Joint Statement by Free Software Foundation Europe and Software Freedom Conservancy Regarding Eben Moglen and Software Freedom Law Center
October 11, 2023
Both Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) are committed to defending and expanding software freedom and the rights of people to use, understand, share and improve their software.
As part of this work, both FSFE and SFC strive to create a software freedom community that is egalitarian, fair, kind, and welcoming to everyone. Sadly, though, we are also aware that toxic behavior, bullying, and other violations of Codes of Conduct do occur throughout our community. As such, both organizations make substantial efforts to protect our volunteers and staff from bad behavior.
Historically, both FSFE and SFC collaborated and coordinated with a third organization — Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), and specifically with SFLC's founder/President/Executive Director, Eben Moglen. However, some time ago, both our organizations ended our collaborations and affiliations with SFLC. Furthermore, both FSFE and SFC now have internal policies to avoid any situations where our employees or volunteers might work directly with him.
We arrived at these decisions through our organizational processes. After years of reported abusive behavior by Eben Moglen toward members of the staff and volunteers of both organizations, each organization independently made a categorical rule that we would avoid Eben Moglen and not invite him to our events and fora. (Examples of reports of his behavior — towards SFC staff (page 8), FSFE staff (page 51), and others (page 28) — have been (with reluctance) documented publicly in the proceedings of the ongoing trademark cancellation petition that SFLC filed against SFC in the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.)
Today, we share — with the community at large — our policy to not work with Eben Moglen or SFLC. We have chosen to speak publicly on this matter because we feel we have an obligation to warn volunteers and activists in software freedom that this pattern of reported behavior exists. Of course, everyone should read the publicly available source materials and make their own decisions regarding these matters. While we are loathe to publicly speak of these unfortunate events, the decades of ongoing reports of abusive behavior — and the risk that behavior creates for unknowing members of the Free Software community — ultimately requires that we no longer remain quiet on this issue.
Abusive behavior is a distraction from the mission of any activist organization. We urge everyone to separate themselves as best they can from such behavior (and from those who tolerate and/or employ it), and focus on the important work of increasing software freedom.