05.07.20

Matthias Kirschner (et al) Should Not Have Taken Microsoft Money, as Per the Agreement With the Free Software Foundation (FSF)

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FSF, Microsoft at 12:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

15 years ago this was unthinkable; and Microsoft has not changed (except its entryism strategy)

FSFE Donors in 2005
People and firms that supported FSFE a year after the current President had joined

Summary: The corrosive impact of Microsoft money and why the FSFE wasn’t supposed to take it; supporting members would likely disapprove because Microsoft stands for the very things they sought to put an end to

WE RECENTLY wrote about the problematic payment from Microsoft to Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), which was founded 19 years ago, 5 years before the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC). The FSF-Relationship-Framework (2005) document is shown below, as it appeared sort of publicly on the Free Software Fellowship‘s mailing list.

To quote: “These things will never be done by any FSF: [...] Formally ally itself with an organization or person that develops or distributes non-free software or non-free software documentation.”

“The biggest fact is the memorandum,” told us a reader, “which has never been published.”

The reader saw it in the above mailing list. “Notice it is not a legal document,” the reader said, and “it doesn’t have the usual clauses that would allow FSF to terminate the agreement and protect their trademark. Maybe FSF was just naive, we can’t be sure. This document seriously dilutes the value of the FSF brand.”

“Months after SFC took money from Microsoft the SFC’s Web site called for the resignation/removal of RMS.”As we noted before, after RMS was ‘ousted’ (from the FSF’s Board, which he left after pressure) the FSF 'lifted its kimono' like the Linux Foundation had done, hoping to attract sponsors for LibrePlanet, which was eventually canceled due to the pandemic and became just a webstream (like many other cancelled events, still in denial about their cancellation in order to save face, calling webstreams “virtual events” or something ridiculous along those lines).

“Unfortunately,” our reader concludes, “anybody holding this document could go and create an FSF today.”

And then take money from Microsoft…

Marked in/as bold below is one of several relevant bits:

$Id: FSF-Relationship-Framework.txt 2221 2005-09-02 08:21:16Z greve $

Written by Lisa M. Goldstein, opus@gnu.org,
and Richard M. Stallman, rms@gnu.org

    A Relationship Framework for FSFs.

This a draft framework for the relationship between the FSF sister
organizations in various parts of the world.  It says which activities
are to be carried out which FSFs, either individually or working
together.

FSF-NA refers to the original Free Software Foundation with
headquarters in Boston.  A "major FSF" refers to an FSF that covers a
region which is a whole continent or contains a large fraction of the
population of the continent it is in.  The hope is that the number of
major FSFs will be limited.

A. The following activities will be carried out initially by the
FSF-NA after consultation with the other FSFs.  We intend, in the
future, after we have gained experience working together, to develop a
system wherein these decisions are approved jointly by a specific list
of several major FSFs.

1. Set policy regarding free software licenses, including
   the criteria for free software, the development of licenses,
   and the criteria for choosing the license to use for a program.

2. Define official positions on major new circumstances, such as new
   technologies, new legal issues, etc, which globally impact the Free
   Software movement or our licenses, and publish position papers to
   state these positions.

3. Make major changes in the management of the GNU Project.

4. Approve translations of licenses into languages other than English.
   (Translation of licenses requires special care and we will have to
   approach this cautiously.)

5. Decide whether an organization qualifies as an FSF.

B. The following activities will be carried out by one particular FSF
initially, and may be extended to individual other major FSFs if need
arises:

1. FSF-NA: Certify as a service to businesses that products comply
   with the GPL.

2. FSF-NA: Be the official copyright holder on GNU software and manuals
   (when the developers do not keep the copyright).

3. FSF-NA: Hold the primary copies of the copyright assignments
   themselves.

4. FSF-Europe: Manage and operate the GNU Business Network.

C. The following activities are to be carried out by every FSF:

1. Encourage the development of globally-useful free software
   packages.

2. Develop new free software and manuals, and adapt existing free
   software and manuals, to meet its region's special cultural and
   linguistic needs.

3. Following the overall policy set as in A, create and issue
   official positions for local events and new local laws that may
   have impact on the Free Software movement or its licenses.

4. Translate FSF position papers into local languages.

5. Advocate FSF official positions developed in A to national and
   local governments.

5a. Study possible local threats to software freedom and possible
   countermeasures.

6. Recruit more volunteers for the GNU Project and
   other free software projects.

7. Raise funds to spend on free software development and other
   free software activities.

8. Sell copies of free (as in freedom) software, free manuals, and
   other products to raise funds to pay for local staff and local
   events.  FSFs will resell their products to each other at cost for
   redistribution in other countries by sister groups.

9. Develop media relations to create awareness of the FSF and Free
   Software positions and events.

10. Advise free software developers on licensing matters
    and technical questions.

11. Enforce and defend the GPL and its sister licenses internationally
    for software that it holds copyright on.

12. Assist, in its region, efforts by other FSFs to enforce and defend
    the GPL and its sister licenses for the software they hold the
    copyright on.

13. When asked to, hold duplicate copies of copyright
    assignments and other legal papers for other FSFs.

14. Maintain a speaker's bureau.

15. Develop free (as in freedom) class materials for training and
    education in use of GNU and other free software.

16. Raise awareness of the unethical and antisocial nature
    of non-free software.

17. Assist other organizations in upholding the GPL
    and other activities that benefit the free software cause.

18. Encourage general cooperation with the GNU Project.

19. Send information about its main projects to the other FSFs.

19a. Keep its board of directors in contact with the boards of
     other FSFs, and keep its executives in contact with the
     executives of other FSFs.

20. Cooperate generally with all other FSFs.

D. These things will never be done by any FSF:

1. Distribute or develop non-free software or non-free software
   documentation.

2. Promote or encourage the use of any non-free program or non-free
   software documentation.

3. Formally ally itself with an organization or person that develops
   or distributes non-free software or non-free software
   documentation.
   
   

If FSFE is willing to take money from Microsoft — as SFC did last year and this year (in effect selling Microsoft a keynote speech in a conference about something Microsoft viciously attacks) — who next? What next? Days ago they spoke about their accomplishment in Munich. Will they still ‘disparage’ Microsoft (sponsor) by speaking about what Microsoft did to GNU/Linux in Munich? Months after SFC took money from Microsoft the SFC’s Web site called for the resignation/removal of RMS. Guess what the FSFE said in its press release when RMS stepped down (and before).

Imagine giving a portion of your salary for several years to support the same FSFE (or SFC) that treats the very founder of Free software like that. While taking money from Microsoft…

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