Free Software Foundation


Free Software Foundation

infobox organization



image_border =
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msize =
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abbreviation = FSF
motto = Free Software, Free Society
formation = 1985-10-04
extinction = n/a
type = NGO and Non profit organization
status = Foundation
purpose = Educational
headquarters = Boston, MA
location =
region_served = Worldwide
membership = Private individuals and corporate patrons
language =
leader_title = President
leader_name = Richard Stallman
main_organ =
parent organization =
affiliations = Software Freedom Law Center
num_staff = 12
num_volunteers =
budget =
website = [http://www.fsf.org http://www.fsf.org/]
remarks =

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a non-profit corporation founded by Richard Stallman on 4 October 1985 to support the free software movement, a copyleft-based movement which aims to promote the universal freedom to distribute and modify computer software without restriction. The FSF is incorporated in Massachusetts, United States of America.

From its founding until the mid-1990s, FSF's funds were mostly used to employ software developers to write free software for the GNU Project. Since the mid-1990s, the FSF's employees and volunteers have mostly worked on legal and structural issues for the free software movement and the free software community.

Being consistent with its goals, only free software is used on all of the FSF's computers. [cite web | url = http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/linux-gnu-freedom.html | title = Linux, GNU, and freedom | accessdate = 2006-12-10 | author = Stallman, Richard M. | authorlink = Richard Stallman | year = 2002 | work = Philosophy of the GNU Project | format= HTML | publisher = GNU Project ]

GPL enforcement

The FSF holds the copyrights on various essential pieces of the GNU system, such as GNU Compiler Collection. As copyright holder, it has exclusive authority to enforce the GNU General Public License (GPL) when copyright infringement occurs on that software. While other copyright holders of other software systems adopted the GPL as their license, FSF was the only organization to regularly assert its copyright interests on software so licensed until Harald Welte launched gpl-violations.org in 2004.

From 1991 until 2001, GPL enforcement was done informally, usually by Stallman himself, often with assistance with FSF's lawyer, Eben Moglen. Typically, GPL violations during this time were cleared up by short email exchanges between Stallman and the violator.

In late 2001, Bradley M. Kuhn (then Executive Director), with the assistance of Moglen, David Turner, and Peter T. Brown, formalized these efforts into FSF's GPL Compliance Labs. From 2002-2004, high profile GPL enforcement cases, such as those against Linksys and OpenTV, became frequent. [cite web | last = Meeker | first = Heather | title = The Legend of Linksys | date= 2005-06-28 | url = http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/qECCd2x743n32T/The-Legend-of-Linksys.xhtml | accessdate = 2007-08-11] [cite web | last = Gillmor | first = Dan | title = GPL Legal Battle Coming? | publisher = SiliconValley.com (a division of the San Jose Mercury News) | date= 2003-05-21 | url = http://web.archive.org/web/20030524174013/http://weblog.siliconvalley.com/column/dangillmor/archives/001029.shtml | accessdate = 2007-08-11] [cite web | last = Turner | first = David | coauthors = Bradley M. Kuhn | title = Linksys/Cisco GPL Violations | date= 2003-09-29 | publisher = LWN.net | url = http://lwn.net/Articles/51570/ | accessdate = 2007-08-11] GPL enforcement and educational campaigns on GPL compliance was a major focus of the FSF's efforts during this period. [cite web | last = Kennedy | first = Dennis | date= 2004-01-11 | title = A Great Learning Opportunity for Software Lawyers - Upcoming GPL Seminar | url = http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/2004/01/a_great_learning_opportunity_f.html | accessdate = 2007-08-11] [cite web | url= http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/07/18/1835252 | publisher= Slashdot | last = Lord | first = Timothy | date= 2003-07-18 | accessdate = 2007-08-11 | title = Seminar On Details Of The GPL And Related Licenses]

