Conservancy News Round-up

Check out these videos, blog posts from member projects, code releases and upcoming events.

Richard Stallman - "Computing, Freedom, and Privacy" (Lausanne, Switzerland)

The way digital technology is developing, it threatens our freedom, within our computers and in the internet. What are the threats? What must we change?

This speech by Richard Stallman will be nontechnical, admission is gratis, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Location: auditoire 1031, bâtiment Anthropole (E 6.584301426, N 46.52366542) (métro UNIL-Chamberonne), Université de Lausanne (UNIL), CH-1015, Lausanne, Switzerland

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Lausanne.

LibrePlanet 2019 wrap-up: Building the free software utopia

From the time of free software's inception, with Richard Stallman's announcement of the GNU Project in 1984, community has been a central part of its philosophy: we must be free to choose to share any software we use or create. Stallman wrote, "I consider that the golden rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it," and from this point concluded that we must always be permitted to share our discoveries and innovations with others, in order to make their computing and their lives easier and better. Software that is free always has benefits beyond the individual, and the free software movement depends on a vibrant, ever-changing, committed pool of developers, activists, users, and enthusiasts to keep the dream alive and the movement growing.

Every year, the LibrePlanet conference brings together many members of that movement to celebrate our achievements, strategize how to deal with our setbacks, show off new ideas, and decide what new frontiers we will trailblaze together next. The 2019 conference included many introductions to, and updates from, new and familiar projects, discussions on copyleft and security, and explorations of free software in the business world, but one compelling theme was woven through both days of the conference: how do we maintain and increase the health of our all-important community?

The winners of the 2018 Free Software Awards, presented during Stallman's keynote speech on Saturday night, both reflected how crucial community engagement and advocacy are to the free software movement. Deborah Nicholson was given the Award for the Advancement of Free Software, recognizing her position as an exceptional opinion leader, activist, and community advocate. Her speech on Sunday, "Free software/utopia," emphasized her efforts to consciously sustain a positive development environment: she pointed out that even extremely dedicated contributors to a project can ruin the whole thing if they insist on negative and insulting behavior. If the free software movement is to grow, it must attract and maintain newcomers, and that means insisting on good behavior.

The Award for Projects of Social Benefit also reflected the community-building theme: the winner, OpenStreetMap, is a free, editable map of the world that owes its breadth and utility to the efforts of over one million volunteer community members. It's an amazing example of how huge numbers of motivated people can be inspired to do tremendous good together, and in addition to the obvious ethical benefit of it being free software, it's also helped to provide priceless information to humanitarian efforts, like the disaster response after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.

Other talks that explored aspects of the free software community included:

  • "Hackerspace Rancho Electrónico," in which activists Martha Esperilla and Stefanía Acevedo described their radical hackerspace, which welcomes hackers, hacktivists, and free software users at all levels for workshops, talks, meetings, working groups, and more;
  • "Sharing global opportunities for new developers in the Wikipedia community," in which Srishti Sethi provided a gentle introduction to the world of Wikimedia for newcomers, with plenty of pointers on how to get started;
  • "Governing the software commons," in which Shauna Gordon-McKeon delineated some of the many forms of governance structures that dictate how people can and can't participate in the building and proliferation of free software projects;
  • "Sparking change: What free software can learn from successful social movements," in which Mary Kate Fain suggested lessons of past movements to use to mobilize our wider communities to fight against the abuses of proprietary software; and
  • "Meta-rules for codes of conduct," in which Katheryn Sutter explored the ways in which free software enthusiasts might be communicating poorly with each other, and how to create codes of conduct to enable us all to understand each other and treat each other with respect.

The sobering and inspiring closing keynote from Micky Metts, a prominent free software activist and member of the Agaric Design Collective, the MayFirst.org leadership committee, and Drupal, also emphasized gathering our forces to fight the evils of proprietary software. She delineated the increasingly sinister ways in which corporate technologies are creeping into our private lives, arguing that scenarios like Orwell's 1984 are closer than ever to fruition, and will keep advancing if we don't fight back with a bold new tide of free software and other creative solutions.

With all of this urgency, it's easy to forget that one of the key aspects of free software that attracts newcomers and keeps us in the fold is the joy of discovery and the fun of invention made possible when you have complete free reign over the code you use. And what better example of free software-powered fun is there than gigantic model rockets? Free software veteran Bdale Garbee opened up day two of the conference with the keynote speech, "Freedom is fun!", where we learned how Bdale has used free software design tools to build everything from rockets to his son's guitar. Free software is necessary to save privacy and democracy -- but there's a reason why so many people like to tinker with it in their free time, and that's because they enjoy it.

