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Catch up with Conservancy at the Southeast Linuxfest this Weekend!

by Deb Nicholson on June 5, 2018

Conservancy's Director of Community Outreach, Deb Nicholson, will appear this weekend at Southeast Linuxfest (SELF) on Saturday morning at 10:15am. Her presentation, “FOSS Governance: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” will cover do's and don'ts for setting up sustainable governance for small and medium-sized FOSS projects. The sessions will also be livestreamed for the first time this year.

Conservancy will also have a table at SELF on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So, if you're attending the 10th anniversary of SELF in Charlotte this weekend, be sure to swing by and say hello!

SELF is a community conference dedicated to providing a forum for locals folks to learn more about free and open source software. It's also a great opportunity for us to talk about our work with some new folks. If you're able to help us at the table; hanging out with other Conservancy supporters, talking to attendees about the Conservancy and giving out stickers, please contact us at <supporters@sfconservancy.org> — Thanks!

Tags: conservancy, events

Conservancy and Bro Announce End to Bro's Member Project Status

by Conservancy + Bro LT on June 4, 2018

Software Freedom Conservancy, a charity that provides a home to free and open source software projects, and the Bro Leadership Team announce that the Bro Project, an open source network traffic analysis framework, will end its status as a Conservancy member project.

During its time with Conservancy the Bro project successfully raised funds and spent them effectively to support the community. For example, Conservancy helped Bro manage a substantial MOSS grant, which created an ecosystem for Bro community contributions through the new Bro package manager & repository. Conservancy also supported three conferences as well as smaller workshops, helped acquire trademarks for the project, and assisted in many other ways. In recognition of all of this work, the Bro Leadership Team is donating $10,000 to the Conservancy’s general fund to aid them in their ongoing efforts to promote and support software freedom and provide a home to other member projects.

The mutual decision for Bro to leave Conservancy is a result of the changing nature of Bro’s community of core contributors, and the diminished fit between the rapidly growing project and Conservancy’s charitable goals and corresponding services. Conservancy will assist Bro moving back to the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI)—the project’s previous home for more than a decade.

When the Bro project first joined Conservancy more than three years ago, the project was primarily a collaboration between two different academic institutions: ICSI and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). At that time, Bro’s development was funded mostly through substantial awards by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), who set out to advance Bro into a powerful security tool for the nation’s education environments and scientific institutions.

Today, the Bro community looks different. With the NSF funding winding down, the team at the NCSA that heavily contributed to Bro for nearly a decade has significantly reduced their work on the project. Most of the core team of Bro is now affiliated with Corelight, placing the company at the center of Bro’s future development—which mismatches Conservancy’s charitable mission. While Bro’s strong footing in the academic community remains, the Bro user community overall has expanded from the public sector to the private sector. This shift has also been reflected in Bro conference attendance. These successes and rapid changes have led to an evolution of the project such that its trajectory is less of an apt match to Conservancy’s goals and services.

Going forward, ICSI will once again provide the Bro Leadership Team with asset and financial management as the project moves into a new phase of its life cycle. The Bro Leadership Team will continue to steer the project’s overall direction as an independent entity working in the best interest of Bro’s large and diverse open-source community, and Conservancy is fully committed to helping Bro transition smoothly to its new home.

Tags: conservancy, Member Projects

Update on Trademark Action (Fraud Claim Dismissed, New Filing)

by Bradley M. Kuhn on April 30, 2018

As per our commitment to transparency, here's a brief update on the trademark action we have discussed previously.

On Thursday, the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (TTAB) dismissed SFLC's claim of fraud against Conservancy, as we predicted.

This sensible ruling is just the next step of many; the suit will proceed at the usual near-glacial pace of litigation. On Friday, we moved to the next procedural step, which is to ask the TTAB to allow us to update our answer as planned.

We continue steadfast in our previous position: the entire matter remains a waste of resources for both organizations, and SFLC should do the honorable and right thing and simply withdraw their complaint.

