The threat of software patents persists

At the Free Software Foundation (FSF) we have reported extensively on many issues concerning user freedom. In this article, we will reintroduce a problem that has plagued the free software community for many years: the problem of software patents. In the past, we had several successful campaigns against them, and people have mistakenly assumed that the threat has gone away. It has not. Patents have steadily been dominating the software sector, and the situation is bound to get worse.

Before we delve into the complexities of this issue, it’s important to know the basics: a patent is a legal tool that gives its owner the right to prevent others from using an invention in any way for a limited period of years. A software patent is a patent that applies to software.

What follows will answer a number of questions: what software patents are; what their history is; what their legal status is today; what problem is posed by their enforcement; how our past successful campaigns were not enough to eliminate them; and

— source | Panos Alevropoulos | Aug 04, 2021

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How did FSFE go astray?

To help eliminate gossip and innuendo, we’ve updated the About page with a brief, fact-based summary of how FSFE ran off the rails. We hope this clarifies some ambiguity, the crisis in FSFE has breen brewing for a long time and didn’t spontaneously arrive with any one volunteer or decision.

In 1985, the FSF was founded by Richard Stallman.

In 2001, a group of volunteers split from FSF and started using the name FSF Europe, now FSFE, for a new organization. They promised to be subject to an agreement with FSF but they abandoned the agreement and stubbornly continued using the name FSFE anyway.

In 2009, these people promised volunteers that they would be better than the FSF by giving volunteers membership, as Fellows and giving them permission to vote.

— source | Apr 20, 2020

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The Daniel Baumann experiment

Editor’s note: dissemination of adverse material about volunteers was pioneered by former leader Chris Lamb on 20 September 2018 and sustained by his successfor Sam Hartman. This blog reflects that leadership style.

On 8 March 2013, Joerg Jaspert started an experiment in shaming and controlling another volunteer, Daniel Baumann.

The story has a lot in common with other recent cases where people in the Debian cabal have abused volunteers. The Baumann experiment proves that this has been a long standing problem in Debian itself. The volunteers selected for shaming do not deserve this, no matter what mistakes they made.

The Baumann experiment lasted from 8 March 2013 up to 4 August 2018. Baumann was subject to this shaming experiment for 1,975 days.

— source | Apr 14, 2020

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Handling attacks on volunteers and their families

Over the years, volunteers have done a lot to promote and contribute to free and open source software and the organizations/communities in this space. The leaders are not the only ones doing this work. Many people are quietly doing far more work than the leaders of some free software organizations.

In 2017, the now defunct FSFE Fellowship, which consisted of approximately 1,500 Fellows, voted for me to be their community representative. Not only did I have to represent those who voted for me, but also those who voted for other candidates. I also discovered that I was representing a Fellow who died leaving a EUR 150,000 bequest. Although I was only a volunteer, I took all those responsibilities seriously.

I didn’t realize this at the beginning but representing the interests of donors and volunteers put me in opposition to some people who had not previously had to deal with the same level of committment

— source | Daniel Pocock | 15 Mar 2020

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Debian’s cover-up of harassment, abuse and exploitation

Sunday, March 8 is International Women’s Day. The challenges that women face in their professional lives are one of the core themes of the day.

In computer science education, approximately thirty percent of students are female. This drops to ten percent in the workforce. In free software organizations, the representation of women is far worse: a little bit over one percent of Debian Developers are female. With the recent concerns about Outreachy internships, harassment and abuse, there couldn’t be a better time to consider some of the hard facts and recent scandals that keep things this way.

Many free software organizations are now paying diversity bursaries to women to facilitate travel to free software events. Some organizations are also hosting female interns under programs like Outreachy. Debian funds are used to pay approximately four Outreachy interns each year, the overall

— source | Mar 6, 2020

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Tennis Australia’s celebration of Margaret Court, sends out a message to FSF

In 2020, Tennis Australia presented a special trophy to Margaret Court, one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Court claimed all four major titles in the year 1970 and won a total of 24 grand slams: Serena Williams has only won 23 so far and Roger Federer only has 20.

While there is no doubt as to Court’s greatness as an athlete, her views on LGBT people and their rights are controversial and not consistent with the majority of people in the sport today.

Despite these sensitive issues and the offense they cause to LGBT players in particular, Tennis Australia has still gone ahead with a ceremony to recognize Court’s achievements as an athlete, right in the middle of the 2020 Australian Open tournament, on center court, the trophy presented to her by another legend of Australian Tennis, Rod Laver.

While doing so, Tennis Australia has made it clear that they are distinguishing her personal views from her sporting achievements, explicitly acknowledging the pain caused by the former. Fellow athletes went further, Martina Navratilova climbing the umpire’s chair and using the microphone to denounce Court.

What does diversity mean to you? Is Tennis Australia being true to diversity, by recognising Court’s sporting achievements for their athletic merit alone? Or does diversity mean we have to erase those people who don’t agree with our own definition of diversity?

