Software Freedom Conservancy

New York, United States

The Software Freedom Conservancy is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organizational home for FLOSS projects.

  • 2018-01-14T19:28:50Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers

    Right now, #Conservancy's bkuhn is verifying donations for credit to our match. Spoiler alert: we're close; a few more donations today will take us over the top! Last chance to take advantage of the generous match from PIA & Anonymous

    Mussot valéry, ❌, McClane likes this. ❌, ❌, ❌, ❌ and 3 others shared this.

  • Judy Gichoya, Doctor & Developer of LibreHealth, Asks You to Support Conservancy

    2017-12-31T20:54:18Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers

    Judy Gichoya, Doctor & Developer of LibreHealth, Asks You to Support Conservancy

    by Bradley M. Kuhn on December 31, 2017

    About a year ago, we announced the joining of a newly formed project, LibreHealth, as a Conservancy member project. This year, I had the opportunity to meet, at various conferences, Judy Gichoya, who is a medical doctor specializing in Radiology from Kenya, and is also a software developer on the LibreHealth project. Your browser does not support the element. Perhaps you can or .

    Judy represents so much about why we at Conservancy continue to fight for software freedom: we foster technology that everyone can examine, improve, and share, and allow people from different backgrounds — including geographically, professionally and culturally — to come together to make that technology better.

    Invariably, every time I go to a doctor's office here in the USA, the staff complains (or makes an excuse) for the proprietary software they use to handle my medical data. My colleague, Karen Sandler, has researched and spoken extensively about the health dangers of proprietary software on medical devices. LibreHealth is one of many projects which seeks to solve some of these problems by creating more medical-related software that gives doctors and patients the software freedom they deserve.

    Judy recorded this video to ask you to become a Supporter of Conservancy. On this last day of 2017, we all ask you to donate generously to help our work continue!


    » Software Freedom Conservancy:

    “[...] On this last day of 2016 [...]”

    2016? =)

    JanKusanagi at 2017-12-31T21:06:23Z

    it's probably a secret reference to the 2016 coup in Brazil.  2017 was much of the same, and 2018 isn't expected to be much different.  2016 part III :-(
    but, whatever, I still wish a happy gnu year to all

    Alexandre Oliva at 2017-12-31T23:31:14Z

  • Chris Neugebauer, chair of North Bay Python, encourages you to Support Software Freedom Conservancy

    2017-12-23T16:48:40Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    Chris Neugebauer, chair of North Bay Python, encourages you to Support Software Freedom Conservancy

    by Bradley M. Kuhn on December 23, 2017

    Earlier this month, Software Freedom Conservancy helped North Bay Python 2017 complete an excellent Python conference focused on Free and Open Source Software for Python. As with all our member projects, they succeed because of our excellent collaboration between volunteers and Conservancy staff to make sure all the work gets done right.

    In this video, Christopher Neubaugher, conference chair of North Bay Python 2017 and a Conservancy Supporter, encourages you to become a Conservancy Supporter today. And, today's a great day to do it! Your donation will be doubled by our current match campaign.

    Mussot valéry likes this.

  • Conservancy's Executive Director Delivers Keynote Address at Swatantra '17

    2017-12-22T15:39:42Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    Conservancy's Executive Director Delivers Keynote Address at Swatantra '17

    Karen Sandler, Chief Guest of Swatantra Conference in India, Lauded in the Press

    December 22, 2017

    This week, Karen Sandler keynoted at Swatantra '17, a conference in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala organized by the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an autonomous organization set up by Kerala's government.

    Karen told the large crowd about her own experience that led her to become a strong advocate for software freedom. Specifically, in 2006, Karen needed a heart defibrillator implanted. In a subsequent research project, Karen learned disturbing facts regarding the safety of the proprietary software in medical devices, which she presented in her keynote. Karen further spoke about her ongoing experiences as both a patient living with implanted proprietary software and an expert in this field, and also discussed the future of ethics in technology and its impact on society.

    Other presenters echoed Karen's message later in the conference, including IT Secretary M. Sivasankar during his official remarks. The Times of India highlighted Karen's presentation in print and online editions, calling her a large-hearted queen of free software, and The Hindu featured her talk in two articles.

    Later in the conference, Karen participated in a panel on learning from the past to improve future advocacy for software freedom. She also had the opportunity to discuss challenges related to diversity in technology at the event and with local govenment officials. Karen promoted Conservancy's Outreachy program and met with a number of attendees who were a part of a women's hacker group to brainstorm future solutions in this area.

    Karen and Conservancy thank the organizers of this excellent event for the opportunity to meet and speak with the enthusiastic and dedicated software freedom advocates and contributors in Kerala.

    Sidenote: this account would look better with an avatar =)

    A cropped square version of this, for instance:

    JanKusanagi at 2017-12-22T15:50:18Z

  • SFLC Files Bizarre Legal Action Against Its Former Client, Software Freedom Conservancy

    2017-11-03T15:07:53Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    SFLC Files Bizarre Legal Action Against Its Former Client, Software Freedom Conservancy

    by Conservancy's Staff on November 3, 2017

    About a month ago, the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), the not-for-profit law firm which launched Conservancy in 2006 and served as Conservancy's law firm until July 2011, took the bizarre and frivolous step of filing a legal action in the United States Patent and Trademark Office seeking cancellation of Conservancy's trademark for our name, “Software Freedom Conservancy”. We were surprised by this spurious action. In our eleven years of coexistence, SFLC has raised no concerns nor complaints about our name, nor ever asked us to change it. We filed our formal answer to SFLC's action yesterday. In the interest of transparency for our thousands of volunteers, donors, Supporters, and friends, we at Conservancy today decided to talk publicly about the matter.

