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Free Software Foundation Europe
Type charitable association
Founded March 10, 2001
Headquarters Germany

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE, or FSF Europe) was founded in 2001 as an official European sister organization of the U.S.-based Free Software Foundation (FSF) to take care of all aspects of free software in Europe. 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.



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.[1] 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 maximise 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.[2]
European Union v. Microsoft 
In 2001 the European Union, through the DG Competition of the European Commission (lead 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 participated in an appeal to defend again free competition and freedom of choice against abuses.[3]
World Intellectual Property Organization 
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of 16 specialized agencies of the United Nations system of organisations. Its role is to administer 23 international treaties dealing with different aspects of limited monopolies on knowledge. As an observer to WIPO and together with a global coalition of other players with similar goals, FSFE is working towards reshaping it as a "World Intellectual Wealth Organisation."[4]
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."[5]

Each month, FSFE publish a newsletter, in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, of their activities that can be mentioned in public.[1]


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." [2]

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.

Associate organisations

As well as being in regular contact with the other FSFs (FSF, FSFI, FSFLA), FSFE has a structure of organisations which are "official associates". These are mostly national-level free software groups.

Associate organisations are independent of the FSF Europe and entirely autonomous. They are completely self-run and -managed in all aspects (such as membership, statutes, finances and so on).

Being associate means being formally allied and having immediate access to the FSF Europe. So associates are usually involved in the internal communication and consideration process. They also work together for campaigns and events such as tradeshows.

Associate organisations are[6]:

Association For Free Software (AFFS) 
A membership organisation which promotes and defends Free Software in the UK.
Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL) 
A Portuguese non-profit association dedicated to the promotion, development, research and study of Computing Freedom and its social, political philosophical, cultural, technical and scientific implications.
Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)
A non-profit association under German law that promotes a sustainable development of public information goods based on copyright, free competition and open standards.
Verein zur Förderung Freier Informationen und Software e.V. 
The ffis e.V. is a German non-profit association of Free Software enthusiasts that supports the development and establishment of free information and Free Software with various events and projects.
Free Software Initiative of Japan 
A Japanese non-profit association to further Free Software.
Organisation for Free Software in Education and Teaching (OFSET) 
a not for profit French international association under the law of 1901. It has been set up in response to the slow development of free educational software for the GNU system. It will promote all possible forms of development and localisations needed by the world wide education system.
Fundación Vía Libre 
Argentinian Foundation for Free Software
Wilhelm Tux 
Campaign for Free Software. Swiss non-profit for Free Software.
Irish Free Software Organisation[7] 
Founded by Free Software supporters working on the EU Software Patents directive, IFSO's aim is to promote Free Software in Ireland, and to fight against laws that would harm Free Software - both from the Irish government and from the European Union.
Free Software Network Serbia 
Free software organization from Serbia.

People behind FSFE

These people are working for and with the FSF Europe on a regular basis, so they have been given permanent responsibilities and authorities for certain areas. Some of them are members of the association, some are not. Up do date list is on FSFE's about the team page:

  • Alex Antener : Swiss team
  • Gareth Bowker : UK member of the association
  • Shane M. Coughlan: Senior Advisor to the Freedom Task Force (weblog)
  • Volker Dormeyer : German team - Tradeshows & Events
  • Alexander Finkenberger : German team
  • Karsten Gerloff : President
  • Georg C. F. Greve : Founding President (homepage, blog /RSS)
  • Christian Holz : Executive Director
  • Michael Kallas : German team, booth
  • Rainer Kersten : German office
  • Matthias Kirschner : German Chancellor, Fellowship Coordinator (blog, homepage)
  • Mathias Klang: Sweden (blog)
  • Werner Koch : German member of the association
  • Pablo Machón : Spanish team
  • Marko Milenovic: Serbia
  • Reinhard Müller : Austrian Team, member of the association
  • Jonas Öberg - Team member (homepage, blog)
  • Patrick Ohnewein : Italian team
  • Giacomo Poderi : Italian team
  • Xavier Reina : Spanish team
  • Bernhard Reiter : German Vice-Chancellor
  • Marcus Rejås: Sweden (blog)
  • Cristian Rigamonti : Italian team - Webmaster and translator English-to-Italian
  • Henrik Sandklef : Swedish member of the association (blog)
  • Björn Schießle: Germany
  • Myriam Schweingruber : Switzerland
  • Fred Thiele : Germany, translations
  • Fabrizio Veutro : Italy
  • Ivan Jelic : Serbian team
  • Recai Oktaş : Turkish team
  • Fernanda G. Weiden : Vice President

See also

External links



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