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Software Freedom Conservancy, Inc.
137 MONTAGUE ST STE 380
BROOKLYN, NY 11201-3548 USA
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Software Freedom needs your help.
Conservancy is continuing its shift towards being a Supporter-driven organization so we can focus on critical free software issues. Support our great member projects, stand up for the GPL, and make your voice heard in support of free software. We're counting on you. Donate today!
Software is critical to all of our infrastructure and as a society, we are deeply reliant on the software we use. Making sure our software is free and open assures that tomorrow we can still use those solutions we invest in today. Software freedom is fundamental — we need it in order to effectively solve our problems in the long term. While the world today is powered increasingly by free software, many people don't realize is how much support is needed to keep all of these projects free and open. The work that we do every day ensures the success and the continued freedom of the projects. Our developers dedicate themselves to improving our member projects, and we enable them to do that. This includes projects like Git, Samba, Wine, BusyBox, QEMU, Inkscape, Selenium, and dozens more.
We are asking for you to join us as a Conservancy Supporter. Last year, over 1,000 of you became annual Supporters, allowing us to continue our basic operations. We still need 2,500 (total) annual Supporters to continue our full range of operations through 2017. If you don't become a Supporter now, we will be forced to reduce our program activities going forward.
Software Freedom Conservancy has had a lot of major successes this year:
- We brought three new projects under the protection of Conservancy: LibreHealth, a critical initiative for health in free and open source software, Spec-Ops, a project dedicated to creating of open standards in critical areas, including payments and identity and Homebrew, a software package manager for Apple's OS X.
- We supported the lawsuit Christoph Hellwig brought against VMware in Germany, the first case on derivative works and the GPL. Christoph's case continues on appeal.
- We helped Conservancy projects Bro, Buildbot, and Godot receive Mozilla MOSS grants. Another Conservancy project, phpMyAdmin, successfully completed a thorough security audit as part of Mozilla's Secure Open Source Fund (no serious issues were found!).
- We received an assignment of copyrights from the Yorba Foundation, including Shotwell and Geary, in order to safeguard those copyrights for the future.
- We conducted friendly discussions with companies out of compliance with the GPL, seeking non-litigious resolutions in accordance with our Principles. We published our template agreements and held two feedback sessions to evaluate and improve our compliance efforts. We also worked with other community members to bring clarity to international activities around GPL compliance and help make the ecosystem safer for free software adoption. We stayed committed to providing straightforward analysis about the GPL.
- Our Executive Director, Karen Sandler, testified to the New York City Council Committee on Contracts in favor of the Free and Open Source Software Act and the Civic Commons Act which would increase the use of free and open source software by New York City departments and agencies. Karen later in the year also taught kids in London about free software.
- We launched a new initiative called ContractPatch to help provide information and understanding about employment agreements.
- We published “Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Compliance” in Chinese, thanks to a translation by Kaiyuanshe.
- We commented on the OpenChain specification to help make sure that the initiative by companies to collaboratively come up with standards and shared materials around compliance also meets community expectations about how compliance obligations are satisfied.
- We supported, helped coordinate, and financially backed volunteers from our member projects to organize seven conferences in three continents, where thousands of attendees learned about free and open source software.
- We processed and paid reimbursement requests to individuals doing work around the globe advocating for their free and open source software projects at conferences and other venues. We also paid contractors to improve our projects' software.
- We gave keynotes at OSCON EU, BroCon, the NextCloud conference>, GUADEC, OpenSym 2016, Debconf, OSS 2016, LibrePlanet, OpenWest and participated many more conferences all over the world. We also shared our expertise in initiatives like copyleft.org. We gave interviews, published blog posts, and Bradley and Karen released episodes of Free as in Freedom, all dedicated to discussing the important issues in software freedom.
And we did all of this with a tiny staff of only four full time employees.
We are focused on the most important ethical issues in software freedom. We work tirelessly and don't shy away from difficult issues.
We're a unique organization — a staunch defender of copyleft (for Linux, Debian, and many of our member projects), a source of education and champions of diversity for the community via Outreachy and other programs, and are the legal home to 40 member projects that are essential to developing free software.
We undertake these critical programs because they are essential to the future of technology. We do them because they are right. But we cannot do them without you. Last year you helped us to fundraising goals that didn't merely keep us running, but even funded hiring of a new employee. Yet even this staffing level isn't enough to handle our existing workload.
Our fiscal sponsorship model is not financially self-sustaining by itself: we cannot afford even one staff member and basic overhead with the revenue we take in from our projects. With over 1,000 Supporters, we can now sustain the basic work and we will survive. But to thrive, and handle the really complex tasks like copyright and licensing advice, and license compliance, we need even more resources. That's why our final target remains 2,500 Supporters. If you use or care about our member projects, which include some of the most widely used free software, you can help them all by signing up as a Supporter today.
Fighting for the GPL
Many consider our GPL compliance and enforcement controversial. We don't think it is: we stand up for the GPL at the request of our member projects, the Debian community, and members of the Linux kernel community. Most recently, that has resulted in our funding of the suit against VMware, which is the first lawsuit on derivative works and the GPL. (Christoph's case continues on appeal.) While this work is extremely important to the continued long-term success of software freedom and copyleft (not to mention in the long-term interest of the industry as a whole) it makes fundraising from companies very difficult. Some companies have ceased funding us and some have even successfully pressured conferences to cancel or prevent talks on our compliance work. We do this work because we think that it is good for everyone in the long run, because we know it is the right thing to do, and because we know that we are in the best position to do it. But that's not enough — you have to think it's right too and show us by becoming a Supporter now.
It's up to you
Conservancy is deeply committed to supporting, promoting, developing, and defending free and open source software. We pursue our mission on various fronts, and we're proud of what we've been able to accomplish in 2016. To do even more in 2017 and in the years to come, we need your help.
We believe 2017 will be a critical year for Conservancy, our member projects, and our work. We look forward to making huge strides in providing software tools for public charities as well as services for developer communities. We will continue to champion the rights of the public and the interests of copyright holders who have licensed their contributions to the commons for the public's benefit. We will continue to host and speak at conferences, create and maintain educational resources, and raise awareness about how free and open source software is essential to a free and open society.
While we appreciate our corporate donors, we simply cannot depend solely on grants from companies who may not find our mission to be compatible with shifting corporate strategies. We need you, the public, as well. Simply put, we need 2,500 Supporters in order to maintain our staff, continue to provide a full range of administrative, bookkeeping, and legal services to our member projects, educate the public, and undertake compliance efforts. We hope you will sign up as a Supporter to help us achieve this. If we don't reach our goal, we will have no choice but to hibernate some of our activities — likely our compliance efforts — until we have the resources to resume them properly at some point in the future.
If you care about Conservancy's mission, help us meet our goal so we can stand up for software freedom together.
Please join our Supporter program and spread the word!