    SFLC's action to cancel our trademark initiated a process nearly identical to litigation. As such, our legal counsel has asked us to limit what we say about the matter. However, we pride ourselves on our commitment to transparency. In those rare instances when we initiated or funded legal action — to defend the public interest through GPL enforcement — we have been as candid as possible about the circumstances. We always explain the extent to which we exhausted other possible solutions, and why we chose litigation as the last resort.

    Currently, this trademark action is in its early stages. SFLC filed a petition on September 22. Yesterday, we provided an answer that lists defenses that we plan to use. However, we welcome press inquiries and interviews on the subject and will do our best to respond and engage in public discussion when possible.

    We are surprised and sad that our former attorneys, who kindly helped our organization start in our earliest days and later excitedly endorsed us when we moved from a volunteer organization to a staffed one, would seek to invalidate our trademark. Conservancy and SFLC are very different organizations and sometimes publicly disagree about detailed policy issues. Yet, both non-profits are charities organized to promote the public's interest. Thus, we are especially disappointed that SFLC would waste the precious resources of both organizations in this frivolous action.

    Meanwhile, there is now widespread agreement in the FLOSS community, embodied both in the FSF's and Conservancy's Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement and the Linux Kernel Enforcement Statement, that FLOSS community members view “legal action as a last resort, to be initiated only when other community efforts have failed to resolve the problem.” We at Conservancy have always adhered to this fundamental principle, not only in GPL enforcement, but in all endeavors. In stark contrast, SFLC made no efforts — over the last eleven years since Conservancy was formed, nor in the last five years since we registered our name as a trademark — to express any concerns about our name, or a desire for us to change our name. We first learned of SFLC's complaints from this surprise attack of legal action.

    SFLC's actions indicate that while they have provided legal services to some members of our FLOSS community, they do not view themselves as members of our FLOSS community, nor consider themselves bound by our community's norms. We are prepared to defend our brand, not just for ourselves but for our many member projects who have their home at Conservancy, our Outreachy diversity initiative, and our collective efforts to promote FLOSS. Nevertheless, we hope SFLC will see the error of their ways and withdraw the action, so that both organizations can refocus resources on serving the public.


    Please email any comments on this entry to

    Nathan Willis likes this.

    McClane, McClane, McClane, McClane and 2 others shared this.

    This is the wrong sort of exciting.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-11-03T19:44:38Z

    at this point, it seems like if anyone is to lose "Software Freedom" from their names, it should be the SFLC :-/

    Alexandre Oliva at 2017-11-09T18:28:22Z

  • Conservancy Applauds Linux Community's Promotion of Principled Copyleft Enforcement

    2017-10-16T13:46:05Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    Conservancy Applauds Linux Community's Promotion of Principled Copyleft Enforcement

    October 16, 2017

    Software Freedom Conservancy congratulates the Linux community for taking steps today to promote principled, community-minded copyleft enforcement by publishing the Linux Kernel Enforcement Statement. The Statement includes an additional permission under Linux's license, the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2 (GPLv2). The additional permission, to which copyright holders may voluntarily opt-in, changes the license of their copyrights to allow reliance on the copyright license termination provisions from the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPLv3) for some cases 1.

    Conservancy also commends the Linux community's Statement for reaffirming that legal action should be last resort for resolving a GPL violation, and for inviting noncompliant companies who work their way back into compliance to become active participants in the community. By bringing clarity to GPLv2 enforcement efforts, companies can adopt software with the assurance that these parties will work in a reasonable, community-centric way to resolve compliance issues.

    Conservancy believes that free and open source software communities can use copyleft licenses to establish a healthy framework for collaboration and cooperation. We also believe that, when seeking compliance with such licenses, it is in the community and in the public's interest to bring people and companies into the community rather than to alienate them or seek monetary gain. That's the fundamental premise of our Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement: yesterday's violator can be tomorrow's valued contributor.

    We co-authored and published the Principles with the FSF in 2015 to engage the broader free and open source software community in a dialogue about how to best achieve community-minded copyleft compliance. We believe that GPLv3's termination provisions better reflect the collaborative and friendly process of GPL enforcement that Conservancy, FSF, and have historically employed. Accordingly, we've encouraged copyright holders in GPLv2-licensed projects to forgive violators who cure violations in a timely manner in accordance with GPLv3§8, despite the stricter terms found in GPLv2§4. We are glad to see the Linux community express their formal alignment with this position.

    Some Linux sub-projects — such as Netfilter — have wholly endorsed and adopted the Principles, and we continue to encourage the entire Linux community to adopt all of the Principles fully. We want to continue the conversation about how to best promote, encourage, and enforce compliance, and we invite members from the Linux community to join our ongoing forum for public discussion on the principles-discuss mailing list. Conservancy has suggested to all Linux copyright holders participating in our GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers) that they sign this new Linux Kernel Enforcement Statement to grant the additional permission.

    In addition to coordinating a coalition of copyright holders, Conservancy itself is a copyright holder in Linux, as developers have also assigned Linux copyrights to our organization. As a copyright holder in Linux, Software Freedom Conservancy signs onto the Linux Kernel Enforcement Statement. We plan to continue our work enforcing GPLv2 for our own copyrights (and those of our coalition), and will always afford violators — as we have since our inception — the 60- and 30-day periods for violation cure in GPLv3, even though Linux's default GPLv2 termination is much stricter and always permanent. We will continue to do this, even in defensive actions.

    1. The additional permission in the Statement does not apply when a company is defending itself from any legal claim, even one unrelated to GPL.

    deejoe, Yutaka Niibe, der.hans likes this.

    der.hans, deejoe, der.hans shared this.

