Updates from the Free Software Foundation Europe

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My name is Shane Coughlan and and I work for Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organisation with offices in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Sweden. You may remember me from my last FSFE update on this blog on the Freedom Task Force, which is the FSFE's legal training project which I coordinate. Google's Open Source Team invited me to send an update about some of the cool stuff we are doing, so I'd like to start by giving you a little background about who we are and what we do.

The FSFE is one of four sister organisations, the other three being the Free Software Foundation (FSF) in the United States, the Free Software Foundation India and the Free Software Foundation Latin America. The FSFE works on European Union and United Nations software policy and we engage with issues like the European software patents debate. We also engage the community on these issues at many European software conferences. The Freedom Task Force focuses on providing education, training, consultancy and legal assistance in answering questions about Free Software licenses. On a day-to-day level this involves attending conferences and local meetings as well as dealing with incoming requests via email from both commercial and non-commercial community members.

One of our main activities during the last two years has been facilitation for the
European Legal Network. This is a group of Free Software legal and technical experts who share knowledge with the community. In the last year and a half we have scaled to cover nineteen European countries (a total of twenty-seven) and to have over one hundred and twenty members. During the month of September alone, we will have two physical meetings to discuss Free Software business processes and software patents. It's quite high level stuff, but we hope to provide participants insights into the resolution of long-term deployment questions and builds on the excellent work of organisations like

Other wonderful news comes from the recent the Akademy 2008 conference, where one of our long-term infrastructure projects came to fruition. KDE e.V. — the organisation representing the KDE project in legal and financial matters — voted to adopt the Fiduciary Licence Agreement (FLA) as an option for its project contributors. The FLA is a legal document that addresses the issue of copyright fragmentation by providing consolidation in common and civil legal systems, and acts as a tool to assist with re-licensing and license enforcement. It's a baby of the FSFE legal project, drafted some years ago for FSFE's own fiduciary programme, and is available for other organisations to adapt for their own use.

That brings me to our biggest news for this week. The FSFE has just announced that we are translating the Fiduciary License Agreement (FLA) into ten languages to provide copyright consolidation options to local projects across Europe. We're looking forward to providing tools to help people manage their code and we believe it's important to at least have reference documents in as many native languages as possible. Such tools are likely to become more important as Free Software grows, and FSFE is proud to make a contribution in this area. Kudos are also due to the kind folks at Google, who made a donation to support both our outreach and translation work earlier in the year.

If you would like to learn more about FSFE's work you can visit our website at You might also want to learn more about the legal project specifiically or information about contributing to our efforts. If you want to become part of the FSFE family you might also want to join the Fellowship.

Thanks for reading, Happy Hacking, and I'll see you at the next conference....