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Belgian court’s decision impacts the future of Router Freedom

08. Juli 2024 um 23:00

Belgian court’s decision impacts the future of Router Freedom

In an historic ruling within the EU, a Belgian court has upheld the decision of the country’s regulator to introduce Router Freedom for fiber networks. The objections, raised by a local internet service provider, were deemed unfounded. This landmark decision represents a significant victory for consumer rights, and we urge other national regulators to follow this example.

Internet services providers (ISPs) have been pushing back in different ways to limit the ability of end-users to choose and use their own routers for internet connection. After a thorough regulatory process which officially confirmed Router Freedom in Belgium, the local ISP Orange contested the decision of the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) alleging lack of proportionality. Although past court cases in other countries have been decided in favour of end-users, the Orange vs the BIPT case represents an important victory for Router Freedom: this is the first time a court refers to fiber networks from the perspective of the regulatory framework established by the 2020 reform of the telecommunications law in Europe.

Orange’s allegations rebutted by the court

In September 2023, the BIPT, following the BEREC guidelines, defined the position of the “network termination point“. This means that routers, modems and optical network terminals (ONT) would not be part of the ISPs’ infrastructure, opening up the possibility for freedom of choice in the equipment market. The regulatory decision encompassed fiber networks, following by a comprehensive technical, economical and legal analysis conducted by the regulator.

Orange questioned the Belgian regulator decision’s regarding the position of the NTP, which introduced Router Freedom in the country. Source: BEREC

Soon after the publication of the decision, Orange started litigation at the Market Court in Brussels against the regulator, listing a long list of arguments against the decision:

  • The BIPT was not diligent in the decision-making process;
  • The BIPT insufficiently researched the market and technical situation in Belgium to decide to place the NTP at Point A;
  • The decision should be reversed because it violates proportionality. The market situation in Belgium is different from other countries that decided in favour of Router Freedom. Instead, Point B should have been chosen;
  • Orange was under the assumption that the BIPT would choose Point B, therefore violated its trust;
  • The decision was not technology-neutral because it excluded other terminal equipment (like TV decoders) from its scope.

The court dismissed all Orange’s arguments as unfounded, confirming the BIPT’s decision to introduce Router Freedom in Belgium by defining the position of the NTP at Point A. The court ruled that:

  • Although the court has the authority to check the legitimacy of the regulator’s decision, it should not regulate in its place. In any case, the BIPT has not violated the principles of proper governance and was diligent in following the regulatory framework proposed by BEREC, in particular the Guidelines for the Identification of the NTP;
  • The BIPT was not unreasonable to set the NTP at Point A, as Orange stated multiple times. Instead, the regulator acted diligently and took into account the different technologies (cable, copper, fibre). The BIPT determined that there are no objective technological reasons to limit freedom of terminal equipment. The purpose of setting the NTP at point A is to create a framework that stimulates competition;
  • Deciding in favour of Point A was proportionate. The regulator diligently analysed competition in the equipment market; the costs for operators and the service provision, sustainability and energy consumption aspects. Orange did not provide concrete data to demonstrate that the BIPT insufficiently researched technological necessities to limit freedom of terminal equipment. The situation in each country is indeed different. That’s why regulators are required by BEREC to assess whether there are objective criteria to limit this freedom: the BIPT’s comprehensive assessment demonstrated that there are none;
  • The BIPT has not violated the trust of the operators. It is not sufficient for Orange to claim that their own concrete interest is better served with a different outcome than the one proposed by the BIPT (limiting Router Freedom at Point A). The BIPT did not arbitrarily determine the position of the NTP;
  • Media boxes and TV decoders are not the same as routers and modems, so they should be treated differently.

The FSFE emphasises the importance of this ruling as the court has not only clarified the procedural aspects, but confirmed the Belgian regulator's diligence in analysing all the market, technical and sustainability aspects concerning Router Freedom. It should be highlighted that the court reaffirmed the BIPT’s conclusion that no technological necessity to limit Router Freedom in fiber networks was found. This resonates with FSFE’s demands that ISPs’ commercial interests should not prevail over consumer rights. This ruling should serve as an precedent for other EU member states who have argued the existence of such technological constraints in fiber networks.

The future of Router Freedom is under attack, help us safeguarding it

For many years ISPs have been pushing back in different manners to limit the ability of end-users to choose and use their own routers for internet connection. Their lobbying power has been intense against Router Freedom in fiber networks. Countries like Austria and Latvia have prioritized operators’ interests by not safeguarding end-users’ freedom of routers, while others like Greece and Croatia have promoted a compromise by allowing Router Freedom in DSL and coax but excluding fiber. Particularly concerning are countries, like Germany, which have positively decided in the past in favour of Router Freedom but are facing pressure from ISPs to exclude fiber networks.

The FSFE is the only civil-society organisation that systematically monitors and advocates in favour of Router Freedom across Europe. We have intervened in key regulatory processes, and articulated alliances and coalitions with local digital rights groups, industry representatives and consumer protection organisations. We have participated in dozens of conferences and events in Europe, and have been quoted by the media, think tanks and academics.

Most importantly, we are aiming at the future. Our advocacy does not expire in the short term. We are committed to Device Neutrality as we believe everyone should be able to bypass gatekeepers – these small or large corporations blocking their rights – to run Free Software on their devices. For example, while Apple is hampering software freedom on smartphones, ISPs prohibit subscribers to have their own routers running Free Software operating systems.

An open, healthy and neutral Internet needs Router Freedom, as this freedom refers to the hardware layer of Net Neutrality. Indeed, Router Freedom was considered a top priority by a study on the future of the Net Neutrality Regulation commissioned by the EC last year. The study cited the FSFE in several parts.

New challenges are appearing in the horizon. Next year the EU will assess its telecom legislation that tasked BEREC to develop the guidelines on the NTP. In parallel, as the importance of satellite networks grows, it is not clear how regulators will react to lack of freedom of choice among proprietary devices.

Router Freedom is key for an open and neutral Internet. We have achieved so much in the last five years balancing the power of ISPs to promote software freedom in routers and modems! Your support is vital for our advocacy and policy engagement in favour of your right to choose and use your own router. Please become an FSFE supporter today and help us keep our independence! Donate now

A big shout out for the FSFE Benelux Team for the amazing work in translating the lengthy and complex court decision!

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SFP#25: MirageOS und OCaml mit Hannes Mehnert und Matthias Kirschner

03. Juli 2024 um 23:00

SFP#25: MirageOS und OCaml mit Hannes Mehnert und Matthias Kirschner

Für unsere 25te Episode des Software Freedom Podcast freuen wir uns Hannes Mehnert, einer der MirageOS Hauptentwickler, begrüßen zu dürfen. Zusammen mit Matthias Kirschner, President der FSFE, spricht Hannes über MirageOS, OCaml und Modulare Systeme. Diese Folge gibt einen Überblick von den Grundlagen bis zur Zukunft von MirageOS.

Als einer der Hauptentwickler vonMirageOS hat Hannes Mehrnert ein umfangreiches Verständnis der Funktionsweise des Programmierrahmens und seiner Module. Er und Matthias sprechen über die Verwendung von MirageOS, seine Finanzierung und wie du MirageOS als Freiwillige*r unterstützen kannst. Außerdem sprechen beide über die funktionale Programmiersprache OCaml, die Grundlage auf der alles aufgebaut ist. Höre dir eine spannende Folge mit Hannes und Matthias an, während du mehr über MirageOS, modulare Systeme, reproduzierbare Builds und funktionale Programmierung lernst.

Die perfekte Episode für alle, die gerne mehr über MirageOS und modulare Systeme lernen wollen!

Show notes

Wenn dir diese Folge gefallen hat und du unsere kontinuierliche Arbeit für Softwarefreiheit unterstützen möchtest, hilf uns bitte mit einer Spende.

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DMA & Apple +++ Openwashing, EU infrastucture & more

01. Juli 2024 um 23:00

DMA & Apple +++ Openwashing, EU infrastucture & more

The July issue is full of news! We continue to monitor and raise our concerns about DMA compliance. We call upon the EU to use Free Software for its digital infrastructure and are asking for your experiences with openwashing. And we also bring you updates on REUSE, YH4F, Ada & Zangemann...

Table of contents

Quote of the Month

“I have received the package, the T-shirts are great. Thank you for including the stickers in the pack, your work is amazing".

A Free Software supporter who bought merchandise in our Summer Sale

Defending DMA against Apple: The FSFE signs joint position paper

Together with seven stakeholders organisations, the FSFE has submitted a joint position paper to the European Commission, with whom we are working on the implementation of the Digital Markets Act. This paper, supported by legal and data-backed arguments, addresses Apple’s non-compliance with the law, particularly concerning software freedom, alternative Free Software app stores and interoperability obligations.

Europe needs Free Software to master its digital infrastructure

The FSFE calls upon the European Commission to use Free Software to ensure a secure and resilient digital infrastructure. Also the economy, civil society and democracy will benefit from software freedom.

Save time and minimise licensing headaches with REUSE

REUSE helps make a project's licensing and copyright status more transparent, ensure that third-party code is properly attributed and make the project's code easily reusable. This tool is currently used worldwide and its specification has been adopted by several corporate and institutional projects. We spoke to Matija Šuklje of Liferay International, one of the companies that has adopted REUSE.

Share your views on openwashing with us!

We are working on the topic of openwashing to learn more about current market practices, and we need your help! Openwashing has become a growing issue for the Free Software community. Many companies claim to be working on "Open Source" or "Free Software", while at the same time distributing proprietary software products. We have already received many valuable responses, but more input is welcome! You can still share your views and experiences on openwashing.

Please spread the word!

YH4F: end of the programming period

The 2024 edition of Youth Hacking 4 Freedom has reached its peak with the end of the programming period. After six months of working on their projects, the young participants of this third edition submitted their projects at the end of June. Now it is the turn of the YH4F jury to evaluate the submissions and choose the six projects that will be awarded prizes in Brussels in October. Keep up to date with our news! Meanwhile, take a closer look at one of our winning projects from last year, ArduPlot.

Interested in participating in the next edition? You can already register!

“Érase una vez…“, Ada in Spanish!

Thanks to the Volkswagen Group in Spain, the story of Ada & Zangemann is now being printed in Spanish! The company will be distributing 500 copies to its employees and, from September, its STEM team will be embarking on a 'STEM tour', visiting schools in several Spanish cities around the country to distribute the book. We can't wait to hear more about these readings and the children's feedback! And maybe this translation of the book will find a publisher soon, so that it can make its way into bookshops!

Besides, Ada ready-to-go slides are currently available in Spanish and Portuguese! These resources are really helpful when doing a reading.

“They are young and they need the code”, Italian pilot project

With its kick-off online meeting last month, the FSFE has started a pilot project in Italy to educate primary school kids about Free Software. This project is creating a set of tools for Italian volunteers to organize a pedagogic event with a reading of the book “Ada & Zangemann”.

If you are in Italy and you want to participate, please get in touch with the FSFE ItalyTelegram channel. Check out the recording of the kick-off session and download all the documentation and tools to kick off the project in your area!

Donate now

Individual regular supporters power our work day-to-day. We need your help to continue our work!

Our mission is in jeopardy due to lack of funding. Inflation has also hit us hard, so in order to continue to fight successfully for you and your freedom, we need individual, regular contributions.

To continue to be a thorn in the side of deep-pocketed tech giants and a watchdog for governments, it is important that individual regular donations are a cornerstone of our income so we keep our independence.

If you value our work and have the means to do so, please do not hesitate to make a donation; any amount you can contribute would really help us to continue to work consistently and tirelessly for Software Freedom.