  • Why GPL Compliance Tutorials Should Be Free as in Freedom

    2017-04-26T00:14:52Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    Blog post by Bradley M. Kuhn on April 25, 2017

    I am honored to be a co-author and editor-in-chief of the most comprehensive, detailed, and complete guide on matters related to compliance of copyleft software licenses such as the GPL. This book, Copyleft and the GNU General Public License: A Comprehensive Tutorial and Guide (which we often call the Copyleft Guide for short) is 155 pages filled with useful material to help everyone understand copyleft licenses for software, how they works, and how to comply with them properly. It is the only document to fully incorporate esoteric material such as the FSF's famous GPLv3 rationale documents directly alongside practical advice, such as the pristine example, which is the only freely published compliance analysis of a real product on the market. The document explains in great detail how that product manufacturer made good choices to comply with the GPL. The reader learns by both real-world example as well as abstract explanation.

    However, the most important fact about the Copyleft Guide is not its useful and engaging content. More importantly, the license of this book gives freedom to its readers in the same way the license of the copylefted software does. Specifically, we chose the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 license (CC BY-SA) for this work. We believe that not just software, but any generally useful technical information that teaches people should be freely sharable and modifiable by the general public.

    The reasons these freedoms are necessary seem so obvious that I'm surprised I need to state them. Companies who want to build internal training courses on copyleft compliance for their employees need to modify the materials for that purpose. They then need to be able to freely distribute them to employees and contractors for maximum effect. Furthermore, like all documents and software alike, there are always “bugs”, which (in the case of written prose) usually means there are sections that are fail to communicate to maximum effect. Those who find better ways to express the ideas need the ability to propose patches and write improvements. Perhaps most importantly, everyone who teaches should avoid NIH syndrome. Education and science work best when we borrow and share (with proper license-compliant attribution, of course!) the best material that others develop, and augment our works by incorporating them.

    These reasons are akin to those that led Richard M. Stallman to write his seminal essay, Why Software Should Be Free. Indeed, if you reread that essay now — as I just did — you'll see that much of damage and many of the same problems to the advancement of software that RMS documents in that essay also occur in the world of tutorial documentation about FLOSS licensing. As too often happens in the Open Source community, though, folks seek ways to proprietarize, for profit, any copyrighted work that doesn't already have a copyleft license attached. In the field of copyleft compliance education, we see the same behavior: organizations who wish to control the dialogue and profit from selling compliance education seek to proprietarize the meta-material of compliance education, rather than sharing freely like the software itself. This yields an ironic exploitation, since the copyleft license documented therein exists as a strategy to assure the freedom to share knowledge. These educators tell their audiences with a straight face: Sure, the software is free as in freedom, but if you want to learn how its license works, you have to license our proprietary materials! This behavior uses legal controls to curtail the sharing of knowledge, limits the advancement and improvement of those tutorials, and emboldens silos of know-how that only wealthy corporations have the resources to access and afford. The educational dystopia that these organizations create is precisely what I sought to prevent by advocating for software freedom for so long.

    While Conservancy's primary job provides non-profit infrastructure for Free Software projects, we also do a bit of license compliance work as well. But we practice what we preach: we release all the educational materials that we produce as part of the Copyleft Guide project under CC BY-SA. Other Open Source organizations are currently hypocrites on this point; they tout the values of openness and sharing of knowledge through software, but they take their tutorial materials and lock them up under proprietary licenses. I hereby publicly call on such organizations (including but not limited to the Linux Foundation) to license materials such as those under CC BY-SA.

    I did not make this public call for liberation of such materials without first trying friendly diplomacy first. Conservancy has been in talks with individuals and staff who produce these materials for some time. We urged them to join the Free Software community and share their materials under free licenses. We even offered volunteer time to help them improve those materials if they would simply license them freely. After two years of that effort, it's now abundantly clear that public pressure is the only force that might work0. Ultimately, like all proprietary businesses, the training divisions of Linux Foundation and other entities in the compliance industrial complex (such as Black Duck) realize they can make much more revenue by making materials proprietary and choosing legal restrictions that forbid their students from sharing and improving the materials after they complete the course. While the reality of this impasse regarding freely licensing these materials is probably an obvious outcome, multiple sources inside these organizations have also confirmed for me that liberation of the materials for the good of general public won't happen without a major paradigm shift — specifically because such educational freedom will reduce the revenue stream around those materials.

    Of course, I can attest first-hand that freely liberating tutorial materials curtails revenue. Karen Sandler and I have regularly taught courses on copyleft licensing based on the freely available materials for a few years — most recently in January 2017 at LinuxConf Australia and at at OSCON in a few weeks. These conferences do kindly cover our travel expenses to attend and teach the tutorial, but compliance education is not a revenue stream for Conservancy. While, in an ideal world, we'd get revenue from education to fund our other important activities, we believe that there is value in doing this education as currently funded by our individual Supporters; these education efforts fit withour charitable mission to promote the public good. We furthermore don't believe that locking up the materials and refusing to share them with others fits a mission of software freedom, so we never considered such as a viable option. Finally, given the institutionally-backed FUD that we've continue to witness, we seek to draw specific attention to the fundamental difference in approach that Conservancy (as a charity) take toward this compliance education work. (My my recent talk on compliance covered on LWN includes some points on that matter, if you'd like further reading).

    0One notable exception to these efforts was the success of my colleague, Karen Sandler's (and others) in convincing the OpenChain project to choose CC-0 licensing. However, OpenChain is not officially part of the LF training curriculum to my knowledge, and if it is, it can of course be proprietarized therein, since CC-0 is not a copyleft license.

    sazius, ❌, der.hans likes this. ❌, ❌, ❌, ❌ and 1 others shared this.