SCO lawsuit

In March 2003, SCO filed suit against IBM alleging thatIBM's contributions to various free software, including FSF's GNU,violated SCO's rights. While FSF was never a party to the lawsuit, FSFwas subpoenaed on November 5, 2003. [cite web
last = Heise
first = Mark
title = SCO Subpoena of FSF
publisher = Free Software Foundation
date= 2003-11-05
url = http://www.fsf.org/licensing/sco/sco-subpoena.pdf
format = PDF
accessdate = 2007-08-11
] During 2003 and 2004, FSF put substantial advocacy effort intoresponding to the lawsuit and quelling its negative impact on the adoption and promotion of free software. [cite web
last = Kuhn
first = Bradley
authorlink = Bradley M. Kuhn
title = The SCO Subpoena of FSF
publisher = Free Software Foundation
date= 2004-05-18
url = http://www.fsf.org/licensing/sco/subpoena.html
accessdate = 2007-08-11
] [cite web
author = Free Software Foundation
authorlink = Free Software Foundation
title = FSF To Host Free Software Licensing Seminars and Discussions on SCO v. IBM in New York
publisher = Free Software Foundation
date= 2004-01-02
url = http://www.gnu.org/press/2004-01-02-nyc-seminars.html
accessdate = 2008-07-04
]

Legal seminars

From 2003-2005, FSF held legal seminars to explain the GPL and the law around it. [cite web | title = Seminar On Details Of The GPL And Related Licenses | url = http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/07/18/1835252accessdate = 2008-07-04 | date = 2003-07-18] Usually taught by Bradley M. Kuhn and Daniel Ravicher, these seminars offered CLE credit and were the first effort to give formal legal education on the GPL. [FSF Bulletin 3 notes that a seminar led by Kuhn and Ravicher occurred on 2003-08-08cite web
author = Free Software Foundation
authorlink = Free Software Foundation
title = FSF Bulletin - Issue No.2 - June 2003
publisher = Free Software Foundation
date= 2003-06
url = http://www.gnu.org/bulletins/bulletin-002.html
accessdate = 2008-07-04
] [An FSF press release again notes Kuhn and Ravicher to teach the seminars in January 2004.cite web
author = Free Software Foundation
authorlink = Free Software Foundation
title = FSF To Host Free Software Licensing Seminars and Discussions on SCO v. IBM in New York
publisher = Free Software Foundation
date= 2004-01-02
url = http://www.gnu.org/press/2004-01-02-nyc-seminars.html
accessdate = 2008-07-04
] [cite web
author = John Sullivan
authorlink = William John Sullivan
title = FSF Seminar in NYC on September 28
publisher = Free Software Foundation
date= 2005-08-25
url = http://www.mail-archive.com/info-fsf@gnu.org/msg00002.html
accessdate = 2008-07-04
]

Current and ongoing activities

; The GNU project: The original purpose of the FSF was to promote the ideals of free software. The organization developed the GNU operating system as an example of this. ; GNU licenses: The GNU General Public License (GPL) is a widely used license for free software projects. The current version (version 3) was released in June 2007. The FSF has also published the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), and the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL). ; GNU Press: The FSF's publishing department, responsible for "publishing affordable books on computer science using freely distributable licenses." ; The Free Software Directory : This is a listing of software packages which have been verified as free software. Each package entry contains 47 pieces of information such as the project's homepage, developers, programming language, etc. The goals are to provide a search engine for free software, and to provide a cross-reference for users to check if a package has been verified as being free software. FSF has received a small amount of funding from UNESCO for this project. It is hoped that the directory can be translated into many languages in the future. ; Maintaining the Free Software Definition : FSF maintains many of the documents that define the free software movement. ; Project Hosting: FSF hosts software development projects on their Savannah website. ; Political campaigns : FSF sponsors a number of campaigns against what it perceives as dangers to software freedom, including software patents, digital rights management (which the FSF has re-termed "digital restrictions management", as part of their effort to highlight their view that such technologies are "designed to take away and limit your rights," [cite web
url=http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/drm.html
title=Digital Restrictions Management and Treacherous Computing
date=September 18, 2006
accessdate=2007-12-17
publisher=Free Software Foundation
] ) and user interface copyright. Defective by Design is an FSF-initiated campaign against DRM. They also have a campaign to promote Ogg+Vorbis, a free alternative to proprietary formats like MP3 and AAC. They sponsor also some free software projects that are deemed to be "high-priority". ; Annual awards: "Award for the Advancement of Free Software" and "Free Software Award for Projects of Social Benefit"