I ♥ Free Software Day & SUSE OSCC network

We got an email, a few weeks ago, that caught our attention. It came with a donation explaining that it was made in the name of an employee network at SUSE. We decided to investigate and asked the people responsible, and we want to share this awesome story with you. (Note - this is also a great idea for an initiative to ask your company about).

End of the Summer Sale

Our summer sale is over and now is the time for us to restock! Remember that you can still order our merchandise online and also get it at our booth at several events! Also, if you are wearing our t-shirt and socks this summer, do not forget to post about it in your social media channels and tag us! We love to see our products all around the world, and it is a great way to spread the message about Free Software and Software Freedom!

Trento Open Festival,Tübix, Offenburg’s reading and Dev.Conf.CZ

The FSFE participated in the Trento Open Festival conference (Italy) giving some talks, participating in panel discussions and with reading of the book ‘Ada & Zangemann: a Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream'. Besides, the outcome of the ZOOOM project was validated with different stakeholders.

Also, the FSFE went to Tübingen (Germany) to participate in this yearly event around GNU/Linux and Free Software. We had a reading of the book ‘Ada & Zangemann: a Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream’ and a talk about banks and Free Software. And of course, a booth.

Last month, we also had an Ada & Zangemann reading, in Offenburg (Germany). The reading was opened by Offenburg's mayor and attended by more than 200 third graders in Offenburg's largest cinema. The 200 pupils had the chance to discuss the book with the author after the reading.

The illustrated book was also present at DevConf.CZ, where the FSFE shared experiences from readings, and discussed how to engage with younger audiences about Free Software https://www.offenburg.de/de/detail/nachricht-seite/id/19191-digitaltag-kommt-an/?default=true (DE)

Contribute to our Newsletter

We would love to hear from you. If you have any thoughts, pictures, or news to share, please send them to us at newsletter@fsfe.org. You can also support us, contribute to our work, and join our community. We would like to thank our community and all the volunteers, supporters, and donors who make our work possible, with a special mention to our translators who make it possible for you to read this newsletter in your mother tongue.

Your editor, Ana

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Europe needs Free Software to master its digital infrastructure

30. Juni 2024 um 23:00

Europe needs Free Software to master its digital infrastructure

The FSFE calls upon the European Commission to use Free Software to ensure a secure and resilient digital infrastructure. Software freedom will also benefit the economy, civil society and democracy.

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) provided last evening its input to the European Commission's consultation on the white paper "How to master Europe’s digital infrastructure needs?". As an advocate for software freedom, the FSFE underscores the crucial role of Free Software in building secure and resilient digital infrastructure for Europe while strengthening economy, democracy and civil society alike.

Challenges around digital infrastructure occur at global, regional and local levels, often revolving around control and access. Collaboration and openness are playing just as important role as the capability and skills to swiftly and effectively fix issues. Challenges addressed by the White paper could be addressed by redirecting IT investments in software freedom instead of procuring closed source, proprietary software. This approach not only boosts the European IT landscape and creates jobs but also saves costs and resources in the medium and long term by avoiding the need to repeatedly reinvent the the wheel.

“The European digital infrastructure, the European tech market, the IT skills of Europeans and civil society would greatly benefit if investments in software adhered to the principle of “Public money? Public Code!” We need software that fosters the sharing of good ideas and solutions. Like this we will be able to manage and improve IT services and digital infrastructure all over Europe. We need software that guarantees freedom of choice, access, and competition. We need software that helps public administrations regain full control of their critical digital infrastructure, allowing them to become and remain independent from a handful of companies. Therefore, laws and programs are needed, that publicly financed software developed for public sector must be made publicly available under a Free Software licence. Investment in the Free Software ecosystem will pay off quickly while strengthening Europe infrastructure, economy, democracy and civil society alike.” , demands Alexander Sander, FSFE’s Senior Policy Consultant.

The "Public Money? Public Code!" initiative aims to establish Free Software as the standard for publicly funded software. The "Public Money? Public Code!" initiative of the Free Software Foundation Europe is supported by over 200 organizations and administrations.

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Interview with last year's YH4F winner, Davide Rorato

27. Juni 2024 um 23:00

Interview with last year's YH4F winner, Davide Rorato

After six months of programming there are only a few days left until the end of Youth Hacking 4 Freedom 2024. We are very excited to see this year's projects and to learn more about the participants and their work during the past months. Before we dive into the new projects, let us take a deeper look at last year's winner, Davide Rorato.

Davide presenting his winning project, 'ArduPlot', at the Award ceremony in Brussels, October 2023

Davide programmed the tool "ArduPlot", a real-time serial plotter that automatically adjusts itself to your use case. ArduPlot provides a nice graphical overview of the sensor data from any Arduino board. But let us hear all about ArduPlot from its developer.

FSFE: Hi Davide, thank you very much for your time. Before we learn more about "ArduPlot" we want to learn more about you and your skills. What was your first experience with programming, and how did you start learning to write code?

Davide: My first ever experience with programming was creating Automator scripts. Automator is an application that lets you create a sequence of actions such as keyboard presses and mouse movements that can be recorded and then played back without the need to write any code (it’s actually a lot more powerful but I used it in a very basic way).

The next thing I started to experiment with was coding on an Arduino UNO that I borrowed from my older brother. When it wasn't in use I would write simple programs by copying them from a book of ready-made projects and adapting them to suit my needs. This gradually evolved into me wanting to know more about programming and electronics, and a couple of years later, during summer vacation, I thought it would be fun to actually learn how to code, so I opened up YouTube and followed the first C++ tutorial I could find.

After getting accustomed to the basics, when I got an idea for a project, I would start coding until I found a problem I didn't know how to tackle. I then googled and tried every way possible to make the program work until it did.

FSFE: Can you remember when you first used Free Software?

Davide: I think my first contact with Free Software was with the OpenOffice suite, followed by the Arduino IDE. Of course at first I didn't realise what Free Software meant, and I was simply glad I could use the software for free, but as years passed I came to really appreciate the ethical principles of Free Software.

FSFE: How did you find out about this contest?

Davide: It was thanks to my IT teacher, who told my class about this contest when the first edition of YH4F started. I actually participated in the first edition of YH4F as well, but I didn’t manage to win, and seeing the quality of the projects that did it was clear why, they were amazing!

FSFE: Why did you decide to join YH4F?

Davide: The first year I decided to join because I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to do a bigger project, and in turn learn a lot of new things that I didn't have an opportunity to before. Had I not participated in the first edition, I wouldn’t have been able to create ArduPlot the following year.

For the second edition of the contest, I actually didn't have any plans to submit a project, but incidentally I had been working on ArduPlot to help with the debugging of a robot for a school project, so the day of the submission deadline I thought: “Well, I got nothing to lose so I might as well submit this!”. I can safely say I did not regret that decision!

ArduPlot graphical output of the input from an Arduino board

FSFE: And before we talk a bit more about ArduPlot, what did you enjoy the most about this contest?

Davide: The thing I enjoyed the most was the open-ended nature of the contest. Any type of Free Software can be created and submitted, with no restriction to a specific type or theme, letting everyone work on something they are passionate about at the moment.

FSFE:This is nice to hear, however we also know that this can be quite a challenge for some to find "their perfect project". Here as you said it is very important to find something you are passionate about, or a problem you want to fix. And of course, the YH4F team is there to help you to come up with an idea. Now for some more detailed questions about ArduPlot. Can you explain how ArduPlot works and how you came up with the idea?

Davide: I created ArduPlot from a need to analyse different types of data coming from a microcontroller for an autonomous robotics project one of my classmates and I were developing. The robot had all kinds of sensors on it, and we needed to split fast paced data from the sensors, that required a specific visualisation (line graph, heatmap), from the less frequent text logs. If these two things are mixed together in a single text console, it’s much harder to see what’s happening at a glance.

What ArduPlot does is split this data in two: when it recognises a data packet, it gets analysed and displayed as a visualisation. For any other case the data gets redirected to a text console.

FSFE: What was the biggest challenge or problem you faced when developing your idea?

Davide: The main challenge I faced was reading data from the microcontroller reliably, which meant reading, parsing and displaying it faster than the data coming in, which isn’t a problem with low data rates, but as they get higher issues start to appear if everything isn’t properly implemented.

FSFE:It sounds like you were already somehow familiar with microcontrollers before you started ArduPlot. Have you worked with the data from microcontrollers before?

Davide: Yes, but in past projects I didn’t need this type of detailed visual feedback. The Serial Plotter in the Arduino IDE sufficed most of the time, because I had a couple of sensors at most attached to the microcontroller.

FSFE: Are there any problems that ArduPlot has solved for you when working with this kind of data?

Davide: ArduPlot made it possible to see through the 'eyes' of the robot in real time and discover and fix bugs faster. For example, if a sensor got slightly moved and suddenly the robot started to work badly, we instantly knew what went wrong at a glance by looking at the data.

FSFE: What motivated you to keep working on ArduPlot during the programming period?

Davide: The main motivation was the fact that I actually needed the program I was developing, and without ArduPlot, debugging the code of the robot would have been much more time-consuming.

FSFE: Have you continued to work on your project in recent months?

Davide: Yes, but not as much as I wanted to. I have lots of ideas for features I want to implement (and bugs that need to be fixed) but during the past months I have been busy with other projects, and most importantly university, which I have prioritised.

Nevertheless, since the contest ended I’ve added Windows support, I fixed a couple of critical bugs, optimised heatmap rendering, added friendly USB device names alongside the serial device’s location on Linux and added serial output, which was the last thing keeping ArduPlot from reaching feature parity with the Arduino integrated serial terminal/plotter, but with the addition of other quality of life improvements, such as auto reconnect and, of course, the ability to plot graphs on demand!

FSFE: And last but not least, is there anything you would tell new participants to do or not to do?

Davide: Build something you are passionate about and that other people would find useful or cool, but most importantly have fun doing it!

FSFE:Thank you Davide for your time, it was a pleasure to meet you in the Youth Hacking 4 Freedom contest.

The 2024 edition of Youth Hacking 4 Freedom is still going on now! The coding period ends on 30 June. The next edition will start on 01.01.2025. You can already register now. Check out the YH4F website to find out all the details of this competition or feel free to reach out to the organisers via mail!

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Defending DMA against Apple: The FSFE signs joint position paper

26. Juni 2024 um 23:00

Defending DMA against Apple: The FSFE signs joint position paper

Together with nine stakeholders organisations, the FSFE has submitted a joint position paper to the European Commission, with whom we are working on the implementation of the Digital Markets Act. This paper, supported by legal and data-backed arguments, addresses Apple’s non-compliance with the law, particularly concerning software freedom, alternative Free Software app stores and interoperability obligations.

CC-BY-SA 4.0. by Rahak for FSFE. Limitations to Free Software, vendor lock-in, and lack of control over personal data are current hurdles faced by end-users in digital markets

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) regulates large tech companies in the EU, setting the main rules for designating gatekeepers and enforcing their obligations. As a designated “gatekeeper”, Apple was required to present a strategy for complying with the DMA. Since March 2024, the European Commission (EC) has been investigating it for non-compliance.

Following a series of interventions, in order to assist the DMA enforcement procedure, the FSFE signed a joint position to the EC, highlighting the main problematic aspects of Apple in relation to Free Software.

As far as the FSFE is concerned, the main points relate to:

  • Software freedom: By blocking side-loading of apps and the unfettered installation of alternative app stores, Apple is violating Art.6(4). Concretely, paragraph 4 obliges the gatekeeper to provide users with the possibility to easily install apps from other sources than the gatekeeper’s own software application store. Recital (41) clarifies that the gatekeeper is prohibited from undermining or restricting that possibility in any way.
  • Vendor lock-in vs interoperability: By hampering effective interoperability with of hardware functions, the company is violating Art. 6(7). Apple has introduced an opaque and non-accountable system to grant interoperability that impedes Free Software projects to effectively access hardware and software functions of devices. The DMA prescribes the opposite: interoperability should be granted free of charge and effectively, so third parties can enjoy the same privileged access to hardware and software as the gatekeepers.

