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Free Software Foundation Europe


Free Software Foundation Europe

Free Software Foundation Europe
Abbreviation FSFE
Motto Free Software, Free Society
Formation March 10, 2001
Type Charitable organization
Headquarters Berlin
Region served Europe
President Karsten Gerloff
Vice-President Matthias Kirschner
Founding-President Georg Greve
Former Vice-Presidents Henrik Sandklef, Fernanda Weiden, Jonas Öberg, Loïc Dachary
Main organ Core Team
Affiliations FSF* network
Budget ca. €370,000
Formerly called FSF Europe

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) was founded in 2001 to support all aspects of the U.S.-based Free Software Foundation (FSF). FSF and FSFE are financially and legally separate entities.

FSFE believes that access to and control of software determines who may participate in a digital society. Therefore, the freedoms to use, copy, modify and redistribute software, as described in The Free Software Definition, are necessary for equal participation in the Information Age.[2]


  • Goals 1
  • Example projects 2
  • Structure 3
    • Legal structure 3.1
    • Awards 3.2
  • See also 4
  • External links 5
  • References 6


The focus of FSFE's work is political, legal, and social with the aim of promoting Free Software and the ethical, philosophical, social, political and commercial values that it implements.[3] In particular, it

  • is actively promoting Free Software politically as Europe-based global competence center in dialog with politicians and press.
  • follows and seeks to influence legal and political activities that are contrary to the goals and values of Free Software.
  • provides a contact point and orientational help on all issues regarding Free Software.
  • works closely together with lawyers active in the Free Software area in Universities and practices in order to follow and influence the legal discourse. Also it cooperates with lawyers throughout Europe to maximize the legal security of Free Software.
  • supports, coordinates and develops projects in the Free Software area, especially the GNU Project. It also provides computer resources to Free Software developers to enable them to continue their developments.
  • helps companies to develop business models based on Free Software or fit existing models to it; it encourages companies in their evolution to Free Software. To make it easier for companies based on Free Software to be commercially successful, the FSF Europe also seeks to broaden the market for Free Software.
  • helps coordinating and networking other initiatives in the Free Software area.

Example projects

FSFE representatives at the OpenRheinRuhr, Bottrop (Germany)
Software patents in Europe
According to the FSFE, software patents for Europe are currently being pushed forward actively by a lobby gathering around the European patent office and the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represents the interests of the largest U.S. companies. Software patents are considered by the FSFE to be a menace to society and economy and FSF Europe is actively involved in the resistance to such plans.[4]
European Union v. Microsoft
In 2001 the European Union, through the DG Competition of the European Commission (led by Prof. Mario Monti), started investigating Microsoft's dominant position in the desktop operating systems. The Free Software Foundation Europe was invited by the EC to represent the stance of the Free Software movement. In 2004 FSFE was admitted as an intervening third party in the appeal against the Decision of the Commission and, also representing the Samba Team, was one of the only two interveners to remain active in the proceedings from start to end. It provided strong evidence in court thanks to the effort volunteers like Andrew Tridgell, Jeremy Allison, Volker Lendeke and their lawyer, Carlo Piana. The case is now considered one of the leading cases in European antitrust.[5]
World Intellectual Property Organization
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of 16 specialized agencies of the [6]
Freedom Task Force
The legal project of FSFE. "The Freedom Task Force is a legal infrastructure project that helps individuals, projects and businesses understand Free Software and the opportunities that it presents. The FTF is primarily focused on Free Software licensing issues and managing FSFE's legal affairs. Our goal is to educate people in the proper use of Free Software."[7]

Each month, FSFE publish a newsletter, in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, of their activities that can be mentioned in public.[8]


From FSFE's published "Self-Conception":

    "The people of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), see ourselves as Europeans
     from different cultures with the shared goal of co-operation  across cultures and of
     developing a common culture of co-operation from a regional to a global level.
     We form a non-profit non-governmental organisation and network that itself is part of
     a global network of people with common goals and visions. We are not representative for
     anyone but ourselves and our work. Our common work and dedication to freedom in all
     aspects of digital society is what defines us."

Internally, the FSFE has a consensus-oriented, team structure in which participation is determined by each persons willingness to participate and do work. A democratic and representative-democratic model functions as a fallback for when the consensus-based approach either reaps no results or a quick decision is needed.

Legal structure

The FSFE has a modular legal structure with a central "Hub" organisation and the possibility of local legal bodies, called "Chapters". The Hub is a charitable association ("e.V.") which is, by happenstance, registered in Germany.

As well as being in regular contact with the other FSFs (

  1. ^ "FSFE's legal structure". Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  2. ^ "FSFE's commitment to software freedom". Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  3. ^ "About Free Software Foundation Europe". Retrieved 2014-07-19. 
  4. ^ "FSFE - Software Patents in Europe". Retrieved 2014-07-19. 
  5. ^ "FSFE and the antitrust case against Microsoft". Retrieved 2014-07-19. 
  6. ^ "FSFE - Observing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)". Retrieved 2014-07-19. 
  7. ^ "FSFE Legal - The Freedom Task Force". Retrieved 2014-07-19. 
  8. ^ "FSFE Newsletter". 
  9. ^ "FSFE's Self-Conception". 
  10. ^ "Associate Organisations - FSFE". Retrieved 2014-07-19. 
  11. ^ "Free Software Foundation Europe receives Theodor Heuss Medal". 


  • Free Software Foundation Europe
  • Self-Conception of the FSF Europe
  • The FSFE Fellowship
  • Current work of FSFE
  • The current FSF Europe team
  • Associate Organisations of the FSF Europe
  • Open Parliament - petition to use Open Standards in EU
  • Slashdot news coverage:
    • World Intellectual Wealth Organisation Proposed, October 2004
    • FSFE becomes WIPO observer, November 2004
    • Video and Transcripts of GPLv3 Event Now Online, July 2006
    • EU Patent Wars to Resume, August 2006
    • Transcripts of GPLv3 talks from Tokyo, November 2006
    • FSFE Supports Microsoft Antitrust Investigation, December 2007
    • Tasks of a Free Software Legal Department, October 2008
    • FSFE Launches Free PDF Readers Campaign, February 2009
    • Steve Jobs Hints at Theora Lawsuit, April 2010

External links

See also

In 2010 FSFE received the Theodor Heuss Medal in recognition of its work for freedom in the information society. The medal is awarded once a year in Stuttgart by a non-partisan foundation named after West Germany's first president.[11]


These are mostly national-level free software groups. [10]

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