Current focus: wiki, mailing list, news, donate

Photo of me at FOSS Means Business, 2006-03-16

Helping FSFE's Fellowship:
How and Why

NOTE: I'm not involved in FSFE any more. I now work for End Software Patents. See the wiki, the news site, and make a donation. But I'll leave this page as-is because FSFE is still a great organisation.

See also: FSFE's Fellowship website, there you'll find the page where you can join the Fellowship.

Headings on this page:

  1. What does FSF Europe do?
    1. Global work: you don't have to be European to like FSFE...
    2. European: ...but we do take particular interest in Europe
  2. 10 reasons to support FSFE
  3. Suggested text for email to a technical mailing list
  4. Some stuff to help spread the word
  5. About the Crypto Card


What does FSF Europe do?

Global work: you don't have to be European to like FSFE...

FSF Europe works on world trade negotiations. There are two reasons. First, by chance, the FSFE team contains people who are particularly suited to this work. Second, most of the legislative threats that arrive in Europe start in global treaties.

The Software Patents Directive, the European Copyright Directive, and the two Directives on the Enforcement of "Intellectual Property Rights", were all proposed with justifications that included references about "to comply with our international obligations...". Usually they are referring to a treaty called TRIPS. TRIPS exists, we were too late to fix it, but FSFE is working to make sure the next agreement doesn't cause the harm that TRIPS is causing.

Usually, representatives of the world's biggest companies get together and tell the world's governments "it's not safe for us to trade internationally unless everyone has similar laws which protect our intellectual property rights, and everyone commits to enforcing them". The public has virtually no input into such negotiations (the public doesn't even know they're happening), so the process is tailored to give the exact results that the wealthy industry owners want. FSF Europe has been ruining their party.

European: ...but FSFE does take particular interest in Europe

FSF Europe works against software patents. As well as having a full-time representative in Brussels (me), FSFE do press work and inter-organisation coordination.

They help others to set up national software freedom initiatives (like Irish Free Software Organisation). When they travel to give talks, they stay for a few days in the country to help bring supporters together. And with this fellowship program they're creating a community website for free software supporters, with blogs, email addresses, etc.

Members of the FSFE team host booths in various conferences, speak at free-software-related events, and provide information to journalists, politicians, and members of the community by email and by phone.


10 reasons to support FSFE

Here's a Top 10 Countdown:


Suggested text for email to a technical mailing list

Subject: A call for support for FSF Europe's work

FSF Europe have launched a "fellowship" program:

For 120 euro per year, you get a personalised OpenPGP compliant cryptocard[0],
an login with homepage, blog, email alias, etc, but the
real reason to join is that the FSFE needs support from you to expand its work
protecting the freedom to write and use free software.

As well as helping to build a network of national free software
initiatives[1], such as Irish Free Software Organisation, FSF Europe has
been working at world trade agreement level to stop the creation of legal
impediments to writing and adopting free software.

Normally it's only the big software owners and last century's monopolies that
participate in world trade agreements.  This puts the dinosaurs in charge of
evolution, and they don't like Free Software.

The EU software patents directive and the European Copyright Directive were
initiated to bring the EU into compliance with a 1995 world trade agreement
(TRIPs).  While associate organisations of FSFE (such as FFII and IFSO) have
been working on these directives, FSF Europe has been working to prevent the
next round of trade talks from spawning another wave of bad law.

Their work often gets no media spotlight, and little community attention,
but no one else is doing this work, so they do it.

Since their founding in 2001, FSF Europe has built up media relations, a team
of volunteer and semi-volunteer legal experts, and has assisted the setup of
national Free Software initiatives (such as IFSO).  Now they want to grow to
the next level.  In particular they want to take a more active role against
software idea patents and other EU legislation, and increase their world trade
agreement work.

120 euro a year is less than the price of 3 pints a month, and most of us
have saved 100's or 1000's of euros in licensing fees thanks to
free-as-in-freedom software.

They rely on the support of the very small portion of society that knows
that these issues need work (you), so please consider getting out your
wallet and letting them know they don't stand alone.


[0] See:

    There are also initiatives, like IFSO, that have been set up but
    have not yet gone through the process of becoming official


Some stuff to help spread the word

See also: The Fellowship advocacy project.

And the Fun section has Fellowship-themed artwork such as desktop/presentation backgrounds, buttons, etc.

Here are some buttons and banners I made:

Or if you want a text "banner"

This is not well tested, but you should be able to stick this block of html into a web page:

<p style="{text-align: center; font-size: large; color: white; font-weight:
	bold; background-color: #8cc742; border: 25px solid #8cc742; width;
	300px; margin: 50px;}"><a style="{color: white; font-weight: bold;
	text-decoration: underline;} :hover {color: white; font-weight: bold;
	background-color: #8cc742; text-decoration: underline;}" href="">FSF Europe</a>
  have launched a "Fellowship" program.  It's €120 per year.
  Please sign up at <a style="{color: white; font-weight: bold;
	text-decoration: underline;} :hover {color: white; font-weight: bold;
	background-color: #8cc742; text-decoration: underline;}" href="">their
  fellowship website</a>.</p>

Here's the result, but there's a glitch. The style is not applying to the links for some reason, my use of the curly-brace syntax used to work and now it doesn't:

FSF Europe have launched a "Fellowship" program. It's €120 per year. Please sign up at their fellowship website.

And if you want to stick in a link to this page, you could add the following before the end closing </p> in the above.

  You may also want to read an FSFE supporter's page: <a style="{color:
white; font-weight: bold; text-decoration: underline;} :hover {color: white;
font-weight: bold; background-color: #8cc742; text-decoration: underline;}"
href="">Why and how to help
FSF Europe's Fellowship program</a>.  

...or whatever you think is best.


About the Crypto Card

See also: the Fellowship page about the crypto card - if I say something that contradicts that page, it's most likely that I'm wrong.

I didn't appreciate the Crypto Card at first - it seemed like a toy for techies - but I actually think it's pretty cool now. I have a techie background, but these days politics has displaced my time for software tinkering. I wasn't even a GnuPG user (it was on my todo list for years though).

You can put your GnuPG data on your Crypto Card and make use of GnuPG via the card. That way you can use GnuPG without your encryption data being accessible to your computer or any other computer.

(Go: homepage of Ciarán O'Riordan)

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I made these buttons, except the first one. Please copy, improve, and redistribute them!

Copyright 2005 Ciaran O'Riordan. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.