The FSFE welcomes the EC’s efforts in finding Apple to be in breach of the law. However, this is only the first step in a regulatory process aimed at reducing the company’s monopolistic control over devices.

Apple threatens Free Software – please help protecting software freedom!

The DMA includes several provisions directly impacting Free Software. It mandates “gatekeepers” to allow installing of software (sideloading), to enable alternative app stores and repositories to be used in devices, and several interoperability obligations, allowing third party developers to access the same hardware functions as the gatekeepers.

Apple’s unfair behaviour against Free Software highlights the critical need to monitor the implementation of the DMA. The FSFE collaborated with F-Droid, the AppFair project, and other interoperability experts to scrutinize Apple’s DMA compliance, and it’s impact on Free Software. Since then, we coordinated several expert workshops with stakeholders, discussed with regulators in FOSDEM, had official meetings with the EC’s DMA team, and submitted a comprehensive position to the EC detailing several problematic elements in the Apple compliance that will harm the Free Software.

Free Software is key for a democratic society and we should not allow gatekeepers to threaten our rights and freedoms. Apple has a huge revenue from blocking Free Software on iOS, and has dedicated a lot of resources to interpret the DMA as it deems fit. For instance, Apple publicly stated that iPhones and iPads are not general purpose computers, and users are not allowed to run the software they want.

Holding companies like Apple accountable under the DMA is a complicated, time-consuming and resource-intensive activity. It can even be a dangerous one as the risk of retaliation is real. We face it with courage and determination. If you are not yet an FSFE supporter, please join our cause today.

Defending Free Software against large corporations takes a long time, maybe more than a decade.Our long-term commitment includes engaging with Free Software communities across Europe, conducting research and analysis for legal and policy positions, participating in official hearings, and we are getting prepared to be involved in strategic litigation.

Inflation is hitting everyone, especially organizations like ours that rely on individual donations. Your regular support is vital to help us continue standing up to those who seek to circumvent the law and undermine our freedoms.

Donate now

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Save time and minimise licensing headaches with REUSE

19. Juni 2024 um 23:00

Save time and minimise licensing headaches with REUSE

REUSE helps make a project's licensing and copyright status more transparent, ensure that third-party code is properly attributed, and make the project's code easily reusable. This tool is currently used worldwide and its specification has been adopted by several corporate and institutional projects. We spoke to Matija Šuklje of Liferay International, one of the companies that has adopted REUSE.

REUSE is a set of best practices to simplify Free Software licensing, making licensing easy for humans and machines alike. It helps developers with simple guidelines for declaring their copyright and the conditions for reusing code, and provides help documents and low-threshold tools to get the job done.

Led by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), this initiative seeks to solve a fundamental issue that Free Software licensing has at the very source: what license is a file licensed under, and who owns the copyright? A set of best practices and the helper tool make the task of adding this legal information in every single file of the project a simple practice.

Since its first release in 2017, the number of projects implementing REUSE in their workflows is steadily increasing. Liferay is one of the companies that use and sponsor REUSE so we talked with its Legal Director and Associate General Counsel (FOSS & Community), Matija Šuklje.

“When we switched to REUSE that kind of snowballed a lot of the internal processes to streamline our licensing documents, and to streamline some technical development, which caused us in turn to save a lot of engineering time and even shortened negotiations and sales cycles because things were much clearer”, explains Mr. Šuklje.

REUSE Software new version

REUSE is constantly evolving and improving. The alpha version v3.1.0a1 of the REUSE tool was released a couple of weeks ago containing the new REUSE.toml functionality, and soon REUSE Specification v3.2 will be released.

“The version 3.2 of the REUSE specification adds a long-awaited improvement in the form of REUSE.toml that helps projects declare their licensing with heightened flexibility and reduced ambiguity. Furthermore, the new TOML format is much easier to parse for third parties, allowing them to read and modify this file with their own tooling”, explains Carmen Bianca Bakker, coordinator of this initiative.

More and more organisations, companies, and individuals are using REUSE and benefiting from the growing ecosystem of its specification, its helper tool, its API and all the documentation. As using REUSE does not require registration, there are not precise numbers about its users but we know that it is being adopted by:

The REUSE project is based on its community and the people who support and adopt it! The contribution of all our FSFE supporters also allows our continuing work on REUSE as well as on our other activities. You can join them by becoming an FSFE supporter (and enabling our long-term work), you can spread the word among your friends and convince them to support our work with a small donation, and you can contribute to Software Freedom in many other ways. Your support enables our work!

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I ♥ Free Software Day & SUSE OSCC network

09. Juni 2024 um 23:00

I ♥ Free Software Day & SUSE OSCC network

We got an email, a few weeks ago, that caught our attention. It came with a donation explaining that it was made in the name of an employee network at SUSE. We decided to investigate, asked the people responsible, and today we want to share this awesome story with you. (Note - this is also a great idea for an initiative to ask your company about).

Several weeks ago, we received a really nice message:

I'm part of a special interest group / employee network at SUSE called the SUSE Open Source Community Citizens (OSCC). In the spirit of the "I Love Free Software Day", we asked our SUSE colleagues to share why they got into and love Free Software. Every story told was being rewarded with 50 EUR that is going to be donated to the Free Software Foundation Europe, to support any of the activities that you're doing.

Of course our curiosity was piqued: we wanted to see the messages that they shared, to know a bit more about the SUSE OSCC group and this initiative and to know why they chose us. This is what we found:

On 14 February 2024, SUSE celebrated "I Love Free Software" day with its employees around the world with a variety of activities. One of the activities, organised by the SUSE employee volunteers of the Open Source Community Citizens, was simple: tell us why you got into Free/Libre/Open Source (FLOSS) Software and why you love it. Easy, right?

But that was not all! With the support of SUSE Cares, the SUSE Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, every story was worth $50! To donate to a non-profit charity. And for this occasion OSCC chose the Free Software Foundation Europe.

About 50 people participated sharing their 'I Love FS' messages, mainly internally through the internal communications wall but also externally on social media. In total, the amount of 2500EUR was reached, matching the Silver Sponsorship level!.

“The employee network / special interest group that organized this is focused on Open Source/Free Software and community activities. We like and generally endorse many of the activities from FSFE and several SUSE employees have been active in free software communities pretty much since GPLv2 was released. I personally have a connection to that as well”, explained Dirk Müller, one of the main organisers of this activity and a member of the OSCC group. Andy Fitzsimon, the sponsor of the employee network, said: “SUSE is proud to support the Free Software Foundation Europe, championing the ideals of free/libre software. Our donation reflects our commitment to fostering a collaborative community where technology and innovation benefit everyone.”

Although most of the reasons, often with personal messages that were shared by the SUSE colleagues, were shared within SUSE, some were posted on public social media. A few samples are below:

An awesome action, right? It really makes us happy to hear stories like these about I Love Free Software celebrations! And even more, when the initiative comes from the employees and the company supports them!

You can also help us by asking your employer to donate to the FSFE as part of their corporate responsibility program.

Donate now

Footnotes

  1. SUSE Cares is a corporate program at SUSE that focuses on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and manages a budget for the philanthropic giving program, which empowers our colleagues to volunteer their time and direct corporate donations to non-profit organizations that support any of SUSE’s chosen philanthropic goals like Education and Digital Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunities or climate action.

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EU election +++ DMA & Apple +++ REUSE tool

03. Juni 2024 um 23:00

EU election +++ DMA & Apple +++ REUSE tool

In this issue, we explain our plans to make a movie of the story of Ada & Zangemann and we are asking for your support. A new REUSE version released; read the FSFE opinion to the European Commission on Apple’s new strategy to comply with DMA and its impact on Free Software.

Table of contents

Quote of the Month

“Socks. I want the socks. I love the FS socks. And if you have, others too”

-FOSDEM 2024 FSFE attendant-

Take action! Talk to your politicians, like our FSFE Netherlands coordinator

In a couple of days, the European citizens will choose their next representatives in the European Parliament. Get active to ensure that Software Freedom is part of the larger political debate!

The FSFE Netherlands coordinator has added his voice for Free Software to Amsterdam's digital city debate. Now it's your chance to highlight the importance of Free Software in the lead-up to the upcoming European Elections next week.

FSFE Netherlands coordinator question (in Dutch):"I think in March something beautiful happened in Amsterdam: the proposal 'Amsterdam Digital Independent' (or 'autonomous') was adopted. I was wondering: in it open source is mentioned to promote autonomy, but also to promote transparency. I would say this aligns with the points of the NSC. What will you do in Europe to bring that further and to support governments and municipalities to really make progress with free and open source software?"

REUSE v.3.1.0a1

The REUSE tool v3.1.0a1 has just been released! This is an alpha release that includes the new REUSE.toml functionality that replaces .reuse/dep5 (which is being soft-deprecated). The main purpose of REUSE.toml is to resolve .reuse/dep5 scenarios as described in https://github.com/fsfe/reuse-tool/issues/779: if a file has a header and is also covered by .reuse/dep5, and the two sources of information disagree about the licence, which licence applies?

In three steps, REUSE software addresses a fundamental problem with Free Software licensing at its source: what licence is a file licensed under, and who owns the copyright? The REUSE project consists of a set of best practices and a tool that makes it easy and simple to add this legal information to every single file in a project.

We are working on releasing version 3.2 of this tool soon, so stay tuned!

Apple's approach to DMA will harm Free Software

The FSFE continues to work on the implementation of the Digital Markets Act (DMA), monitoring the strategies adopted by affected companies (gatekeepers), and their impact on Free Software. We submitted a comprehensive stakeholder position to the European Commission on how Apple cannot be compliant with DMA, and their strategy will reinforce their anti-competitive position. Our report lists that:

  • Apple should not limit business and end-users in their software freedom by overstating arguments of integrity and security of devices.
  • Apple should not discriminate against Free Software.
  • Apple should not be allowed to impose DRM encryption for app distribution regarding Free Software.
  • Apple should not be allowed to impose arbitraryinteroperability request forms, but interoperability should be granted automaticallyand effectively.

This study received substantial contributions from experts and other organizations including F-Droid, Onion Browser, and AppFair.

FSFE at the DMA compliance workshop about Apple

This report concludes that, while the DMA aims to promote contestability and fairness, Apple's proposed changes may reinforce its monopolistic behaviour by restricting software freedom, strengthening the dependency of developers and users on its own services and products, and increasing switching costs. The report also sets forth how integrity of operating systems must not be used for summarily imposing restrictions on 3rd party app stores

Ada goes to the set: let’s make an animated movie!

The illustrated book 'Ada & Zangemann: A Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream' has made it into homes and libraries around the world. Now we need your help to reach even more kids! Help us make a film of this story and continue doing readings to spark more kids’ interest in coding and tinkering!

Stories from our community

On 25 and 26 May, the RoboCup France Junior took place in Bordeaux. Nursery and primary kids presented their robots while the teens and young adults competed with theirs in various competitions from soccer to rescue. On Sunday 26 May, Théo (15y) and Émilie (12y), two young French supporters, repurposed some of their local robot club (CDSR) booth into their first FSFE booth! They proudly shared FSFE stickers and presented the children's book Ada & Zangemann.

Also in France, in this case in Lyon, FSFE volunteer Vincent Lequertier participated in the Days of the Software Libre (JDLL is its acronym in French) with two readings of the illustrated book "Ada & Zangemann: Un conte sur les logiciels, le skateboard et la glace à la framboise".

