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Last update: 2007-10-09

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FSFE Launching Freedom Task Force

support for the Free Software Foundation Europe

[Press release] In co-operating with

FTF to educate programmers and corporations on how to avoid licensing problems, as well as enforce Free Software licences

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) announced today the launch of the Freedom Task Force, thanks to a grant of €30.000 from Stichting NLnet. The organisation, working closely with Harald Welte of, seeks to help programmers properly set up and organise projects legally, as well as educate companies to understand how the GPL works. As needed, the purpose of the group will also include enforcement in the case of licence violations. FTF is located in FSFE's offices in Zürich, Switzerland.

"Free Software itself has become commercial mainstream, but knowledge about Free Software and in particular its licences is often lagging behind," explains Georg Greve, FSFE's president. "With large companies like SUN embracing Free Software at the heart of their business, the software ecosystem is transforming in ways that underline the requirement for services like the FTF."

FTF will include experts with technical and legal backgrounds as well as volunteers, working together to provide organised and co-ordinated responses to individual cases where there may be misunderstandings about what a licence requires or a violation of its terms. FSFE has hired Mr. Shane Coughlan to serve as FTF Co-ordinator.

Shane Coughlan on the other tasks of the FTF: "We seek to give commercial and non-commercial Free Software developers the maximum support possible with our fiduciary activities. By helping them bundle their legal interests, we are able to safeguard the legal status of a project while it can focus on technological and managerial issues. For projects that FSFE has accepted into its fiduciary program, FSFE will also be in a position to defend their interests in the eventuality of licence violation."

Harald Welte, the first person who enforced the GNU GPL in court, will be working closely with the FTF: "My work has shown how much the community needs a more focussed approach to deal with these violations. While there was good contact with FSFE in the past, we will now be working closely together, sharing our information and resources to best protect the rights of Free Software developers."

"We have as a primary goal to help corporations to adhere to the licences from the onset, rather than to have to enforce violations later," explains Mr. Coughlan. "We encourage those responsible for compliance for their company to contact us, so we can work together to avoid licence compliance problems, rather than having to later solve problems that could have been avoided in the first place."

Stichting NLnet Chairman Teus Hagen expressed pleasure at the launch of FTF: "We are very happy to support the launch of the FTF because in our view this is a timely and necessary step to consolidate Free Software. We ourselves at times felt the need for a reliable partner to handle these issues, and in our experience the FSFE is such a partner. We hope that many others will contribute to and support this effort, and see the FTF as an important step in the maturing of Free Software."

Project FSF Europe

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