High priority projects

The FSF maintains a list of "high priority projects" to which the Foundation claims that "there is a vital need to draw the free software community's attention". [cite web
url=http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/priority.html
title=High Priority Free Software Projects
] The FSF considers these projects "important because computer users are continually being seduced into using non-free software, because there is no adequate free replacement."

Previous projects highlighted as needing work included the Free Java implementations GNU Classpath and GNU Compiler for Java, ensuring compatibility for the Java part of OpenOffice.org, (see ), and the GNOME desktop environment.

Recognition

*1999: Linus Torvalds Award for Open Source Computing [cite web
url = http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2002/janfeb/showcase/motionpictures.html
title= What I Saw at the Revolution
accessdate = 2006-12-10
author = Marsh, Ann
year = 2002
month= Jan/Feb
work = Stanford Magazine
format= HTML
publisher = Stanford Alumni Association
]
*2005: Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction in the category of "Digital Communities" [cite web
url = http://www.aec.at/en/archives/prix_archive/prix_projekt.asp?iProjectID=13406
title = Digital Communities, Distinction, Free Software Foundation
accessdate = 2006-12-10
author = Ars Electronica Center
authorlink = Ars Electronica Center
year = 2005
work = Prix Ars Electronica
format= HTML
publisher = Ars Electronica Center
] [cite web
url = http://www.fsf.org/news/digital-communities.html
title = FSF honored with Prix Ars Electronica award
accessdate = 2006-12-10
author = Free Software Foundation
year = 2005
work = News Releases
publisher = Free Software Foundation
]

Structure

The FSF's board of directors is:

* Hal Abelson, Founding member,The first GNU's Bulletin (cite web
authorlink = Free Software Foundation
title = GNU'S Bulletin, Volume 1, No.1
publisher = Free Software Foundation
month= February | year= 1986
url = http://www.gnu.org/bulletins/bull1.txt
accessdate = 2007-08-11
), indicates this list of people as"round [ing] out FSF's board of directors".] Professor of Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (served from inception until March 5, 1998, and rejoined circa 2005)
* Geoffery Knauth, Senior Software Engineer at SFA, Inc. (served since October 23, 1997)
* Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford University (served since March 28, 2004)
* Henry Poole, Founder of CivicActions, a grassroots campaign technology consulting firm. (served since December 12, 2002)
* Richard Stallman, Founding President, launched the GNU project, author of the GNU General Public License (served as President since inception)
* Gerald Jay Sussman, Professor of Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (served since inception)
* Benjamin Mako Hill, graduate student at the MIT Media Lab. (served since July 25, 2007)

Previous board members include:

* Robert J. Chassell, Founding Treasurer, as well as a Founding Director (served from inception until June 3, 1997)
* Len Tower Jr., Founding member, served until September 2, 1997
* Miguel de Icaza (served from August 1999 [The FSF annual filings with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for 1998 and 1999 show that De Icaza was not on the board on 1998-11-01 and was as of1999-11-01, so he clearly joined sometime between those dates. Those documents further indicate that the 1999 Annual meeting occurred in August; usually, new directors are elected at annual meetings.] until February 25, 2002. [The FSF annual filings with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for 2002 (cite web
authorlink = http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cor/coridx.htm
title = 2002 Annual Report for Free Software Foundation, Inc.
publisher = The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
date= 2002-12-17
url = http://corp.sec.state.ma.us/corp/corpsearch/display_pdf.asp?CORP_DRIVE1/2002/1217/000000000/9152/200228079130_1.pdf
format = PDF
accessdate = 2007-08-11
) show that De Icaza has left the board. Changes to board composition are usually made at the annual meeting; which occurred on February 25, 2002.
] )
* Eben Moglen (served from July 28, 2000 [The FSF annual filings with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for 1999 and 2000 show that Moglen was not on the board on 1999-11-01 and was as of2000-11-01, so he clearly joined sometime between those dates. Those documents further indicate that the 2000 Annual meeting occurred in July 28, 2000; usually, new directors are elected at annual meetings.] until 2007 [Moglen announced his intention to resign in his blog (cite web
last = Moglen
first = Eben
authorlink = Eben Moglen
title = And Now ... Life After GPLv3
date= 2007-04-23
url = http://moglen.law.columbia.edu/blog/organizations/SFLC/Transition.html
accessdate = 2007-08-11
). The resignation likely occurred at the 2007 annual meeting of the directors; the exact date of that meeting is unknown.
] )