And in the Netherlands, André Ockers, volunteer and deputy coordinator of the Dutch FSFE team, presented (in English) the Free Software Foundation Europe at WikiconNL 2024, the annual conference on Wikipedia, Wikimedia, digital heritage, and free access to information in a changing world.

Do not forget to check out planet.fsfe.org; our blog aggregator has several articles that you might find interesting!

And even more: LibreItalia, DORS/CLUC 2024 and esLibre 2024 conferences

At the beginning of May, we took part in the LibreItalia Conference. It was a great occasion to meet and chat with the Italian Free Software community. We had the possibility to talk about Public Money? Public Code! and engage with a younger audience thanks to the Ada and Zangemann story!

A bit later last month, we participated in DORS/CLUC, a conference in Zagreb with two talks, one about "Making AI Really Open: The Current Landscape of Free Software and AI Licensing" and another about "When our routers are not free: the challenges for an Open and Neutral Internet".

Finally, we travelled to Valencia to attend esLibre 2024. There we presented the competition YH4F, talked about CRA, PLD, and liability in Europe and explained why Free Software is important for our society!

Our talks from esLibre and DORS/CLUC were recorded so we will upload them in our usual channels as soon as they are available!

Contribute to our Newsletter

We would love to hear from you. If you have any thoughts, pictures, or news to share, please send them to us at newsletter@fsfe.org. You can also support us, contribute to our work, and join our community. We would like to thank our community and all the volunteers, supporters, and donors who make our work possible, with a special mention to our translators who make it possible for you to read this newsletter in your mother tongue.

Your editor, Ana

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EU election: FSFE Netherlands Coordinator joins Amsterdam's Digital City Debate

29. Mai 2024 um 23:00

EU election: FSFE Netherlands Coordinator joins Amsterdam's Digital City Debate

EU elections debate: FSFE Netherlands coordinator adds voice for Free Software to Amsterdam's digital city debate. Now it's your chance to highlight the importance of Free Software in the lead-up to the upcoming European Elections next week.

With the European Elections approaching, the FSFE prompts a call to action, pointing out the importance of including Software Freedom in the political debate. On May 29, 2024, the city of Amsterdam organized the "Digitale Stad" debate, focusing on the online world of Amsterdammers and the impact of technology on the city and its residents in view of the European Elections, taking place between June 6 and 9 2024. The FSFE Netherlands coordinator, Nico Rikken, actively participated in this discussion, asking a question about Free Software.

FSFE Netherlands coordinator question that leads into a discussion during a Digital City Debate in Amsterdam. He asks (in Dutch):"I think in March something beautiful happened in Amsterdam: the proposal 'Amsterdam Digital Independent' (or 'autonomous') was adopted. I was wondering: in it open source is mentioned to promote autonomy, but also to promote transparency. I would say this aligns with the points of the NSC. What will you do in Europe to bring that further and to support governments and municipalities to really progress free and open source software?"

In the debate, the FSFE Netherlands coordinator emphasises the significance of Free Software in public administrations and its role in ensuring digital autonomy and a resilient digital society. This engagement highlights the importance for the Free Software community to get active and ensure its voice is heard in the upcoming elections. The FSFE empowers users to control technology and helps its community to make an impact. The experience of the Netherlands local group shows how this is possible:

“The European elections are a great opportunity to make an impact. For past elections we've contacted politicians and organized a “Freedomote” voting toolkit. That involved quite some work and had little impact. We discussed opportunities at our get-together and following the FSFE guide we looked into debates as a way to get in direct contact with candidates. Turns out there was one debate scheduled on digitization, held at DeBalie in Amsterdam, a location that frequently hosts debates. Looking at videos of past debates we concluded that it was at a small scale, and that there would be opportunity to speak to candidates before and after and that there was an opportunity for questions from the audience, as well. So in our online get-together we prepared a question to ask if we got the opportunity. To sum it up: little upfront investment, a bit of time to attend a great debate and made quite an impact”, explains Nico Rikken, FSFE Netherlands’ Coordinator.

With one week left to the elections, it is important to get involved and make your voices heard! The Netherlands local group meets regularly online and is very active. After reading the FSFE’s advice on how to get active during electoral campaign, they discussed together the opportunity to take part in a debate during one of their regular meet-ups. They elaborated possible questions to ask the candidates and took part in a debate happening in their area. This is only one example of the activities that local groups around Europe do every day. If you want to take part in one of the FSFE’s local groups, you will find one near you!

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Ada am Filmset: Aus ihrer Geschichte wird ein Animationsfilm!

14. Mai 2024 um 23:00

Ada am Filmset: Aus ihrer Geschichte wird ein Animationsfilm!

Was haben ein Premierminister, ein MIT-Professor und ein Kind aus Rajasthan gemeinsam? Genau wie andere Persönlichkeiten des öffentlichen Lebens und Tausende von Kindern lieben sie das Buch „Ada & Zangemann – Ein Märchen über Software, Skateboards und Himbeereis“. Ada hat es bereits in Wohnungen und Bibliotheken auf der ganzen Welt geschafft, und jetzt braucht sie deine Unterstützung, um noch mehr Kinder zu erreichen! Hilf uns, ihre Geschichte als Film zu erzählen, um mehr Kinder für das Programmieren und Tüfteln zu begeistern!

„Ada & Zangemann – Ein Märchen über Software, Skateboards und Himbeereis“ erzählt die Geschichte des berühmten Erfinders Zangemann und des Mädchens Ada, einer neugierigen Tüftlerin. Ada beginnt, mit Hard- und Software zu experimentieren, und erkennt dabei, wie wichtig es für sie und andere ist, Technik zu beherrschen.

„Eine brillant illustrierte Entdeckungsreise, die junge Menschen dazu inspirieren wird, ihre Neugierde zu entfalten und die Welt mit Technik zu gestalten.“- Zach Latta, Gründer des Hack Club

Die Geschichte wurde in mehrere Sprachen übersetzt und hat durch öffentliche Lesungen Tausende von Kindern und Erwachsenen erreicht. Jetzt wollen wir einen Schritt weiter gehen und einen 30-minütigen Film über Adas Geschichte produzieren! Der Film wird als Open Educational Resource veröffentlicht. Er soll mehr Kinder, vor allem Mädchen, zum Tüfteln und Programmieren ermutigen und gleichzeitig Inklusion und Barrierefreiheit fördern. Hilf uns, dieses Ziel zu erreichen!

„Mir gefällt, dass [die Geschichte] Mädchen vor Augen führt, wie sie programmieren und Computer benutzen können.“ - Aus der Rezension eines Kindes, Purdue

Für Mädchen ist es oft abschreckend, sich mit Technik zu beschäftigen, zu tüfteln und zu programmieren. Deswegen wird Technik weitgehend von Männern für Männer entwickelt. Ada zeigt Mädchen und jungen Frauen, dass sie Technologie und damit auch die Zukunft nach ihren Vorstellungen gestalten können.

„Die verwendete Lizenz ermöglicht auch die Übersetzung des Werks, was mich auf die Idee brachte, ein kollaboratives Bildungsprojekt für die französische Übersetzung zu starten.“- Alexis Kauffmann, Projektleiter, Französisches Ministerium für Bildung und Jugend

Dank unserer FSFE-Supporter und vieler, die uns ehrenamtlich unterstützen, ist die Geschichte bereits in neun Sprachen verfügbar und wir arbeiten an weiteren Übersetzungen. Mehr als 18.000 Exemplare von Adas Geschichte haben ihren Weg in die Hände von Kindern auf der ganzen Welt gefunden, und wir konnten mehr als 1.400 Kinder mit Lesungen, Diskussionen und Workshops erreichen.

„Eine wunderbar unterhaltsame Lektüre mit einer ermutigenden Botschaft für jüngere Generationen, die unsere Welt und die Art, wie wir in ihr leben, prägen wird.“- Kaye Fogarty, Lehrerin an einer Schule in Marbella, die mit ihren Schülern eine Lesung durchgeführt hat

Deine Spende hilft uns, Adas Geschichte als Animationsfilm umzusetzen, um ein breiteres Publikum zu erreichen, damit noch mehr Kinder, insbesondere Mädchen, von dieser Geschichte zu Neugier und Tüfteln ermutigt werden. Der Film wird frei herunterzuladen und zu teilen sein. Man kann ihn in Schulen verwenden und in andere Unterrichtsmaterialien integrieren, um die Qualität der IT-Bildung zu verbessern, die für junge Menschen in unserer digitalen Gesellschaft so wichtig ist.

„Dieses moderne Märchen ist eine großartige Parabel. Es zeigt perfekt wie wichtig digitale Freiheiten für unser tägliches Leben sind. Der Tonfall ist freundlich, heiter und zuversichtlich, dass die junge Generation stärker sein wird als wir es waren“- JB Kempf, Präsident, VideoLAN

Deine Unterstützung macht einen Unterschied! Sie wird uns helfen, diesen Film zu verwirklichen, und durch sie können wir Adas Geschichte durch Lesungen in verschiedenen Sprachen verbreiten und auch andere dazu ermutigen!

„Dieses Buch ist genau das, was ich an meine Kinder weitergeben möchte!“- Canelle A., Schülerin an einem Pariser Gymnasium

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LLW 2024 +++ YH4F interviews +++ Ada in France

07. Mai 2024 um 23:00

LLW 2024 +++ YH4F interviews +++ Ada in France

May comes with legal news such as the Legal & Licensing Workshop and the Bitcoin lawsuit regarding the liability of Free Software developers. We also talked to two 2023 YH4F participants and our Danish local group sent an Open Letter to their parliament. Did you see that Ada & Zangemann won a prize and that the French ebook version is now available?

Table of contents

Quote of the Month

"As in our democracies, the distribution of power in the field of technology is essential. And we need to show that an inclusive path is possible".

-Matthias Kirschner, thanking the Forum InCyber for the prize given to Ada & Zangemann.

LLW 2024: A forum for difficult legal topics of Free Software in Gothenburg

For the second year in a row, the Swedish city of Gothenburg hosted an edition of the Free Software Legal & Licensing Workshop (LLW), the annual conference for the Legal Network members. The 2024 edition brought new faces and great discussions and presentations on current legal and licensing issues related to technological developments such as AI.

Meet Antoni and Tobias, YH4F participants

Find out more about the Youth Hacking 4 Freedom participants of the 2023 edition. We are continuing this series talking with Antoni and Tobias: Antoni developed a dictionary to preserve endangered languages, and Tobias conceived a rich featured calendar.

Free Software developers' liability and the Bitcoin lawsuit

Free Software is everywhere, with studies estimating that it is present in about 96% of the applications that we use. But what are the responsibilities and liabilities of the Free Software developers? A potential threat to Free Software developers looms in the form of an ongoing lawsuit in the UK involving Bitcoin and its core developers.

Find more about it

Ada & Zangemann: news from France

  • ‘Ada & Zangemann: A Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream’ has been awarded the 2024 Youth Book Prize of the InCyber Forum Europe. This is the first time this prize has been awarded to a children's book.
  • 300 copies of Ada & Zangemann were distributed to teachers at the Journée du Libre Éducatif 2024. The book was presented at this fair, that this year was held in Paris, by two of the students who translated it.
  • More great news! The French publisher CFE editions published an online version of "Ada & Zangemann - A Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream": https://ada-lelivre.fr/.

Danish local group initiative

The FSFE Danish local group has sent an Open Letter to the IT spokespersons of all the political parties in the Danish Parliament, entitled “Digitalisation problems can be solved with Free/Open Source Software”. In this letter, the local group pointed out several examples of cases in which using proprietary software is harming citizens’ rights and privacy, for example the municipalities' strong wish to use proprietary software (Google Classroom) in schools, which is actively sharing students' private data to Google in violation of the GDPR.