  • Supporting Conservancy Makes a Difference

    2017-02-13T15:41:33Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    Supporting Conservancy Makes a Difference

    by Bradley M. Kuhn on February 13, 2017

    There are a lot of problems in our society, and particularly in the USA, right now, and plenty of charities who need our support. The reason I continue to focus my work on software freedom is simply because there are so few focused on the moral and ethical issues of computing. Open Source has reached its pinnacle as an industry fad, and with it, a watered-down message: “having some of the source code for some of your systems some of the time is so great, why would you need anything more?”. Universal software freedom is however further from reality than it was even a few years ago. At least a few of us, in my view, must focus on that cause.

    I did not post many blog posts about this in 2016. There was a reason for that — more than any other year, work demands at Conservancy have been constant and unrelenting. I enjoy my work, so I don't mind, but blogging becomes low priority when there is a constant backlog of urgent work to support Conservancy's mission and our member projects. It's not just Conservancy's mission, of course, it's my personal one as well.

    For our 2016 fundraiser, I wrote last year a blog post entitled “Do You Like What I Do For a Living?”. Last year, so many of you responded, that it not only made it possible for me to continue that work for one more year, but we were able to add our colleague Brett C. Smith to our staff, which brought Conservancy to four full-time staff for the first time. We added a few member projects (and are moving that queue to add more in 2017), and sure enough — the new work plus the backlog of work waiting for another staffer filled Brett's queue just like my, Karen's and Tony's was already filled.

    The challenge now is sustaining this staffing level. Many of you came to our aid last year because we were on the brink of needing to reduce our efforts (and staffing) at Conservancy. Thanks to your overwhelming response, we not only endured, but we were able to add one additional person. As expected, though, needs of our projects increased throughout the year, and we again — all four of us full-time staff — must work to our limits to meet the needs of our projects.

    Charitable donations are a voluntary activity, and as such they have a special place in our society and culture. I've talked a lot about how Conservancy's Supporters give us a mandate to carry out our work. Those of you that chose to renew your Supporter donations or become new Supporters enable us to focus our full-time efforts on the work of Conservancy.

    On the signup and renewal page, you can read about some of our accomplishments in the last year (including my recent keynote at FOSDEM, an excerpt of which is included here). Our work does not follow fads, and it's not particularly glamorous, so only dedicated Supporters like you understand its value. We don't expect to get large grants to meet the unique needs of each of our member projects, and we certainly don't expect large companies to provide very much funding unless we cede control of the organization to their requests (as trade associations do). Even our most popular program, Outreachy, is attacked by a small group of people who don't want to see the status quo of privileged male domination of Open Source and Free Software disrupted.

    Supporter contributions are what make Conservancy possible. A year ago, you helped us build Conservancy as a donor-funded organization and stabilize our funding base. I now must ask that you make an annual commitment to renewal — either by renewing your contribution now or becoming a monthly supporter, or, if you're just learning about my work at Conservancy from this blog post, reading up on us and becoming a new Supporter.

    Years ago, when I was still only a part-time volunteer at Conservancy, someone who disliked our work told me that I had “invented a job of running Conservancy”. He meant it as an insult, but I take it as a compliment with pride. In fact, between me and my colleague (and our Executive Director) Karen Sandler, we've “invented” a total of four full-time jobs and one part-time one to advance software freedom. You helped us do that with your donations. If you donate again today, your donation will be matched to make the funds go further.

    Many have told me this year that they are driven to give to other excellent charities that fight racism, work for civil and immigration rights, and other causes that seem particularly urgent right now. As long as there is racism, sexism, murder, starvation, and governmental oppression in the world, I cannot argue that software freedom should be made a priority above all of those issues. However, even if everyone in our society focused on a single, solitary cause that we agreed was the top priority, it's unlikely we could make quicker progress. Meanwhile, if we all single-mindedly ignore less urgent issues, they will, in time, become so urgent they'll be insurmountable by the time we focus on them.

    Industrialized nations have moved almost fully to computer automation for most every daily task. If you question this fact, try to do your job for a day without using any software at all, or anyone using software on your behalf, and you'll probably find it impossible. Then, try to do your job using only Free Software for a day, and you'll find, as I have, that tasks that should take only a few minutes take hours when you avoid proprietary software, and some are just impossible. There are very few organizations that are considering the long-term implications of this slowly growing problem and making plans to build the foundations of a society that doesn't have that problem. Conservancy is one of those few, so I hope you'll realize that long-term value of our lifelong work to defend and expand software freedom and donate.

    Please email any comments on this entry to

    der.hans, Tyng-Ruey Chuang, Charles Stanhope, Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

    Elena ``of Valhalla'', Christopher Allan Webber shared this.

  • Announcing a new match sprint for 150 Supporters

    2017-02-13T02:53:06Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers

    Conservancy is excited to announce that an anonymous donor has agreed to match 150 new or renewing Supporters. They’ve challenged us to meet the goal quickly: the match starts now along with FOSDEM in Brussels, and runs about a week to the end of Monday, February 13 (noon on Tuesday, February 14 UTC).

    This is Conservancy’s most aggressive match program to date. After an impressive rally from the community to meet the end of the Private Internet Access match last month, we’re eager to see whether we can build off that momentum and the buzz of FOSDEM to sign up 150 Supporters in a week. So don’t hesitate: join or renew as a Conservancy Supporter today!

