CeBIT Open Source Project Lounge -- Free Software Foundation Europe

FSFE -- the European Division For the Freedom of Software


The Free Software Foundation Europe is among the 15 projects that will present their work at CeBIT, the European division working for the freedom of software.

In a nutshell: How would you describe your project in one or two sentences?

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a common-usage, politically independent organization committed to all aspects of free software in Europe. Access to software is open to any participant. We therefore provide opportunities in the Digital Age based on the freedom to use, copy, modify and distribute software inherent in the term "free software." To nudge this concept into the collective consciousness and promote world freedom by supporting development of free software is the core mission of the FSFE, which was founded as a sister organization to the U.S. FSF in 2001.

When did the project begin?

March 10, 2001.

How many active members does the project have?

About 45 active European core team and national team members, about 850 Fellows that assist partly in activities through their fellowship arrangements, and about 100 volunteers.

How did the project come into being?

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) was founded in 2001 as a sister organization to the U.S. Free Software Foundation (FSF) to address free software interests in Europe. This step was based on a few factors, which we included on our "Why do we exist?" webpage.

Why should a CeBIT visitor come to your booth?

We inform visitors about the societal, political and economic aspects of free software and are available to answer all technical questions about licensing. We also inform visitors about our Fellowship program that gives everyone an excellent opportunity to participate in the work FSFE is doing. We even demonstrate use of the OpenPGP Smartcard used in the Fellowship program to encrypt and sign files and e-mails.

Who do you make your software for?

Free software provides a groundwork for democratic societies and therefore serves the world community.

Where do you see your biggest current challenge?

To make the concept of free software understandable to all and prepare everyone to participate. We are working continually on this. An example is our "Free" campaign. We are trying to stress the importance of open standards and development of a PDF reader based on free software.

Which licensing scheme would you suggest to an enterprise looking to you for advice about a homegrown product?

We stand aside when it comes to recommending licensing, which must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Therefore a specific, concrete licensing recommendation is not always possible.

Project website:

During CeBIT the Free Software Foundation Europe will give two talks: Georg Greve, FSFE president, will hold a keynote titled "To dare more freedom" on Tuesday, March 3. Shane Coughlan, Freedom Task Force, will give a talk on Thursday, March 5, titled "The strategic implementation of Free Software in business".

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    This column looks into projects and current affairs in the world of free software from the perspective of the GNU Project and the FSF. In this issue, we take a look behind the drapes at the FSFE Annual General Meeting.

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