The local group is currently waiting for an official answer from the parliamentarians though they have already received positive responses.

You can check the letter (in Danish) here.

Germany: Public TV broadcasters announce ‘Streaming OS’ as Free Software

The German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF have announced that they will integrate their media centres in future and publish their code as Free Software. Under the name ‘Streaming OS’, the software will be available to the general public under a Free Software licence.

In their announcement, the directors of the broadcasters emphasise that by publishing the code, they want to give something back to society that it has previously paid for. ARD and ZDF are thus addressing the core idea of our FSFE initiative ‘Public Money? Public Code!’. We are looking forward to seeing Streaming OS and its code in 2025!

The Berlin group of the FSFE participated in the 2024 edition of the Umweltsfestival (Environmental Festival) together with Bits&Bäume Berlin and KDE Eco. Our volunteers explained to festival attendees the sustainable use of computers with Free Software as well as other FSFE initiatives such as Public Money, Public Code and even answered questions about the Fediverse.

Get involved: organize an Ada & Zangemann reading!

Do you want to help spread the word about Free Software to the younger generations? You can do it with an Ada & Zangemann reading! If you like children, this is an easy and a great way to talk to them about Free Software. And everyone who has done it has found it a really rewarding and enriching experience!

If you are interested in facilitating a reading of the book in schools or libraries, write to contact@fsfe.org.

Contribute to our Newsletter

We would love to hear from you. If you have any thoughts, pictures, or news to share, please send them to us at newsletter@fsfe.org. You can also support us, contribute to our work, and join our community. We would like to thank our community and all the volunteers, supporters, and donors who make our work possible, with a special mention to our translators who make it possible for you to read this newsletter in your mother tongue.

Your editor, Ana

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LLW 2024: A forum for difficult legal topics of Free Software in Gothenburg

05. Mai 2024 um 23:00

LLW 2024: A forum for difficult legal topics of Free Software in Gothenburg

For the second year in a row, the Swedish city of Gothenburg hosted an edition of the Free Software Legal & Licensing Workshop (LLW), the annual conference for Legal Network members. The 2024 edition brought new faces and great discussions and presentations on current legal and licensing issues related to technological developments such as AI.

Under a sunny and blue sky, the beautiful Swedish city of Gothenburg once again hosted FSFE’s Free Software Legal & Licensing Workshop (LLW), a two and a half day conference for members of the Legal Network community to meet face-to-face and share legal expertise in a safe space. It was great to have attendees engaging with the speakers in interesting legal discussions, as well as to see them use the venue to engage in impromptu discussions on legal theory, policy, and case law related to Free Software topics. This shows how valuable this conference has become for Free Software legal professionals, who arrived from Europe, the Americas, and Asia, and the importance of a healthy community to encourage discussion of the most current Free Software legal topics and to network in order to build a culture of knowledge exchange in the legal sector.

Discussion, even controversial, can help legal experts to make better decisions while accomplishing the mission of empowering users to control technology. Good examples are Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, that continued to be hot topics during this year’s edition, with a number of discussions on the conference agenda touching on the legal ramifications of AI developments on software and licensing.

Nevertheless, there were many other developments from the past year for attendees to discuss as well, from new legislative initiatives and case law in various jurisdictions within and outside the European Union, to presentations to introduce various community-initiated compliance tools, to conversations about more philosophical ideas regarding Free Software and community.

"I have been working for 2 years in this field now. In the past 2 days I learnt more on those topics than in the 2 years before", said one participant in LLW 2024

This conference also gives newcomers who may be a little shy about participating in discussions on the mailing list a chance to introduce themselves and meet various more established members of the community in person. The FSFE believes in the importance of supporting young professionals, which is why this conference also offers a mentoring programme, so that experienced members can help integrate newcomers into the Free Software legal community, as well as to help them build professional connections and expertise.

We appreciate all Legal Network members who took the time to participate in person and hope to see them again next year. It is extremely heartening for us to see the Free Software legal community grow in strength and knowledge with regular meetings like the LLW.

We want to thank our sponsors: Intel, Red Hat, Microsoft, Amazon, Bosch, Ericsson, Siemens, Volvo, Bird & Bird, Google, the law firm Heuking, and the Open Invention Network.

The Legal Network

The Legal Network is a neutral, non-partisan group of experts in different fields involved in Free Software legal issues. Currently the Legal Network has over 400 participants from different legal systems, academic backgrounds and affiliations.

The aim of the Legal Network is to promote discussion and foster better knowledge of the legal constructs that back Free Software. The conversations on the Legal Network are intended to be dynamic, thought-provoking, and up to speed with the most recent developments.

The Legal Network is a safe space to promote legal knowledge about Free Software so that companies can make strategic decisions about Free Software development based on an understanding of how Free Software licensing and other related legal issues work. This allows Free Software developers and legal professionals who work within larger companies to continue to contribute to software freedom.

Admission to the Legal Network is restricted, and the discussions held there are confidential. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the content of the mailing list is contained away from the larger Free Software community. The Chatham House Rule applies to all discussions on the Legal Network mailing list and at Legal Network events, which enables members to use the information received, but not to reveal the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker or any of the participants involved in the discussion.

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Meet Antoni and Tobias, YH4F participants

29. April 2024 um 23:00

Meet Antoni and Tobias, YH4F participants

Find out more about the Youth Hacking 4 Freedom participants of the 2023 edition. We are continuing this series talking with Antoni and Tobias: Antoni developed a dictionary to preserve endangered languages, and Tobias conceived a rich featured calendar.

Antoni and Tobias participated in YH4F in 2023, being both currently in their last year of high school. Antoni is Polish and he developed the Endangered Languages Dictionary, software with the purpose of keeping languages at risk of extinction alive, valuing the contribution of native language speakers. Tobias comes from the Netherlands, and he developed Plan2Go, a calendar webapp he got the idea for while talking with his friends.

Read along to learn more about these projects and their developers!

FSFE: Hi Tobias and Antoni! Can you introduce yourselves before explaining your projects?

Tobias: I’m Tobias from the Netherlands and I’m 17 years old. I love programming and helping others by making software. Sometimes I play video games or make stuff for video games.

Antoni: My name is Antoni, I am a high school student from Poland. I’m mainly a linguistics and computer science nerd, but am also interested in sociology, psychology, cultural studies, literature, and philosophy. I would like to study computer science and classics.

FSFE: What is the project you developed for YH4F 2023? How does it work?

Antoni: The Endangered Languages Dictionary (ELD) project aims to be a dictionary for the world’s languages that are at risk of extinction. The project home page–still in construction–intends to only have a title in Esperanto and a bar redirecting to the selected language main page. There one can search for a phrase. The browser calculates Levenshtein’s distance between the phrase being searched and all the phrases in the given sub-dictionary (the upper limit of the search is the number to the left of the search bar that one can specify, the default is 2). All phrases meeting the specified criteria are displayed on the page as hyperlinks to their specific pages.

The landing page of the Endangered Languages Dictionary

Tobias: I developed Plan2Go with the idea to make a planning app that is fully customisable and with many features. The front end has been coded with HTML and CSS, and the calendar and customisations are made using JavaScript. You can get access to the calendar by using the website hosted on GitLab Pages, by cloning the code and building the source, or by using the desktop app.

The main page of Plan2Go with example events

Tobias: Once you are in, you see an overview of the current month and you can click to add new events. If you click on an existing event, you can view more details about it and you can delete it. If you click above an event, you can add another event. Using the “Back” and “Next” buttons you can go back and forward in months. When an event starts, you could get a notification [not fully working, see below in the interview]. Overall, its key features are: multiple events per day, theme switcher, exporting and importing iCals, secret Easter Eggs, PWA installable and a desktop app version available.

Plan2Go example event details window

FSFE: What motivated you to create this software?

Antoni: I wanted to provide an online presence of the endangered languages to prevent their native speakers, especially the young ones, from abandoning their tongues. I believe “if you aren’t online, you don’t exist” to be an unjust rule. This dictionary was going to be the first step in achieving this.

Tobias: Mostly, the idea came while talking with my friends, who just started programming. We made a whole list of stuff that we could make, and we shared this list publicly. Eventually, I just let my friends choose what to do. They chose to go with a planner, and we made that.

FSFE: Your projects are Free Software! When and how did you get in touch with the movement?

Antoni: One day, at school, I was chatting with a classmate and introduced Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) to him. He replied he preferred VirtualBox, as “it is open source” After I explained to him that he was wrong [VirtualBox is licensed under GPL, but the extensions are proprietary], and the openness of the source code of WSL, he asked for evidence, and he got it. After examining the codebase, he wrote me: “It is quite similar to the situation when you would paint a beautiful white shirt in brown just to wallow it in the mud. (of course the shirt is Linux)”. This has influenced me to the degree that I got pushed even further in that direction than my classmate.

Tobias: I always only made software for myself, I began to do it more seriously when I found out that other people might also want my software. So I published it online, without any license.

FSFE: So it seems that at the time you did not know that by default, if you do not specify a license, it is copyrighted.

Tobias: Yes, I discovered Free Software licenses thanks to YH4F!

FSFE: Both projects are very interesting and ambitious. Why did you decide to code them from scratch, rather than to contribute existing projects?

Tobias: It’s always nice to have one [project] that you can completely modify the way you want. If you are going to contribute to other projects that are already kind of finished, there is only a little bit of stuff that you might be able to add. We had about six months, and I did not really think I could just spend all of it contributing to just an existing project. Most probably, I would have been done before the end of the coding period. Above all, it is very helpful to know what’s behind a project you build from scratch by your own.

Antoni: I didn’t find any Free Software similar to mine, though I didn’t actively do any in-depth research. If it comes to the value of ELD, it is low-bandwith friendly as it doesn’t depend heavily on stylesheets. Additionally, this also implies a decrease of resources. needed only to render a webpage!

FSFE: How was the experience of developing your software during YH4F 2023?

Antoni: What I enjoyed the most was the fact that this is not only a competition, but also an opportunity to learn something, just by participating! I think that is mainly because of the long timespan given and the short list of requirements.

Tobias: I liked the whole thing! You can program stuff, you can join meetings with other participants and have a discussion. For example, you can explain your project and then get some feedback. That’s the deal: making software and getting feedback from others. And just having fun.

FSFE: What are the future plans for your project?

Antoni: I would like to share the message to conserve endangered languages because it is quite sad that we are losing linguistic diversity. The world would be less interesting and less rich. About extending the project, I am going to pause its development, and get back to it once I have resources, such as time and money.

Tobias: If I find the time and I get an idea to add something to the software or just fix a feature that does not work right now (like the time notifications) then I will work on it. Otherwise, I will just leave it as it is right now.

FSFE: Thank you Antoni and Tobias. We wish you a bright future and a lot of success with your plans!

The 2024 edition of Youth Hacking 4 Freedom is still going on now! The coding period ends on 30 June and you can still take part in the 2024 edition via last minute registration. Check out the YH4F website to find out all the details of this competition or feel free to reach out to the organisers via mail!

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Are Free Software developers at risk?

16. April 2024 um 23:00

Are Free Software developers at risk?

Free Software is everywhere, with studies estimating that it is present in about 96% of the applications that we use. But what are the responsibilities and liabilities of the Free Software developers? A potential threat to Free Software developers looms in the form of an ongoing lawsuit in the UK involving Bitcoin and its core developers.