    We’re especially looking to use this opportunity to encourage new Supporters to join. If you’re already a Supporter, please spread the word about this match to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to sign up. The bigger our Supporter base, the more projects we can help with fiscal sponsorship, outreach, and compliance work. The more we can do, the more the community benefits, so make sure your friends know about this limited-time chance!

    Lars Wirzenius, der.hans likes this.

    Elena ``of Valhalla'', Lars Wirzenius, Mike Linksvayer shared this.

  • Recap: GPL Compliance BoF at Linux Plumbers’ Conference

    2016-11-17T12:32:17Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    Also covered on LWN at:

    November 16, 2016 by Brett Smith

    Recap: GPL Compliance BoF at Linux Plumbers’ Conference

    At the Linux Plumbers Conference a couple of weeks ago, Karen and I ran a Birds of a Feather session about our GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers. It was a success by every measure. Approximately seventy people attended, and about twenty of them participated in the discussion, covering a wide variety of issues around compliance. The interactive and inclusive format was ideal for us to provide additional information and get feedback from a lot of interested people. Many thanks to the Linux Plumbers Organizing Committee for scheduling a slot for us to run this session.

    We opened the discussion with a basic overview of the program: its history and mission, the structure of how we coordinate with Linux developers on our coalition, the typical flow of how we respond to a violation and work to help the distributor comply. We published the project agreement templates beforehand to facilitate the discussion. In the past, we heard people express concern that these agreements were private. We were happy to tackle that issue head-on, and I was glad to see several attendees download the template and review it during the session.

    We also talked about how our work differs from some inappropriately aggressive enforcement efforts going on today—including Patrick McHardy's unfortunate enforcement lawsuits. One person rightly pointed out that less savvy distributors will often assume all GPL compliance is handled the same way. We discussed how Conservancy could emphasize the distinctions up front. We agree that's important; it's why we published our Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement, and why we were the first organization to publicly criticize McHardy's actions. Still, a new Linux distributor might not know about our principles, or understand that they specifically call on lawsuits only as a last resort. Based on this feedback, we plan to mention the Principles in our first correspondence about GPL compliance problems.

    Our transparency in our methods and goals distinguishes Conservancy's compliance work from others'. There were several suggestions that we could take this further by publishing different numbers about how many cases we're handling, and different ways they've been resolved. To this end, Karen echoed the same point Bradley made at ELC EU that we only have the resources to pursue a relatively small percentage of the violation reports we receive. Because of this, publishing these numbers could de-anonymize active cases, which would contravene our compliance principles. Nonetheless, we will reexamine this issue to see if we could publish some numbers safely.

    That discussion led to suggestions that volunteers could help us with technical compliance work, confirming violations and the completeness of source code. We've discussed that idea internally for many years. Even more than publishing numbers, engaging volunteers risks leaking information about violators to the public. Furthermore, we would need to vet and train volunteers, which we lack the resources to do now. If we received funding for this work, we could use that to plan and provide volunteer training, but there has been limited interest in funding community-oriented compliance initiatives.

    Finally, we discussed different ways to make compliance work less necessary. We'd love to see more of this: as more distributors proactively come into compliance, we have more time to spend supporting our member projects and other initiatives. That's a big reason we helped write the Copyleft Guide, which helps distributors better understand the conditions and requirements of the GPL. The pristine source example, in particular, is designed to show step-by-step the process of verifying a complete, corresponding source release. There's certainly lots of great ideas for more work like this, and I think naming them in the BoF helped make some good connections between them.

    Our thanks to everyone who attended and provided feedback. If you couldn't attend this BoF, don't worry. We'll be running similar sessions at other conferences over the next few months, and you can also provide feedback on our principles-discuss mailing list. We want to hear from as much of the community as possible, so if you have questions or comments about our Linux compliance work, we hope we'll hear from you soon.

    Posted by Brett Smith on November 16, 2016. Please email any comments on this entry to

    der.hans, Face likes this.

    der.hans shared this.

  • Conservancy Promotes Transparency by Publishing Template Agreements for Linux Compliance Program

    2016-11-03T18:22:26Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    Conservancy Promotes Transparency by Publishing Template Agreements for Linux Compliance Program

    Discussion Invited at Second Feedback Session on GPL Enforcement

    Today at the Linux Plumbers Conference, Software Freedom Conservancy hosts its second feedback session on the GPL Compliance Program for Linux Developers. These sessions, which Conservancy is hosting at relevant events over the next year and summarizing for public review, will seek input and ideas from the Linux community about GPL enforcement, answer questions, and plan strategies to deal with GPL enforcement actions that do not follow Conservancy's Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement.

    The publication of the template agreements ([1], [2]) demonstrates Conservancy's commitment to transparency. The documents have a similar structure as Conservancy's agreements with its member projects, designed to work at the service of the coalition. They include an easy termination provision, requiring just thirty days' notice at any time. Because the aim of Conservancy's compliance work is to avoid litigation, no lawsuits may be initiated without further explicit agreement.

    Two versions of the template agreement are provided. The anonymous agreement includes a clause binding Conservancy to not disclose the identity of the participant. This clause was directly requested by Linux contributors who fear repercussions from their employers or other community members who oppose GPL enforcement. Conservancy designed this version to respect the wishes of those who want to help ensure the future of copyleft, but are not prepared to face public attacks from those who oppose copyleft.

    Karen Sandler, who will co-host today's session at the Plumbers Conference, noted the importance of designing agreements that adhere to the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement. The agreements empower developers to direct and control Conservancy's enforcement actions. While the Principles allow for recovery of costs, the terms ensure that developers direct how such funds are spent. Karen noted, however, While the agreement sets out how money received through any compliance actions is divided, to date no amounts have been received under this initiative.