The FSF Board of Directors is elected by the Voting Membership, whose powers include at least this are outlined in the by-laws: [cite web
authorlink = http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cor/coridx.htm
title = Articles of Amendment
publisher = The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
date= 2002-12-18
url = http://corp.sec.state.ma.us/corp/corpsearch/display_pdf.asp?CORP_DRIVE1/2002/1218/000000000/9228/200228190510_1.pdf
format = PDF
accessdate = 2008-07-04
] quote|In addition to the right to elect Directors as provided in the by-laws and such other powers and rights as may be vested in them by law, these Articles of Organization or the by-laws, the Voting Members shall have such other powers and rights as the Directors may designate.|Articles of Amendment|Free Sofware Foundation, Inc.

There are currently no known documents available that indicate the composition of the FSF's Voting Membership.

Some of the Free Software Foundation staff, both current and past, are unpaid volunteers. At any given time, there are usually around a dozen employees.Fact|date=July 2007 Most, but not all, work at the FSF headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. [cite web
authorlink = http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cor/coridx.htm
title = Certificate of Change of Principal Office
publisher = The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
date= 2005-05-26
url = http://corp.sec.state.ma.us/corp/corpsearch/display_pdf.asp?CORP_DRIVE1/2005/0526/000000000/4122/200516698270_1.pdf
format = PDF
accessdate = 2008-07-04
]

Eben Moglen and Dan Ravicher previously served individually as pro bono legal counsel to the FSF. Since the forming of the Software Freedom Law Center, legal services to the FSF are provided by that organization.

On November 25, 2002 the FSF launched the FSF Associate Membership program for individuals. [The site member.fsf.org first appears in the Internet Archive in December 2002, and that site lists the date of the launch as 25 November 2002. cite web | title = FSF Membership Page, as of 2002-12-20 | publisher = The Internet Archive | date= 2002-12-20 | url = http://web.archive.org/web/20021220112452/http://member.fsf.org/ | accessdate = 2007-08-11 ] Bradley M. Kuhn (FSF Executive Director, 2001-2005) launched the program and also signed up as the first Associate Member [Kuhn has an FSF-generated member link that identifies him as the first member on his web page. cite web | title = Homepage of Bradley M. Kuhn | publisher = Bradley M. Kuhn | date= 2008-01-05 | url = http://www.ebb.org/bkuhn | accessdate = 2008-01-05 ]

Associate members hold a purely honorary and funding support role to the FSF. [cite web | authorlink = http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cor/coridx.htm | title = Articles of Amendment | publisher = The Commonwealth of Massachusetts | date= 2002-12-18 | url = http://corp.sec.state.ma.us/corp/corpsearch/display_pdf.asp?CORP_DRIVE1/2002/1218/000000000/9228/200228190510_1.pdf | format = PDF | accessdate = 2008-07-04 ]

Sister organizations

* Free Software Foundation Europe, founded in 2001.
* Free Software Foundation India, founded in 2003.
* Free Software Foundation Latin America, founded in 2005.

References

See also

* Electronic Frontier Foundation
* Software Freedom Law Center
* BadVista
* Defective by Design

External links

* [http://www.fsf.org Free Software Foundation]


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