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11 March 2011, 15:44

Ten years of the Free Software Foundation Europe

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Free Software Foundation Europe Founded in 2001, the Free Software Foundation Europe is the European sister organisation to the Free Software Foundation in the United States, and today, it celebrates its tenth anniversary. In 2000, physicist Georg Greve saw the need for a European organisation to help Europe's open source and free software developers in struggling with EU specific policy and the consequences of EU law for free software. The organisation sees itself not as a smaller European partner for the Richard Stallman-founded FSF in the US, but as an autonomous organisation culturally rooted in Europe that takes into account the complexities and differences in the conditions of the continent.

The focus of the FSFE's work is in the legal and political framework for free software and it has, for example, been actively involved at the United Nations discussions of intellectual property law with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). At the EU level the FSFE lobbies to create a positive environment for free software, campaigns for open standards and interoperability, fighting for competition and against monopolies. It also campaigns for the use of free software in schools and universities. In 2006, the FSFE created the Freedom Task Force which gathers and shares knowledge about the legal and licensing aspects of free software, working with other organisations such as, in explaining the nature of the GPL.

The FSF also campaigns for open document formats and open standards through events such as Document Freedom Day, against Digital Rights Management with and for government promotion of free PDF readers. Georg Greve received the German Medal of Honour for his contributions to open standards and free software in 2010. Greve stepped down from the FSFE Presidency in 2009 and Karsten Gerloff was elected to take over the leadership role. Gerloff said of the ten years of the FSFE, "We have come a long way, and we're immensely proud of what we have achieved together, yet there is so much more work to do", and encouraged those interested in supporting Free Software to donate to, assist or join the FSFE.


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