Between Saturday and Sunday, there were 66 speakers in over 40 sessions, with 53 volunteers and over 341 total participants. We also gave away raffle prizes generously donated by Vikings GmBH; Technoethical; Aleph Objects; ThinkPenguin; JMP; Altus Metrum, LLC; and Aeronaut, and we're extremely grateful to our generous sponsors, Red Hat and Private Internet Access. If you were at the conference or participating remotely, please fill out our feedback form by April 9 to let us know how to make next year even better. And whether you participated or not, keep an eye on our MediaGoblin instance for photos from the event, and videos of nearly every speech, coming soon!

Finally: while the LibrePlanet conference only happens once a year, the free software community needs your participation year-round. You can find local LibrePlanet teams at the LibrePlanet wiki, and if you're not already an FSF associate member, joining the FSF enables you to support the fight for software freedom and sustain the free software community all year round!

Summer internships at the FSF! Apply by April 30

Do you believe that free software is crucial to a free society? Do you want to help people learn why free software matters, and how to use it? Do you want to dig deep into software freedom issues like copyleft, Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), or surveillance and encryption? Or, do you want to learn systems administration, design, or other tasks using only free software?

These positions are unpaid, but the FSF will provide any appropriate documentation you might need to receive funding and school credit from outside sources. We also provide lunch expense reimbursement and a monthly transportation pass that will give you free access to local subways and buses (MBTA). We place an emphasis on providing hands-on educational opportunities for interns, in which they work closely with staff mentors on projects that match their skills and interest.

Interns can choose from the following fields of work:

Summer internships start in June and typically run for a period of twelve weeks. We prefer candidates who are able to work in our Boston office, but may consider remote interns. The deadline to apply is April 30.

To apply, send a letter of interest and a resume with two references to hiring@fsf.org. Please send all application materials in free software-friendly formats like .pdf, .odt, and .txt. Use "Summer internship application" as the subject line of your email. Please include links to your writing, design, or coding work if it applies -- personal, professional, or class work is acceptable. URLs are preferred, though email attachments in free formats are acceptable, too. Learn more about our internships, and direct any questions to info@fsf.org.

Do You Know Where Your Code Came From? If You Don't Have Source You Aren't Secure

I sometimes work for Conservancy assisting in their compliance work. Conservancy follows the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement, enforcement principles published by Conservancy and the Free Software Foundation. As the process goes, Conservancy receives complaints from users about products whose sellers aren't meeting their GPL license obligations and Conservancy may investigate. Many of these complaints are for hardware devices with embedded code. The complaints are almost always are that there is free software on the device but that the source code is not available.

Richard Stallman - "Copyright vs Community" (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Copyright developed in the age of the printing press, and was designed to fit with the system of centralized copying imposed by the printing press. But the copyright system does not fit well with computer networks, and only draconian punishments can enforce it.

The global corporations that profit from copyright are lobbying for draconian punishments, and to increase their copyright powers, while suppressing public access to technology. But if we seriously hope to serve the only legitimate purpose of copyright–to promote progress, for the benefit of the public–then we must make changes in the other direction.

This speech by Richard Stallman will be nontechnical, admission is gratis, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Location: exact location to be determined, Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (Technical University of Denmark (DTU)), København, Danmark

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Copenhagen.

Registration, which can be done anonymously, while not required, is appreciated; it will help us ensure we can accommodate all the people who wish to attend.

Richard Stallman - "Computing, freedom, and privacy" (Copenhagen, Denmark)

The way digital technology is developing, it threatens our freedom, within our computers and in the internet. What are the threats? What must we change?

This speech by Richard Stallman will be nontechnical, admission is gratis, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Location: Lundbeckfond Auditorium, Københavns Biocenter (Copenhagen Biocenter), Københavns Universitet (University of Copenhagen (KU)), Ole Maaløes Vej 5, DK-2200 København N, Danmark

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Copenhagen.

Registration, which can be done anonymously, while not required, is appreciated; it will help us ensure we can accommodate all the people who wish to attend.

Richard Stallman to speak in Odense, Denmark

This speech by Richard Stallman will be nontechnical, admission is gratis, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Location: exact location to be determined, Odense Universitet (Odense University (SDU)), Odense, Danmark

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Odense.

Registration, which can be done anonymously, while not required, is appreciated; it will help us ensure we can accommodate all the people who wish to attend.

Richard Stallman to speak in Copenhagen, Denmark

This speech by Richard Stallman will be nontechnical, admission is gratis, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Location: exact location to be determined, IT-Universitetet i København (IT University of Copenhagen (ITU)), København, Danmark

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Copenhagen.

Registration, which can be done anonymously, while not required, is appreciated; it will help us ensure we can accommodate all the people who wish to attend.

Richard Stallman to speak in Aalborg, Denmark

This speech by Richard Stallman will be nontechnical, admission is gratis, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Location: exact location to be determined, Aalborg Universitet (Aalborg University (AAU)), Aalborg, Danmark

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Aalborg.

Registration, which can be done anonymously, while not required, is appreciated; it will help us ensure we can accommodate all the people who wish to attend.