Bitcoin (BTC) is a cryptocurrency created in 2009 that operates under the MIT Free Software licence. After its creator disappeared, a group of software developers continued to develop Bitcoin independently. Currently, Dr. Craig Wright, who claimed to be the creator of Bitcoin, is suing the Bitcoin developers in the UK courts through his company, Tulip Trading Limited (Tulip). This company claims to have lost £3 billion worth of bitcoin due to a hack that compromised the private keys, resulting in the loss of access to the funds. In this lawsuit Tulip is demanding that the Bitcoin developers provide access to the lost Bitcoin, arguing that the developers have a legal obligation to provide access or offer equitable compensation or damages.

As such, this legal case is currently drawing attention to the issue of Free Software developers' liability, in particular the extent to which they are responsible to their users.

UK High Court’s opinion: Developers have no legal duties or a duty of care in this case, but they do have certain duties in some specific situations.

The High Court considered whether software developers and controllers of digital asset networks bear legal obligations to cryptocurrency holders who rely on their software. The court ruled in favour of the developers, stating that as a "fluctuating body of individuals", the developers could not realistically maintain ongoing obligations. The court rejected the notion that developers should be compelled to provide software updates upon the request of digital asset owners, emphasising the absence of any explicit commitment or assurance by the developers. Regarding the alleged tortious duties, the Court determined that the developers did not owe Tulip a duty of care, highlighting that Tulip's loss was solely economic.

A duty of care is a legal responsibility imposed on an individual that requires them to follow a level of reasonable care when conducting any acts that could endanger others.

However, the court recognized that, in certain cases, software developers have specific duties. For instance, developers must exercise caution to avoid harming users' interests and may have an obligation to remedy bugs or faults in the system.

The court also acknowledged that the disclaimer in the MIT license, broadly disclaims liability for software issues. However, the court did not confirm whether this disclaimer absolved BTC Network developers of responsibility for its operation. This is because:

  • the MIT disclaimer has never been litigated, and the court is free to decide and set precedent.
  • such disclaimers are not easily found when using software.

UK Court of Appeal’s opinion: Arguable that developers owe some fiduciary legal duties

On appeal, the Court of Appeal (the second highest court in the UK) overturned the High Court's decision, concluding that it was at least arguable that the developers owe fiduciary legal duties to cryptocurrency owners. The court noted the exclusive control of the Bitcoin software code by a small group of developers and their decision-making role on behalf of all Bitcoin owners, resembling fiduciary responsibilities. The court also noted that only a handful of developers have exclusive access to the Bitcoin software code on GitHub. For example, if a Bitcoin owner notices a bug, he or she is unable to fix it because only the developers with access can do so, and they have to agree to do so. In the eyes of the court, this is a clear exercise of the de facto power of the developers. The court completely missed the point that no one can prevent others from applying a fix to the code - that is part of the fundamental freedom that comes with Free Software: if the developers of a particular repository refuse to apply needed fixes, the community can fork the project and bypass those developers.

Furthermore, code is speech. Freedom of expression includes expression in the language of computer code as well. Imposing disproportionate duties on Free Software developers forces them to change their code, and therefore infringes on their freedom of expression. The court also observed that the developers have a positive duty to fix bugs and code errors and a negative duty to refrain from acting in their own self-interest.

In summary, Tulip's case raises significant legal questions, and according to the latest developments, Tulip must prove ownership of the alleged stolen bitcoins in a preliminary trial.

Chilling effect on Free Software development?

Common law in the UK (and other countries) is developed through court decisions and precedents. When a court makes a decision in a case, it establishes a legal precedent that serves as a guide for future cases with similar circumstances. Lower courts generally have to follow the precedents set by the higher courts. Courts in common law countries tend to also borrow concepts and precedents from other countries if there is no local precedent available. The law and legal scholarship around Free Software developers’ duties is underdeveloped and almost non-existent. If Tulip succeeds in their case, it may set an international legal precedent, opening the floodgates to litigation. This means that any user of Free Software could potentially sue developers for alleged breaches of duty.

A fiduciary duty, as claimed by Tulip, refers to the legal duty of a person or entity to act in the best interests of another party, typically referred to as the beneficiary or principal. This duty is characterized by trust, confidence, and reliance on the fiduciary to act ethically and responsibly on behalf of the beneficiary. Fiduciary duties exist in only very specific relationships, like those of trustees, solicitors, agents, partners, and company directors. Attaching these duties to Free Software developers is unprecedented and disproportionate.

Free Software production, a catalyst for technological innovation, relies on voluntary contributions. Imposing fiduciary duties (or any disproportionate duties) on developers could deter them from participating in Free Software projects, fearing legal repercussions. This could lead to a chilling effect, where developers opt for more restrictive licensing, or refrain from sharing their code altogether, or release the software only in jurisdictions where there are no duties out of fear of litigation. The results of such an effect would be disastrous; stifling innovation and potentially halting the progress of specific Free Software endeavours.

In essence, if the court rules in favour of Tulip, it can have far-reaching consequences that can be detrimental to the Free Software developers in the following ways:

  1. Courts may impose an active duty on Free Software developers to fix what the courts deem to be problematic issues.
  2. In future courts may impose an active duty on Free Software developers to not cause any bugs that impact users. This can potentially expose the developers to litigation for just letting through a bug or failing to spot a bug.
  3. Courts may also impose obligations on Free Software developers that require them to compromise the cryptographic integrity guarantees of the software. This could involve mandates to weaken encryption algorithms or provide backdoor access, directly undermining the security measures designed to protect user privacy and data confidentiality. Such orders would not only compromise the effectiveness of encryption software but also the tools such as secure file deletion or data recovery.

Free Software development thrives on the collaborative efforts of developers worldwide, continually evolving. The developers’ autonomy inherent in Free Software must not be jeopardized by the fear of unjust litigation. FSFE remains vigilant in safeguarding against threats to developer autonomy that could stifle innovation. In the light of these concerns, we call upon the developers to persist in their invaluable work without fear.

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DMA und Geräteneutralität +++ Abstimmung über CRA & PLD +++ EU-Wahlen: aktiv werden!

01. April 2024 um 23:00

DMA und Geräteneutralität +++ Abstimmung über CRA & PLD +++ EU-Wahlen: aktiv werden!

Im letzten Monat trat der DMA in Kraft, wir haben eine Website zur Geräteneutralität eingerichtet, das EU-Parlament hat über den CRA und die PLD abgestimmt und wir haben einen Leitfaden für die bevorstehenden EU-Wahlen veröffentlicht. Sehen Sie sich die Videos aus unseren Devrooms auf der FOSDEM an!

Lassen wir die Geräteneutralität in Europa Wirklichkeit werden!

Am 7. März letzten Jahres ist in der Europäischen Union der Digital Markets Act (DMA) in Kraft getreten. Dieser Meilenstein markiert den Beginn der Geräteneutralität als greifbare Realität in der Europäischen Union. Die FSFE begrüßt die neue Gesetzgebung, aber wir möchten anmerken, dass dies nur der erste Schritt ist, und dass weiteres Engagement notwendig ist!Lesen Sie diesen Artikel um mehr zu erfahren.

Um das öffentliche Bewusstsein für die Geräteneutralität zu schärfen, hat die FSFE deviceneutrality.org ins Leben gerufen. Diese Seite bietet detaillierte Einblicke in das Thema Geräteneutralität und Freie Software, Werbematerial zum Herunterladen und weitere Möglichkeiten zur Verbreitung des Themas. Probieren Sie es aus!

CRA & PLD Abstimmung im Europäischen Parlament

Das Europäische Parlament hat am 12. März über den Cyber Resilience Act (CRA) und die Produkthaftungsrichtlinie (PLD) abgestimmt. Hinsichtlich der Einführung von Haftungsregeln für Software wurde eine weitreichende Ausnahme für Freie Software gemacht, so dass nach langen und intensiven Debatten einzelne Entwickler und gemeinnützige Arbeit geschützt sind. Wir werden daher die Umsetzung genau beobachten und darauf achten, ob die Softwarefreiheit entsprechend geschützt wird.

Lesen Sie die vollständige Erklärung der FSFE

Sehen Sie sich die Aufzeichnungen von der FOSDEM an!

Haben Sie die FOSDEM 2024 verpasst oder hatten Sie nicht die Möglichkeit, an den Devrooms teilzunehmen, an denen wir mitgewirkt haben? Wir haben die Aufzeichnungen für Sie bereitgestellt.

Wir haben wieder den inzwischen wohlbekannten Devroom "Legal & Policy Issues" mitorganisiert. Die Diskussionen in diesem Programm behandelten wichtige Themen für die Softwarefreiheit, wie CRA, RHEL und die Beendigung der Rechte unter der GPL. Darüber hinaus halfen wir bei der Organisation eines Devrooms über Freie Software in der europäischen Gesetzgebungslandschaft.

Werden Sie aktiv bei den Wahlen in der Europäischen Union!

Die europäischen Bürgerinnen und Bürger werden vom 6. bis 9. Juni 2024 zu den Wahlurnen gehen, um ihre zukünftigen Vertreter im Europäischen Parlament zu wählen. In der heißen Phase des Wahlkampfs ist es wichtig, aktiv zu werden und dafür zu sorgen, dass die Softwarefreiheit Teil der breiten politischen Debatte ist.

Wie können Sie das tun? Hier finden Sie praktische Vorschläge, wie Sie sich in den kommenden Monaten für Freie Software einsetzen können! Ihre Unterstützung bei der Übersetzung des Leitfadens wäre eine große Hilfe, um so viele europäische Bürger wie möglich zu erreichen!

Neuigkeiten von ZOOOM

Im Rahmen ihrer Zusammenarbeit mit dem Zooom-Konsortium hat die FSFE vier Kapitel in zwei umfassenden Berichten zu rechtlichen und wirtschaftlichen Aspekten Freier Software erstellt. Diese Berichte befassen sich mit einer breiten Themenpalette und liefern empirische Daten zu Freie- Software-Themen in Europa in Bezug auf kritische Technologien, wie z.B. KI. Die FSFE hat außerdem eine Studie darüber beigesteuert, wie der Begriff "offen" fälschlicherweise für KI-Projekte verwendet wird, die keine Freie Software sind.

Vergangene und kommende Veranstaltungen

Am Wochenende des 16. und 17. März besuchten einige unserer Mitarbeiter zusammen mit Freiwilligen die Chemnitzer Linux-Tage! Wir haben uns sehr gefreut, so viele von Ihnen zu treffen und mit Ihnen über so viele Themen rund um die Softwarefreiheit zu sprechen. Wir standen auch auf der Bühne, um über Youth Hacking 4 Freedom zu informieren!

"Ada & Zangemann - Eine Geschichte von Software, Skateboards und Himbeereis" kommt nach Belgien! Besuchen Sie die Lesung in Brüssel am Donnerstag, den 4. April um 15:00 Uhr!

Am 15. und 16. April findet die foss-north im Chalmers Conference Centre in Göteborg, Schweden, statt. Die Veranstaltung wird als Präsenzveranstaltung durchgeführt.. Weitere Informationen

Zitat des Monats

Die Lösungen von morgen müssen mit öffentlichem Code entwickelt werden. Dies nicht nur, um eine vernünftige Verwendung öffentlicher Gelder zu gewährleisten, sondern auch, um die Wahlfreiheit zu fördern und die Bindung an bestimmte Anbieter zu vermeiden.

~ EU-Kommissar Johannes Hahn zum Thema "Öffentliches Geld, öffentlicher Code".

Tragen Sie zu unserem Newsletter beir

Wir würden uns freuen, von Ihnen zu hören. Wenn Sie uns Ihre Gedanken, Bilder oder Neuigkeiten mitteilen möchten, senden Sie uns diese bitte an newsletter@fsfe.org. Sie können uns auch unterstützen, einen Beitrag zu unserer Arbeit leisten und unserer Gemeinschaft beitreten. Wir möchten unserer Gemeinschaft und allen Freiwilligen, Unterstützern und Spendern danken, die unsere Arbeit möglich machen. Ein besonderer Dank geht an unsere Übersetzer, die es Ihnen ermöglichen, diesen Newsletter in Ihrer Muttersprache zu lesen.