Compare this to the recent lynchings in Free Software communities around the world.

In 2014, Brendan Eich, one of the co-founders of Mozilla, was promoted to the position of CEO. A lynching-by-Twitter quickly began, hounding him to resign barely 10 days later because of his concerns about gay marriage.

In 2019, similar tactics were used to attack Richard Stallman (RMS), founder of the Free Software Foundation. RMS has no homophobic or sexist agenda. He is a computer scientist, not a diplomat and some of his communications could have been worded more carefully. Nonetheless, the dogs were let off their leash, things he had written were used out of context to create a false depiction of him as a villain and within a few days, RMS had resigned.

In contrast to Tennis Australia’s memorialisation of Margaret Court’s achievements, the FSF has set about deleting RMS’s legacy, deleting his name from their history. Newspaper headlines have appeared associating RMS with Jeffrey Epstein, yet there is no evidence that they ever had any contact during Epstein’s visits to RMS’s former workplace, MIT. This type of press coverage is no accident: it is not only intended to hurt RMS personally, it is also intended to undermine his message of freedom. It is an attack that hurts anybody with a personality that prioritizes principles over popularity.

In the short term, some of those behind these attacks may be giving themselves high-fives and pats on the back but in the long term, these lynchings send out a subconscious message to volunteers that we are all disposable. If the founder of the movement can be backstabbed on the cusp of his retirement, anybody can. Tennis Australia’s celebration of Margaret Court, however, sends out a message that achievement will always have merit and nobody’s achievements will be erased for political expedience. Which type of organization would you rather associate with in the long term?

If you have to force people to fit your definition of diversity, you are not promoting diversity at all.

Genuine diversity has its roots in the principles of equality and human rights. Mob justice, censorship and exclusion on political grounds violate human rights and therefore sabotage the foundation upon which diversity is built.

— source | 1 Feb 2020

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FSF coup!

Some people try to tell me that the criticism I’ve got, inside the FSF and outside, since the Free Software Sept 11, was not about my being supportive of RMS, but about my making public statements referencing him at all.

That must be the reason why public complaints are passed on to me when my postings are favorable to Richard as much as when they are disfavorable. Uhh, no, I only get such complaints when they’re favorable.

To wit, even before Richard left the board, I posted multiple requests for feedback from people all over the spectrum of opinions about Richard that I’d heard. This was deemed confusing by a number of people, because they couldn’t figure out my own position (by design), but what were the complaints that were passed on to me? You guessed it, about a post that was favorable to him.

— source | Alexandre Oliva | Feb 24, 2020

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Use and throw culture based on lies can’t be coming from Free Software philosophy

In any society there will always lot of heavy works to be done. Sometimes it may not be visible and sometime its happen as a sudden disaster.

For example 9/11 was a sudden disaster. 2,977 people got killed immediately. The twin towers fell down. Huge amount of debris and dust piled up. Nobody knows whether there any living person in that debris. Also the place has to be cleanup.

That was an emergency. Lot of ordinary patriotic Americans united there and started rescue operation and cleanup. They worked very hard. And foundation stone for a new tower was laid. Bush thanked everyone. All called them as true heroes. Bush went to Iraq and after few months everything became normal.

But what happened to these rescue workers? Anybody asked? Any media talk shows? Nothing. Its American ethics. Use and throw.

But there a hidden danger. The dust from the debris was poisonous. More than 20k workers got affected by that. All got lung diseases and cancers. These never became a burning issue. America ignored these patriotic citizens. Government ignored them.

Even Michael Moore took few of them to Guantanamo because the prisoners there are getting better health care than the American patriots. But they could not enter there. So he took them to Cuban hospitals. See that part in his documentary Sicko, the woman was crying and saying its an insult to get medicine in few cents. (Similar thing happened few weeks back when Bernie Sanders took few American patients to Canada.) Still these poor innocent people are fighting for life.

FSF is corrupt, Fix it

Similar thing happened to Stallman. Actually in an ironic way. This community is created by Stallman only. By 1980s beginning software sharing community was ceased to exist. Then 1983 Stallman himself gave birth to a new community with all legal protection. Because before there were no legal framework for sharing software. Stallman used copyleft idea and GPL to create such a community. There were no help and there were no support. Last 35 years he worked for that.

Now some new bosses think that he dont look good. He is boring, repeating same thing all these 35 years. Lets get rid off him. You idiots, actually this is his house. You people piggybacked there.

Still you can have a say if Stallman did anything wrong about free software. But there is nothing he did wrong. Still again I may support you if you with some guts initiate a trial against him on your own behalf. But you did nothing. Instead what you a shameless creature did? Hiding bind an upset woman reacting to smear campaign and lies. This is unacceptable and unethical.

And this happens in a time when the top propitiatory software development companies branding themselves as OEM Source Software companies (Open Source), rewriting history and attacking freedom of users. So attack on Stallman cannot be considered as just his own personal issues.

