to SME-led innovation and a European IT market, Open Science, Industry 4.0, within Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence.

The signatories therefore address the EU institutions with the following recommendations for the next five years:

Research

Issue: There exists already a wealth of research on Free and Open Source Software, much of which have been funded by EU research grants and by the Commission. However, gaps exist in four specific areas, for which the European Commission is best-placed to produce much-needed research.

Rec 1: In the evaluations and midterm reports of Horizon Europe and Digital Europe programmes, particular focus should be given to FOSS and its role and relevance in the EU research funding instruments.

Rec 2: We welcome the European Commission call for tenders for a FOSS market study. It should however be updated with a similar cadence to other Digitisation measurement projects (e.g. DESI), in order to track the development as the rate of growth of FOSS is significant.

Rec 3: The European Commission should continue to research how to co-develop and support communities around FOSS solutions such as in the area of eGovernment.

Rec 4: The European institutions should, when funding research, make sure that the principles of open access science should also cover software developed as part of that research. As such it should be released under a FOSS license. This fosters collaboration between research teams and ensures reproducibility.

EU Institutional Capacity

Issue: It is necessary to take a holistic approach to digital policy. There were unintended consequences on FOSS businesses stemming from legislation under the Digital Single Market. A broader view requires all relevant Commission services to be aware and act towards enabling European FOSS to succeed.

Rec 5: The European Commission should bolster existing resources focusing on explore the creation of a unit with a clear mandate to work withFOSS and/or institute a cross-DG, cross-cabinet collaboration focused on FOSS’sincreasing importance in the digital transformation.

Rec 6: The European institutions should rely on the well-documented wealth of knowledge available in FOSS communities when making policy decisions to minimize unintended consequences.

Rec 7: The European institutions should reach out to the FOSS community when preparing policy decisions, to extend its interaction from the technical to the policy level, to minimise the risk of unintended consequences.

Follow through on FOSS commitments

Issue: The European institutions and the Member States have made great commitments to openness. These commitments need to be fulfilled to reap their benefits.

Rec 8: The European Commission should follow up the Member States’ commitments in the Tallinn Declaration and proactively take its role in supporting and monitoring the implementation of the Declaration in Member States.

Rec 9: The European institutions and Member States should begin considerations for a follow-up, more ambitious Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment, including further concrete goals and commitments for FOSS.

Rec 10: When developing software, the European Commission needs to follow its commitment to developing software under a FOSS license and Develop In the Open (DITO), and encourage all EU institutions moving towards a FOSS by default approach.

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