07.18.11

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Concerns About GNU and the FSF

Posted in FSF at 10:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Man standing on the wall

Summary: Corporations like Google and IBM should do more to keep the FSF strong

AS a longtime supporter and strong advocate of Free/libre software (not just a GNU/Linux supporter), I must confess my worries about the FSF, which a few months ago lost its top man and has since then not been so prominent in Identi.ca (at least the !fsf group) and not blogged so much, either. This does not necessarily mean less development activity in GNU or less exposure for the GPL. All it means is that, based on several data points, it seems safe to say that the FSF was getting more exposure last year and the year before that, maybe further back too.

“It is a sort of sharing maximalism.”The FSF is essential not just as an education effort but also as the steward of some of the best software licences out there — those that ensure dissemination of work and knowledge. It is a sort of sharing maximalism.

Companies that care about software developers should support the FSF to ensure it stays strong. The past year’s contributions to the FSF were lower than before (based on a trusted source) and in the age of kill switches, DRM and software patents we really need groups like the FSF doing their thing. Techrights was never supported financially (except from my own pocket and the pocket of our generous host) and we do not expect to, either. Recently, Ad Bard shut its network down (that was about 3 weeks ago), so Free software-friendly adverts do not exist here either. We are not asking for handouts, but this post is intended to remind large companies like Google and IBM to keep the FSF strong. To them, becoming patrons of groups like the FSF is just slush funds — money that can make big difference to a lot of people, including those companies’ own employees.

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4 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    July 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Gravatar

    Don’t wait for big companies to support the FSF, do it yourself by becoming an associate member. They have a $5/month student rate and a $10/month standard dues. That might not seem like a lot of money but multiplied by hundreds or thousands of members, it becomes something substantial. Once you set up, the dues are deducted from your credit card automatically. You can give more, of course, if your circumstances merit it. Currently, there are about 3,000 active members so there’s roughly $30,000/month to support operations. More would obviously be better.

    I wonder if Google has a corporate matching program for charities. Every employee of Google should be a card carrying FSF member. Given the big buck both they and Google make, you would think they can come up with $20/head. Red Hat, IBM and others also owe a lot and have a great interest in GNU. If these companies won’t donate, the employees should.

  2. Adrian Malacoda said,

    July 19, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Gravatar

    Both Google and IBM are corporate sponsors of FSF

    http://www.fsf.org/patrons

    at $50,000 and $30,000 respectively, although I’m not sure if that’s per month or year…?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Probably per year because the FSF’s fund-raising target was half a million this year.

    twitter Reply:

    That shows you the relative power of payments by individuals, thanks for the link. My petty $10/month is part of a stream that is about ten times larger than any corporate donation. Everyone who works with gnu/linux should sign up, buy schwag and do other things to help.

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