Ihre Redakteure, Ana and Tommi

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Let’s advocate together for Free Software in the European Elections

20. März 2024 um 23:00

Let’s advocate together for Free Software in the European Elections

European citizens will hit the ballot boxes from 6 to 9 June 2024 to choose their next representatives in the European Parliament. As the campaign heats up, it is important to get active and ensure Software Freedom is part of the larger political debate. How can you do this? Find practical advice on how to advocate for Free Software in the coming months!

Every five years, European citizens elect their representatives to the European Parliament, the EU's sole directly elected institution. These representatives shape new EU legislation and how taxpayers' money is spent. The electoral campaign has started and candidates across Europe are organising and taking part in different events to listen to citizens’ demands. Electoral programs are often written during these events, together with your input. Get active and ask your candidates their stance on Free Software (also known as Open Source).

Get to know your candidates and their events

Identifying your local EU candidates is the first step to starting the debate. You can search political parties’ and institutional websites to find the candidates running for election in your area. If elected, they are the ones who represent you based on your area of residence and have more direct contact with their constituents. In the run-up to the elections, round-table discussions, election booths and debates with candidates will be held. To find those, do not forget to check the candidates’ social network accounts, too.

Additionally, seek recommendations from local Free Software advocacy groups or communities, as they might take part in or organise meetings related to the European elections.

Talk to your candidates

Once you found a way to talk to your candidates, you can kick off the conversation starting with the basics. If you cannot find any event around your area, you can directly ask for a meeting with the candidates, or you can propose local groups and communities to organise one! Ask candidates if they know what Free Software is and tell them why it is important for a democratic society. If you cannot go to an event or meet the candidate in person, you can also write an email to your local candidate and ask their position on Free Software.

Free Software is an important topic when it comes to public administrations. You can use the following arguments to explain why:

  • Free Software, thanks to the four freedoms, allows public administrations to take control of their digital infrastructure. Using Free Software in public administrations is a prerequisite for becoming digitally sovereign and crucial for a resilient digital society, especially in times of crisis.
  • Free Software licenses help public administrations to escape dependency and vendor lock-in, which at a high cost hinders competition and innovation.
  • Free Software ensures that the source code is accessible so that security holes can be fixed without depending on one service provider.

Mention the FSFE’s “Public Money? Public Code!” initiative and ask the candidates a position on the topic. Make their answers public to help other people in the EU understand the candidates’ positions on Free Software.

You can also find informative material on Free Software, “Public Money? Public Code!” and other relevant topics on our website. All the material can be printed or requested for free through our request form. This material can be useful to get a basic and simple understanding of Free Software and can be easily shared. Make use of it!

Find more advice, a mail template and a toot template in this new page on how to get active during electoral campaigns!

Be active on social media

Do you want to use social media platforms to amplify your message and engage a wider audience? Share informative content about Free Software, emphasise the importance of open standards, and advocate for policies prioritising digital freedoms. Use hashtags like #publiccode to join discussions and encourage others to do the same, pointing out Free Software's significance for shaping our democratic society in the digital age.

Moreover, you can use our share-pic generator and share why you support our “Public Money? Public Code!” campaign. Post your share-pic on social media and encourage others to do the same.

You can also follow us on social media and contribute to spreading the word during these crucial months that will shape Europe for the next years.

Help us continue our work

Our team and volunteers are working daily with decision-makers, advocating for Free Software on all levels. Your support enables us to continue our work, protecting our community and engaging with legislators to shape policies that uphold Free Software principles. Please consider becoming an FSFE supporter and making a donation. Thank you!

Become a supporter!

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Looking back: Software freedom discussion @FOSDEM

17. März 2024 um 23:00

Looking back: Software freedom discussion @FOSDEM

Once again we co-organised our now well-known Legal & Policy Issues Devroom during FOSDEM 2024. The discussions in this track covered important issues for Software Freedom, such as CRA, RHEL, GPL termination, where discussed. Thanks to everyone who participated in it!

The Legal and Policy Issues Devroom took place on the first day of FOSDEM in one of the main rooms, which was packed throughout the track. In fact, this was the 12th edition and FSFE’s fourth year of co-organising in this devroom.

Together with our co-hosts this devroom once again focused on current political and legal challenges we face in the world of software freedom. These included discussions on recent licencing practices around RHEL and CentOS, questions on how to deal with with trademark issues, GPL termination under German law, discussion around GPLv3/AGPLv3 Section 7 and the new Swiss law on the procurement of Free Software.

id you miss the talks or do you want to watch them again? We have complied all the talks from this devroom in this video

As always the dev room ended with a discussion that brought all the organisers on stage: Karen Sandler and Bradley Kuhn from the Software Freedom Conservancy, Tom Marble, and Alexander Sander and Matthias Kirschner from FSFE talked about the most important issues for software freedom, touching on the Liability discussion in Europe around the Cyber Resilience Act, Product Liability Directive but also the AI Act, as well as discussing current cases and campaigns.

“Once again, we were able to bring exciting and pressing issues related to the law and politics of software freedom to the stage and discuss them with the FOSDEM community, raising awareness of how these issues intersect strongly with technological advances, and therefore why it is important to address and debate them”.

Alexander Sander, FSFE's Senior Policy Consultant and one of the devroom organizers

Last but not least, we want to thank you to everyone who take part of this devroom, from the amazing speakers to the participants who engaged in fruitful discussions to the FOSDEM organizers. We cannot wait to see you next year! And if you have any suggestion about topics and speakers, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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EU policy meets Free Software in FOSDEM

17. März 2024 um 23:00

EU policy meets Free Software in FOSDEM

The FSFE helped to organise a FOSDEM devroom about Free Software in the European legislative landscape. It was the first time that this devroom was held and got a lot of interest from the community, that engaged in fruitful discussions about current EU policy topics.

During the last edition of FOSDEM, an EU policy devroom was organised and FSFE helped to co-organise it! On the second day of the conference, some of our staff and volunteers took part in this devroom, which was packed, and where the community had the opportunity to discuss current policy topics together with European lawmakers.

The devroom kicked off the day with a discussion on the new liability rules for Free Software. This turned into a broader debate on how the Free Software community can and should engage in the decision making process. Alexander Sander, FSFE's Senior Policy Consultant, moderated the session on "FOSS Policy Engagement", including a panel and a fishbowl discussion. After that, Lina Ceballos, FSFE Policy Project Manager, opened the session on “Public Services interoperability” and the Interoperable Europe Act, followed by a discussion between decision makers and the Community on the challenges and opportunities that the Interoperable Europe Act means for the Free Software community. Finally, Lucas Lasota, FSFE Programme Manager, together with our Netherlands Coordinator Niko Rikken, highlighted the main challenges for Router Freedom and Device Neutrality in Europe.

As this was the first time that we co organised this devroom, we are particularly interested in your feedback when it comes to the idea itself but also on the different format which was used to discuss those topics. We also want to thanks to the other devroom organizers: Simon Phipps, Enzo Ribagnac, Maarten Aertsen, Axel Thévernet, Deb Bryant, and Gijs Hillenius.

EU policy devroom

CRA & PLD: Free Software in the European legislative landscape Free Software policy engagement: Free Software in the European legislative landscape Public Services Interoperability : Free Software in the European legislative landscape Digital Services Interoperability: Free Software in the European legislative landscape

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CRA & PLD: Liability rules with large exemptions for Free Software are introduced

11. März 2024 um 23:00

CRA & PLD: Liability rules with large exemptions for Free Software are introduced

With today's votes on CRA and PLD on the introduction of liability rules for software, a broad exception for Free Software was made, so that after long and intense debates individual developers and non for profit work are safeguarded.

On Tuesday, March 12, the two votes in the plenary of the European Parliament on the Cyber Resilience Act (CRA) and the Product Liability Directive (PLD) marked the provisional end of a long debate on the introduction of liability rules for software - with a broad exemption for Free Software.

Already at an early stage, the FSFE argued in a hearing in the EU Parliament, for the inclusion of clear and precise exemptions for Free Software development in the legislation and for liability to be transferred to those who significantly financially benefit from it on the market.

The co-legislators have largely complied with our demands and following intensive debates, have significantly improved the Commission’s proposal, by introducing an exemption for Free Software and including it in the articles of the regulation. In the future, individual developers and non-profit development of Free Software will be exempt from the CRA and the PLD. Nevertheless, the wording in both the regulations are different and a standardisation processes and guidelines are still being drawn up. We will therefore closely monitor the implementation and whether Software Freedom is protected accordingly. The efforts of Free Software advocates have also helped to ensure that decision maker in EU institutions now have a better understanding of Free Software and its various stakeholders, which will be useful in future debates.

"In the debate about liability rules for Free Software, it has become clear how important Free Software is for our economic and social development. On the other hand, it has also become clear what needs to be taken into account in the Regulation when it comes to software freedom. This has shown the immense importance of working together with the various stakeholders in Free Software development and distribution and as well as to understand and accommodate the different interests of these players," concludes Alexander Sander, FSFE`s Senior Policy Consultant.

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Let’s make Device Neutrality a reality in Europe!

06. März 2024 um 23:00

Let’s make Device Neutrality a reality in Europe!

As the Digital Markets Act comes into effect today, Device Neutrality starts to become a tangible reality in the European Union. While acknowledging the new law, the FSFE alerts that this is only the first step and further commitment is necessary.

Digital devices are becoming increasingly important tools in our daily tasks, with more and more of us using them in different areas of our lives. However, we, as end-users, are losing control over them – especially the ability to run Free Software – due to unfair practices by device manufacturers, vendors, and platforms.

Device Neutrality aims to restore end-user control over devices by ensuring software freedom in devices, protecting users from lock-ins and promoting their control over data in devices. It seeks to enable end-users to run the software of their choice and use services independently of the control exercised by hardware manufacturers, vendors, and platforms, known as gatekeepers.

Some aspects of Device Neutrality are imposed on large tech companies by the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a recent EU law that enters into force on 7 March, to reestablish higher degrees of competition in digital markets. Therefore, the DMA will be applicable to six gatekeepers: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Bytedance, Meta, and Microsoft.

The FSFE has been involved with the DMA throughout the legislative process, and welcomes its entry into force, which makes several elements of Device Neutrality legally enforceable. However, while the DMA represents a very important step in holding gatekeepers accountable for their negative disruptions and distortions in digital markets, the law alone is not enough to promote Device Neutrality to the extent necessary to re-empower end-user control over devices.

The Digital Markets Act: only a first step towards Device Neutrality

Initially, the enforcement of the DMA will be challenging, as the law addresses diverse aspects of devices including the (un)installation of software, the use of third-party apps stores and payment systems, interoperability obligations for operating systems and messaging apps, and some degree of real-time data portability. Imposing legal obligations on such elements will require considerable enforcement efforts and proper monitoring of the technical solutions implemented by the gatekeepers.

Besides, similarly to Router Freedom where network operators create various barriers and hurdles for end-users to exercise that right, gatekeepers may try hard to avoid implementing solutions that will fully benefit end-users, but rather may use the law in ways that can hinder end-users’ rights related to Device Neutrality. For instance, the tech company Apple – one of the gatekeepers – has already gone to court to avoid the DMA obligations, and decided to implement an absurd strategy against third-party apps stores (PDF) that will negatively impact the ability of alternatives such as F-Droid to enter iOS environments.

For these reasons, the FSFE will collaborate with the European Commission and other regulators to monitor compliance with the DMA, so that the DMA will act as a catalyst for Device Neutrality rather than an additional barrier to it.