    Conservancy is publishing these agreements today as background for the enforcement feedback session at 6:00 PM Mountain Time at the Linux Plumbers Conference 2016. Conservancy's Executive Director, Karen Sandler, and Director of Strategic Initiatives, Brett Smith, will host the session, and all conference attendees are welcome to join the discussion. Conservancy will also take feedback on the agreements over its mailing list for discussion of the GPL enforcement principles and at feedback sessions at other conferences over the coming months.

    Conservancy, as always, recommends that anyone who is contemplating signing an agreement consult legal counsel about their own specific situation prior to doing so.

    Jason Self, Christopher Allan Webber, Mike Linksvayer likes this.

    Christopher Allan Webber, Mike Linksvayer shared this.

  • Free as in Freedom 0x5E: Conservancy's ContractPatch Initiative

    2016-11-01T22:01:19Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    On Free as in Freedom 0x5E, Bradley and Karen discuss Conservancy's

    ContractPatch Initiative that will help Free Software developers negotiate

    their agreements with employers. Do you think that developers should have

    the tools to ensure they can decide the licensing of their own work in the

    Open Source and Free Software community? Take a listen and see what you think!

    Ben Sturmfels likes this.

    der.hans shared this.

  • Conservancy's First GPL Enforcement Feedback Session

    2016-10-27T21:33:27Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers

    October 27, 2016 by Bradley M. Kuhn

    As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I had the privilege of attending Embedded Linux Conference Europe (ELC EU) and the OpenWrt Summit in Berlin, Germany earlier this month. I gave a talk (for which the video is available below) at the OpenWrt Summit. I also had the opportunity to host the first of many conference sessions seeking feedback and input from the Linux developer community about Conservancy's GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers.

    ELC EU has no “BoF Board” where you can post informal sessions. So, we scheduled the session by word of mouth over a lunch hour. We nevertheless got an good turnout (given that our session's main competition was eating food :) of about 15 people.

    Most notably and excitingly, Harald Welte, well-known Netfilter developer and leader of, was able to attend. Harald talked about his work with enforcing his own copyrights in Linux, and explained why this was important work for users of the violating devices. He also pointed out that some of the companies that were sued during his most active period of are now regular upstream contributors.

    Two people who work in the for-profit license compliance industry attended as well. Some of the discussion focused on usual debates that charities involved in compliance commonly have with the for-profit compliance industry. Specifically, one of them asked how much compliance is enough, by percentage? I responded to his question on two axes. First, I addressed the axis of how many enforcement matters does the GPL Compliance Program for Linux Developers do, by percentage of products violating the GPL? There are, at any given time, hundreds of documented GPL violating products, and our coalition works on only a tiny percentage of those per year. It's a sad fact that only that tiny percentage of the products that violate Linux are actually pursued to compliance.

    On the other axis, I discussed the percentage on a per-product basis. From that point of view, the question is really: Is there a ‘close enough to compliance’ that we can as a community accept and forget about the remainder? From my point of view, we frequently compromise anyway, since the GPL doesn't require someone to prepare code properly for upstream contribution. Thus, we all often accept compliance once someone completes the bare minimum of obligations literally written in the GPL, but give us a source release that cannot easily be converted to an upstream contribution. So, from that point of view, we're often accepting a less-than-optimal outcome. The GPL by itself does not inspire upstreaming; the other collaboration techniques that are enabled in our community because of the GPL work to finish that job, and adherence to the Principles assures that process can work. Having many people who work with companies in different ways assures that as a larger community, we try all the different strategies to encourage participation, and inspire today's violators to become tomorrow upstream contributors — as Harald mention has already often happened.

    That same axis does include on rare but important compliance problem: when a violator is particularly savvy, and refuses to release very specific parts of their Linux code (as VMware did), even though the license requires it. In those cases, we certainly cannot and should not accept anything less than required compliance — lest companies begin holding back all the most interesting parts of the code that GPL requires them to produce. If that happened, the GPL would cease to function correctly for Linux.

    After that part of the discussion, we turned to considerations of corporate contributors, and how they responded to enforcement. Wolfram Sang, one of the developers in Conservancy's coalition, spoke up on this point. He expressed that the focus on for-profit company contributions, and the achievements of those companies, seemed unduly prioritized by some in the community. As an independent contractor and individual developer, Wolfram believes that contributions from people like him are essential to a diverse developer base, that their opinions should be taken into account, and their achievements respected.

    I found Wolfram's points particularly salient. My view is that Free Software development, including for Linux, succeeds because both powerful and wealthy entities and individuals contribute and collaborate together on equal footing. While companies have typically only enforce the GPL on their own copyrights for business reasons (e.g., there is at least one example of a major Linux-contributing company using GPL enforcement merely as a counter-punch in a patent lawsuit), individual developers who join Conservancy's coalition follow community principles and enforce to defend the rights of their users.

    At the end of the session, I asked two developers who hadn't spoken during the session, and who aren't members of Conservancy's coalition their opinion on how enforcement was historically carried out by, and how it is currently carried out by Conservancy's GPL Compliance Program for Linux Developers. Both responded with a simple response (paraphrased): it seems like a good thing to do; keep doing it!

    I finished up the session by inviting everyone to the join the principles-discuss list, where public discussion about GPL enforcement under the Principles has already begun. I also invited everyone to attend my talk, that took place an hour later at the OpenWrt Summit, which was co-located with ELC EU. Your browser does not support the element. Perhaps you can or .