FSF, the most important thing an organization need is it integrity to its cause. So FSF correct your actions. Apologize to Stallman and get him back. We want a united FSF under Stallman.

Written by: Jagadees.S

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Free software is not an ethical issue, its a user right issue

In 1983 Richard Stallman began the battle of software freedom. Nobody was with him at that time. He alone fought for it. This happened when he faced an injustice while using the Xerox printer software. So he decided that he will work for creating softwares that give justice to its users.

So he started developing a system which does that. He called it Gnu. Also he created laws to protect that system. It is called GPL license. Lot of software developer joined his movement and finally we got complete working Gnu system. But the battle never ends there. Fight for freedom is a never ending task. Because those who want to chain us will always tries to find some way to annihilate our freedom. So the battle goes on and we see that now also.

Ethics of free software

Anything happens in our life or society can be seen through lens of ethics. So software also has that. But that ethics is comes from the perspective of developer. Stallman says he dont want develop software that chains its users. That is a strong ethical point. But it comes from developer. Some egoistic developers and companies sees this as a charity from software developers or companies.

User’s right is above developer’s ethics

Software developer or company is just a worker. We cannot rely on them for our rights. We have our rights. So I think its user right issue. For example, I want to use some software. but I can say that (1) I should get the right to run the software, (2) I should get the right to see the source code, (3) I should get the right to share the software and source code, (4) I should get the right to modify and share the modified version. If I am not getting these rights I dont want your software. I will ask somebody else to write softwares with those rights for me. Thats all. Simple.

But it can become ethical issues for someone when he or she takes decisions on it. For example, a school management can think like should we impose software that cannot be shared in school. Or somebody asks you can copy of the program. Usually we tell kids to share things. But its a rare case compared to huge individual use of software.

Trap of the ethics

Right and ethics are different issues. Ethics is vague. But rights are specific and clear. Ethics changes with person’s world view. In the above section I mentioned developers who think they are doing charity to society. So people have their own ethics bubble.

If you treat free software as ethical issue, then all ethical issues of capitalism will haunt you some time. Thats why this lady is arguing with Stallman about animal right issue. She want to merge free software and animal right. Lot of free software people thinks like that and unnecessarily jump into the trap of planted ethics. Capitalism creates millions of ethical issue, eg polluting the environment, selling poor woman’s body, you cannot solve all with one stroke by your organization.

Corporate media always push those ethical issues which will be useful for the ruling class. So if you prisoned yourself in that you may think that 50% of the free software should be developed by women. Good idea. If its like that then its good. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you are free software developer develop free software. Thats all. Your job is creating free software and issues related software. Others will take care of other issues. Its good if you can join other progressive movements. But its not mandatory. But don’t let them dictate your movement. Don’t try to be superstar. Its only in fiction. Don’t make free software movement as a fiction.

If your protest is hurting other progressive protests then remember that its a trap designed by the ruling class. Don’t fall into that. Be careful.


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Written by: Jagadees.S

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No justification for Stallman’s resignation

Richard Stallman, the founder of Free Software Movement, resigned. Did he do something wrong? No. He had some wrong beliefs that he openly told to a semi private email list. Thats a good thing. He openly said things. So others get opportunity to correct him. Right? No. It created a land slide. Finally he was forced to resign from the same institution he founded in 1984 to protect software user’s rights. Then his own project members rejected them. I could not find any genuine reason for all these.

All these happened because he said something about a news article appeared on a news portal. Actually he was analyzing the words used in news article. Ok let it be a bad thing. So you decided it was wrong and asked for his resignation. You have to make a press release about things. Every is fine. I will accept it.

But this was not happened. In the same email discussion somebody wrote that that person was worried about the mail get leaking to press. That happened. Email reached outside. Online lynch mob began. Facebook events organized for protest against him. There was a smear campaign event in officially started. Lot of media telling all kinds of lies about Stallman. Then Stallman’s comment came that he was forced to resign from FSF president position.

This is wrong. I cannot accept it. But FSF did that. By accepting the resignation what FSF tell the world that they approves all smear campaign and lies spread in the society. In another words you can say that FSF secretly conspired with others for these smear campaign to fire Stallman. That usually happen in power structures.

Stallman is not a popular figure. He is only known to people in free software movement and and few other tech people. Sex trafficker CIA agent, his connection to MIT, one computer scientist’s resignation, all the in media give completely wrong information about Stallman. And a lot of lies about Stallman also spreading. People are even putting Stallman’s name for what other people did. They are painting Stallman with what ever paints they like. Complete lies. Some even comes back saying apologies too. But that does not help since the damage is actually done. Complete character assassination based on lies are happening. There is reason for all these. Stallman’s idea actually reduces profit of companies. Means it shrinks economy where all are crying for, what Greta Thunberg mentioned, “eternal economic growth”.

At this context rejecting Stallman’s resignation was the only decision FSF should have been taken. Lets FSF apologize to Stallman and take him back to his position. Lets have a united FSF for defending user’s freedom.


Written by: Jagadees.S

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