“DMA represents a bold step from the EU to regulate large companies acting as gatekeepers over devices. However, proper implementation of the law will be challenging, and it will require strict monitoring from civil society to safeguard Device Neutrality. Open Internet needs Device Neutrality. Free Software is key to achieve that”.

-Lucas Lasota, FSFE’s Legal Programme Manager -

Going beyond very large platforms

The DMA is limited to big tech companies. The law only applies to enterprises providing services to at least 45 million monthly active end-users established or located in the EU on a yearly basis. Taking into account other quantitative restrictions, Device Neutrality is safeguarded by the law against only a handful of gatekeepers. Smaller companies may also engage in predatory behavior against Device Neutrality, negatively impacting end-users' rights. However, they are not covered by the DMA.

That’s why the FSFE is promoting Device Neutrality in a much broader context to include not only large companies but any device manufacturer, vendor, or platform. We strongly believe that software freedom should be the default standard and end-users should not be imprisoned into lock-ins. Tech companies should not trap users into walled gardens that limit what they can do with their devices.

Check the new webpage for Device Neutrality and help spread the word with our poster!

In parallel to its involvement with the DMA, the FSFE is launching a new website for Device Neutrality to raise public awareness of topics concerning Device Neutrality. This site points to in-depth insights about Device Neutrality and Free Software, downloadable promotional material, and ways to spread the word. Check it out!

Supporting the work on Device Neutrality

Higher degrees of openness and equality in digital markets can only be achieved when end-users can enjoy software freedom with their devices. The DMA is the first step, and the FSFE will continue to work for Device Neutrality in different areas: monitoring DMA implementation, overseeing compliance, collaborating with regulators and policy makers, promoting public awareness, and expanding the agenda beyond gatekeepers. For that, we count on your support for our work with a donation. Get active and help us empower you to regain control over your devices!

I want to donate for Device Neutrality!

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I love FS celebrations +++ FOSDEM 2024 +++ SFP episode

04. März 2024 um 23:00

I love FS celebrations +++ FOSDEM 2024 +++ SFP episode

Our March newsletter is here! Last month took us to FOSDEM, while ‘I Love Free Software Day’ was celebrated all over Europe. We also launched a new SFP episode on the state of Free Software and a discussion on banking and Software Freedom. Check out some interesting reading and event recommendations!

FOSDEM was a blast!

At the beginning of February, FSFE volunteers and staffers went back to Brussels to take part in FOSDEM 2024 with a booth and talks. While for some of us this has become an awesome yearly experience, it was the first time for others. We asked one of our interns to share his thoughts about his first time there, but we also collected the recordings of the talks and devrooms we were involved with.

Find out more!

Thanks to all who made I Love Free Software Day 2024 a great success!

Together with hundreds of people and several organisations, we have celebrated another “I Love Free Software Day” on 14 February! On this day, we reached out to Free Software contributors to say “Thank you!” To all who joined us this time: Thank you for participating in this 14th edition of the “I Love Free Software Day” ❤️❤️❤️!

Read the report!

SFP: The status of Free Software with Karen Sandler and Alexander Sander

Have there been any changes for Free Software in Europe or the USA in the last year? How is Free Software viewed by legislators? What can we do to Support Software Freedom? Karen Sandler and Alexander Sander are active in the Free Software movement and share their views on the current status of Free Software in our society.

Listen to it now!

Software Freedom in banking

Are you forced to use proprietary applications when dealing with your bank? What is the relationship between banking applications and Free Software? Our staff member Florian Snow has been researching this topic and found that banks are pushing the development and use of proprietary applications for two-factor authentification. In doing so, they are restricting users' freedom to choose a one-time password generator of their choice.

Read more and take part in the discussion on the mailing list and on the fediverse!

About Device Neutrality, the DMA, and software licensing

In recent years, the FSFE team has been working for Device Neutrality, promoting ways to re-empower users to control their devices by running Free Software on them. With the upcoming entrance into force of the latest EU legislation on this area – the Digital Markets Act – policy makers are interested in the strategies adopted by large tech corporations (gatekeepers) to comply with the DMA. The FSFE was contacted by the Headquarters for Digital Market Competition of Japan (HDMC) regarding Apple’s strategy to comply with the DMA and its impact on Free Software. Our staff prepared a study in collaboration with F-Droid. You can read the report here (PDF).

In regard to the DMA, we also recommend reading a paper that our Legal Programme Manager, Lucas Lasota, has published linking the DMA, Free Software, and freedom of terminal equipment. This study puts into perspective the role Free Software has in facilitating the process of achieving fairness and contestability of digital markets. As a case study, this article presents the recent regulatory developments involving routers and modems in the EU, and the interaction telecom operators’ monopolistic practices have with Free Software.

Last but not least, the FSFE has also provided an in-depth analysis of the compliance workflow adopted for the Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative. The study analyzes the compliance issues software projects may face during their implementation of Free Software licenses. This article concludes with the lessons learned from the experience gathered in the three years of implementation of the compliance workflow established for the NGI initiative, and especially notes how REUSE plays a game-changing role in this context.

Please share these publications to strengthen our efforts towards Software Freedom!

Join our next events!

For first time, we are participating in the Circonomia Festival in Fano (PU), Italy. There, we will be hosting, from 8 to 10 March, a workshop on decentralized and sustainable networks and Free Software, and a reading of the book “Ada & Zangemann” in Italian. You are welcome to join us any of the three days! Find out more in the event page.

A weekend later, on 16 and 17 March, you can meet as in the Chemnitzer Linux Days! One more year we are attending this long-standing event for education about Linux and Free Software. We will be present with an information booth, and on Saturday, the FSFE’s Policy Project Manager, Johannes Näder, will present Youth Hacking 4 Freedom, the Free Software competition for young people aged 14-18, currently in its third edition.

And if you are in Utrecht that Saturday, on 16 March, stop by at our info booth at the national Dutch Linux Users Group (NLLGG) meeting!

Remember that you can find all the information about our events at events.fsfe.org.

Take action: spread the word about FediGov!

FediGov is an initiative by the FSFE Swiss local group, together with GNU/Linux.ch, which aims to raise awareness among public institutions to use federated Free Software solutions to communicate with the public.

This campaign encourages individuals to ask their governments to adopt federated and decentralized communications by explaining to their local authorities the importance of sovereign communications in the public sector.

You can help by spreading the word at the local level, but also by contributing to the website with translations or improvements! Take action!

Quote of the month

I think the best thing about YH4F is that it promotes Free Software alternatives to people who haven’t had the chance to realize the benefits of such projects. I use Free Software pretty frequently, especially when it comes to operating systems.

Alexia, Youth Hacking 4 Freedom 2022 participant

Contribute to our Newsletter

We would love to hear from you. If you have any thoughts, pictures, or news to share, please send them to us at newsletter@fsfe.org. You can also support us, contribute to our work, and join our community. We would like to thank our community and all the volunteers, supporters, and donors who make our work possible, with a special mention to our translators who make it possible for you to read this newsletter in your mother tongue.

Your editors, Ana and Tommi

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FOSDEM 2024 was a blast!

29. Februar 2024 um 23:00

FOSDEM 2024 was a blast!

At the beginning of February, FSFE volunteers and staffers went back to Brussels to take part in FOSDEM 2024 with a booth and talks. While for some of us this has become an awesome yearly experience, it was the first time for others. Thanks to everyone who came to FOSDEM, visited our booth for a nice chat, and joined us during our social events!

Our team and volunteers at our FOSDEM 2024 booth!

For many members of our community, FOSDEM marks the beginning of the annual Free Software conferences. It is also one of the largest conferences on Software Freedom, so as a Free Software enthusiast it is one of the places to be.

While most of our staff and volunteers have marked the first weekend of February in their calendars for years, some FSFE members attended for the first time. We asked one of them, Tommi, a Free Software enthusiast and FSFE intern, about his first FOSDEM experience.

“When I was asked to go to FOSDEM, my answer was of course! So, a couple of weeks ago, I caught a train to Brussels and took part in the first FOSDEM of my life. It won’t be the last one.

It is hard to explain how incredible an experience it was to attend the conference. What struck me the most was to finally give a face and an identity to usernames contributing to Free Software. Up to FOSDEM, I personally met only a few people directly involved in the universe of open technologies that I have been following in the past few years. FOSDEM gave me the opportunity to finally have a face-to-face conversation with a lot of developers and members of the Free Software community, and I expressed my gratitude to them.

Both by standing at our booth and by wandering around, I could not help but feel surrounded by like-minded people who believe in the importance of Software Freedom, and more broadly in technology developed by the people for the people. I chatted face-to-face with developers and maintainers of projects whose existence literally changed my life, and all this happened in a self-organized and volunteer-led environment, making it even more interesting and captivating. Of course, there was also time to attend really interesting talks, and I had the chance to listen to my colleagues in front of an audience. It was also great to have the chance to meet a lot of FSFE volunteers and engage in interesting discussions with them during our social events.”

For this year, we had a booth at FOSDEM with promotion material and merchandising. Thanks to everyone who gave us a hand there!

If you missed FOSDEM or didn’t have time to attend all of our sessions, don’t worry! Have a look at the devrooms we co-organized this year and took part in, so that you can learn something new, deepen your knowledge, and improve your Free Software skills.

Legal and Policy issues Devroom CRA & PLD: Free Software in the European legislative landscape, the first of four parts of the EU policy devroom Codes Bound by Ethics: The Rising Tide of Non-Free Software Licenses in AI ecosystems Presenting Youth Hacking 4 Freedom, FSFE programming competition for European teenagers

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"I Love Free Software Day" 2024: Forging the future with Free Software

25. Februar 2024 um 23:00

"I Love Free Software Day" 2024: Forging the future with Free Software

Together with hundreds of people and several organisations, we have celebrated another "I Love Free Software Day" on 14 February! On this day, we reached out to Free Software contributors to say Thank you! To all who joined us this time: Thank you for participating in this 14th edition of the "I Love Free Software Day" ❤️❤️❤️!

The "I Love Free Software Day" 2024 focused on younger generations and how to introduce them into the Free Software community. Therefore, several of our local groups celebrated this day with a meeting focused on younger people. The rest just focused on the main "I Love Free Software Day" idea: to acknowledge the amazing Free Software community, thanking Free Software projects and sharing their love for Free Software. And while several FSFE local groups - in Italy, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, England, Germany, and Switzerland - got together and celebrated their love for software freedom in person, we were happy to see how other other members of the Free Software community joined our call and organised meetings, like the one in Portugal.

I Love Free Software Day celebrations 2024

For this year the FSFE planned a special gift for several organisations and long-term volunteers to get them ready for 'I Love Free Software' day. We gave them an acrylglas heart and an LED strip, plus a microcontroller and some jump wires. The challenge? To tinker around with these things and to upload a picture of the heart on 14 February. It turned out to be quite a challenge, but a lot of fun!

For the celebrations in 2024, over a hundred people came together in 13 local meetings organised by either FSFE local groups or other Free Software groups in seven different countries. The celebrations were as different as the groups. The local group in Aarhus, Denmark, organised a reading of the children's book "Ada & Zangemann", while the Portuguese organisation esop organised a translation of this book into Portuguese.

"'I Love Free Software Day' celebration in Zurich, Switzerland" "'I Love Free Software Day' celebration in Potteries, England" "'I Love Free Software Day' celebration in Bergamo, Italy"

There are many more thank you messages and blogposts out there highlighting the work of Free Software contributors. It is touching to see so many people, companies, and organisations joining us for this special day and reaching out to the people who work for software freedom. For a longer read we recommend the full "I Love Free Software Day: Forging the future" report.

Thank you for joining this year's “I Love Free Software” celebrations ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

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