    In that talk, I spoke about a specific example of community success in GPL enforcement. As explained on the OpenWrt history page, OpenWrt was initially made possible thanks to GPL enforcement done by BusyBox and Linux contributors in a coalition together. (Those who want to hear more about the connection between GPL enforcement and OpenWrt can view my talk at )

    Since there weren't opportunities to promote impromptu sessions on-site, this event was a low-key (but still quite nice) start to Conservancy's planned year-long effort seeking feedback about GPL compliance and enforcement. Our next session is an official BoF session at Linux Plumbers Conference, scheduled for next Thursday 3 November at 18:00. It will be led by my colleagues Karen Sandler and Brett Smith.

    Posted by Bradley M. Kuhn on October 27, 2016.

    Yutaka Niibe, kenyahhtah, Hubert Figuière, Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

    der.hans, Christopher Allan Webber shared this.

  • ContractPatch, Step 2: Understanding the power balance

    2016-09-26T15:39:47Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    September 26, 2016 by Karen Sandler

    ContractPatch, Step 2: Understanding the power balance

    Employment agreements are one of the things that I'm asked the most regularly about in the free and open source software world, almost rivaling questions about licenses. My responses have always been the usual lawyerly responses of This Is Not Legal Advice and while I Am A Lawyer, I Am Not Your Lawyer (I'm generally not acting as a lawyer on behalf of Conservancy as its Executive Director either). But even from my early days of being involved with free software, I have seen that there's a lack of understanding about employment agreements and the ability of employees to get their agreements modified. Last month, Fred announced a new initiative that we are working on together, called ContractPatch. With ContractPatch, our goal is to help provide knowledge to employees, along with sample language for better contract terms. The first step in this process is understanding the dynamics at work in employment arrangements. Step 1 is knowing that everything is negotiable and step 2 is knowing where you stand in the negotiation. Quite simply, you likely will never have as much power as you do the moment just before you sign your employment agreement.

    At the point you are presented with a job offer, your prospective employer really wants to hire you. Chances are, they've screened and interviewed a number of candidates and put a lot of work into the process. Your manager has thought deeply about who they want in the position and has probably imagined how it will all work out with you in the role. Both you and the hiring decision-maker(s) are probably very optimistic about what you'll accomplish in the role and how well you'll get along working together. At this point, no one wants to go back to the drawing board and start the process over again. You will be excited to start the new job but it's worth taking a step back to appreciate the unusual position you are in with your new employer.

    As part of the hiring process, you'll be expected to negotiate your salary (this can be complicated) and finalize all of the terms of your employment. Terms of employment can also be looked at through the lens of compensation, and asking for more favorable terms in your employment contract can be another kind of perk an employer can give you if they have a tight budget. A classic contract negotiation tactic (I even learned this in law school) is to make an agreement stronger in the first draft than you really need it to be, just so that you can give something away when pushed. This is certainly true of many company's standard agreement templates. The only way to find out is to ask.

    Once you take the job, it's harder to change your terms of employment (though it's possible, as we'll cover later). Think hard about the long term impact of signing the agreement and whether things could happen down the road that would make you feel less comfortable with working under those terms. We'll be giving you some examples of situations you want to be prepared for when we talk about specific contract provisions.

    Asking for more favorable terms doesn't have to be an adversarial process. You can ask for an agreement to be amended in a friendly way. Employers often respect workers more when they advocate for themselves.

    So, we'll help you think about how to engage with your employer while anticipating things that could go wrong down the road and how to ask for more favorable terms. You can sign up for our mailing list to be part of the conversation. While it may be easier to avoid negotiating your agreement, don't trade short term comfort for your long term benefit.

    Posted by Karen Sandler on September 26, 2016. Please email any comments on this entry to

    Christopher Allan Webber, Mike Linksvayer, mnd, Charles Stanhope likes this.

    Christopher Allan Webber, der.hans, Mike Linksvayer shared this.

  • Help Send Conservancy to Embedded Linux Conference Europe

    2016-09-21T21:37:26Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    September 21, 2016 by Bradley M. Kuhn

    Help Send Conservancy to Embedded Linux Conference Europe

    Last month, Conservancy made a public commitment to attend Linux-related events to get feedback from developers about our work generally, and Conservancy's GPL Compliance Program for Linux Developers specifically. As always, even before that, we were regularly submitting talks to nearly any event with Linux in its name. As a small charity, we always request travel funding from the organizers, who are often quite gracious. As I mentioned in my blog posts about LCA 2016 and GUADEC 2016, the organizers covered my travel funding there, and recently both Karen and I both received travel funding to speak at LCA 2017 and DebConf 2016, as well as many other events this year.

    Recently, I submitted talks for the CFPs of Linux Foundation's Embedded Linux Conference Europe (ELC EU) and the Prpl Foundation's OpenWRT Summit. The latter was accepted, and the folks at the Prpl Foundation graciously offered to fund my flight costs to speak at the OpenWRT Summit! I've never spoken at an OpenWRT event before and I'm looking forward to the opportunity getting to know the OpenWRT and LEDE communities better by speaking at that event, and am excited to discuss Conservancy's work with them.

    OpenWRT Summit, while co-located, is a wholly separate event from LF's ELC EU. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky in my talk submissions there: my talk proposal has been waitlisted since July. I was hopeful after a talk cancellation in mid-August. (I know because the speaker who canceled suggested that I request his slot for my waitlisted talk.) Unfortunately, the LF staff informed me that they understandably filled his open slot with a sponsored session that came in.

    The good news is that my OpenWRT Summit flight is booked, and my friend (and Conservancy Board Member Emeritus) Loïc Dachary (who lives in Berlin) has agreed to let me crash with him for that week. So, I'll be in town for the entirety of ELC EU with almost no direct travel costs to Conservancy! The bad news is that it seems my ELC EU talk remains waitlisted. Therefore, I don't have a confirmed registration for the rest of ELC EU (beyond OpenWRT Summit).