Tags: conservancy

Conservancy at LibrePlanet 2018

by Molly deBlanc on March 22, 2018

March 24-25th hundreds of free software activists, community managers, hackers, legal experts, and all around fans will meet in Cambridge, MA for LibrePlanet 2018, the Free Software Foundation's annual conference and members meeting.

In addition to everything else happening there, Conservancy's own Bradley Kuhn, Brett Smith, Karen Sandler, and Denver Gingerich -- our part-time compliance engineer -- will all be speaking.

Topics covered include copyleft, the usibility of the GPL, medical devices, and free software in business.

  • State of the copyleft union
    Bradley Kuhn, Distinguished Technologist

    The license-importance divide seems almost generational: the older generation cares about licenses, and the younger generation does not. Yet, the historical focus on licensing in FLOSS, while occasionally prone to pedantry to a degree only developers can love, stemmed from serious governance considerations regarding how community members interact.

    Copyleft was invented to solve the many problems of project governance, assuring the rights of users and creating equal footing for all contributors. The licensing infrastructure today also has increased in complexity, with proprietary relicensing business models, excessive use of CLAs, and tricky clauses on top of existing licenses.

    Given this climate, how do we understand if copyleft is succeeding? This talk explores historical motivations and modern reactions to these licensing matters, and digs into understanding how policies have impacted Free Software communities for both good and ill.

  • A usability study of the GPL
    Brett Smith, Director of Strategic Initiatives

    We want software creators to use the GPL and its cousin licenses. We also know that people make mistakes in the process, or don’t even try because they’ve heard it’s "too complicated." Just as we do when we develop software, we would do well to study these failures and use them as opportunities to improve the usability of the GPL. This talk aims to start that process by identifying some known problems and considering some possible solutions. (None of these solutions are a new version of the license!)

  • Copyleft, Diversity & Critical Infrastructure
    Karen Sandler, Executive Director

    GPL enforcement and Outreachy are the two most visible and controversial programs that Conservancy undertakes. In this talk, Karen will explore how the programs fit together in the context of software freedom generally. Karen will review her work around medical devices and critical infrastructure and show how seemingly disparate initiatives fit into a single advocacy narrative.

  • Freedom, devices, and health
    Mad Price Ball, Rachel Kalmar, Dana Lewis, Karen Sandler

    When it comes to health, freedom is literally visceral. How do the principles of freedom apply to the devices used for medicine, health, and wellness? Moderated by Mad Price Ball, a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow, this panel introduces leaders that bridge industry, community, and individual experiences. Rachel Kalmar (Berkman Klein Center), uses her experience with sensors and wearables to confront how devices and their data interact with a larger ecosystem. Dana Lewis (OpenAPS) connects us to health communities, and her work with the Nightscout project and patient-led efforts in type 1 diabetes. Karen Sandler (Software Freedom Conservancy) shares her experience as an individual with a device close to her heart: a defibrillator she uses, as a matter of life or death -- and she cannot get the source code to it. Join us to learn about how freedom matters for devices in health.

  • In business: Keeping free software sustainable
    Denver Gingerich, Compliance Engineer

    Starting a business is a big decision, and choosing to share its results with the world is perhaps bigger still. Denver started JMP early last year, and faced this very choice, deciding to release all of JMP's code as free software and to charge money to use the instance he runs. In this session, Denver will describe why he chose to build a free software business, and will discuss the details of the business model he arrived at, alongside other business models for free software companies.

    Few contributors are paid to work on free software today, and far fewer are paid by non-profit organizations (or even by small businesses). It is imperative for us to explore how we can sell free software, especially through non-profits and small businesses, so we can bring freedom to more people and, just as importantly, build sustainable futures for our contributors.

More information is available on the LibrePlanet 2018 website.

Organized by the FSF, LibrePlanet is focused entirely on user freedom. We hope to see you there, in our talks or at the Conservancy booth in the exhibit hall.

Tags: conservancy, conferences

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