    While it seems like a perfect and cost-effective opportunity to be able to attend both events, that seems harder than I thought! Once I confirmed my OpenWRT Summit travel arrangements, I asked for the hobbyist discount to register for ELC EU, but LF staff informed me yesterday that the hobbyist (as well as the other discounts) are sold out. The moral of the story is that logistics are just plain tough and time-consuming when you work for a charity with an extremely limited travel budget. ☻

    Yet, it seems a shame to waste the opportunity of being in town with so many Linux developers and not being able to see or talk to them, so Conservancy is asking for some help from you to fund the $680 of my registration costs for ELC EU. That's just about six new Conservancy supporter signups, so I hope we can get six new Supporters before Linux Foundation's ELC EU conference begins on October 10th. Either way, I look forward to seeing those developers who attend the co-located OpenWRT Summit! And, if the logistics work out — perhaps I'll see you at ELC EU as well!

    Posted by Bradley M. Kuhn on September 21, 2016. Please email any comments on this entry to

    der.hans likes this.

    der.hans shared this.

  • Free as in Freedom, Episode 0x5D

    2016-09-21T19:54:55Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers

    On Free as in Freedom, Episode 0x5D, Bradley and Karen discuss various Conservancy trips to conferences during the first half of 2016:

  • Watch Karen Sandler keynote Stanford Medicine X conference today at 18:02 UTC!

    2016-09-16T16:18:19Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers

    Conservancy's Executive Director, Karen Sandler, will deliver a keynote today at Stanford's Medicine X conference about software freedom in medical devices:

    You can watch a livestream of her talk via the livestream URL:

    at 11:02 AM US/Pacific (18:02 UTC, 2:02PM US/Eastern) today, 16 September 2016.

    (Note that the livestream may require proprietary Javascript, but we've confirmed the stream is working with Free Software browsers on Debian GNU/Linux.)

    der.hans, Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

    der.hans, Christopher Allan Webber shared this.

  • 0x5C: Basic FLOSS Concepts: Licensing 101

    2016-09-02T16:47:08Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    Bradley and Karen give a basic introduction of copyright licensing of Open Source and Free Software.

    This show was released on Friday 2 September 2016; its running time is 01:02:03.

    der.hans, Francisco M García Claramonte, Charles Stanhope, mray INACTIVE and 5 others likes this.

    der.hans, Marcelo Santana, Marcelo Santana, Lars Wirzenius and 1 others shared this.

    So you weren't joking when you said you'd have a more regular schedule :-) Nice!

    sazius at 2016-09-02T16:51:02Z

    mray INACTIVE, Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    (offtopic, you need a new avatar. Apparently yours was still hosted at domain :p)

    JanKusanagi at 2016-09-03T12:17:15Z

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

  • Linus says: you deserve the choice to enforce the GPL

    2016-08-23T17:15:32Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers

    Linus Torvalds of the Linux Foundation says: if you wrote code in Linux, you deserve the choice to enforce the GPL.,-no-lows-linus-torvalds-on-25-years-of-linux.html

    mnd, Lars Wirzenius, Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

  • Brett Smith Joins Conservancy as Director of Strategic Initiatives

    2016-08-22T17:45:53Z via Dianara To: Public CC: Followers


    Brett Smith Joins Conservancy as Director of Strategic Initiatives

    Free software advocate brings longtime community focus with expertise in licensing and software development

    Software Freedom Conservancy is pleased to announce the addition of Brett Smith as its Director of Strategic Initiatives. Brett will be Conservancy's fourth full-time staffer, and will contribute to the organization's charitable mission on several wide-ranging fronts — from software development, to systems administration, to organizational operations, to logistics. Brett will contribute to FLOSS projects that support Conservancy's infrastructure, including leading Conservancy's NPO Accounting Project. Brett will also provide Conservancy's member projects with additional support and mentorship, and will strengthen the public voice of the organization.

    We had an overwhelming response to our job posting, with a lot of exceptional applicants said Karen Sandler, Conservancy's Executive Director.After a careful hiring process, we're thrilled to hire Brett. He's demonstrated an impressive commitment to software freedom and has the talent to fill so many of the roles that Conservancy needs.

    I'm excited to join Conservancy, commented Brett. The organization's work has already brought tremendous benefits to the entire FLOSS community. I'm eager to work full time on initiatives like the NPO Accounting project to address needs that free software hasn't met yet.

    Brett brings to Conservancy fourteen years of experience as a free software advocate and software developer. Prior to joining Conservancy, Brett worked as a software engineer and FLOSS project maintainer for Curoverse, and as a systems engineer for the World Wide Web Consortium. Brett also further adds to Conservancy's expertise with free software license compliance: as the Free Software Foundation's License Compliance Engineer, he gained experience in managing copyleft license compliance matters, and has written and given talks on the subject. Brett's full bio is available.

    Yutaka Niibe, Mike Linksvayer, der.hans, Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) and 1 others likes this.

    Mike Linksvayer, der.hans, Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Christopher Allan Webber shared this.

    WOW! What an amazing fit! Brett is so great!

    Christopher Allan Webber at 2016-08-22T17:59:56Z

    I'm not very familiar with FSF circles, but a previous FSF compliance engineer sounds like a great addition to the team.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2016-08-22T19:39:04Z

    (offtopic: you need a new avatar. Old one was still hosted at, domain which has now expired)

    JanKusanagi at 2016-08-22T20:49:37Z

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    awesome!  congratulations to Brett and to SFC for the great match!

    Alexandre Oliva at 2016-08-23T01:28:52Z