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Título: Support the FSF Licensing Team & its volunteers; Your donation counts double!- Enlace 1

Texto del artículo:

Support the FSF Licensing Team & its volunteers






by
Donald Robertson


Contributions








Published on

Dec 14, 2016 03:44 PM


















Supporting the Free Software Foundation (FSF) grows the
roots that support the work of thousands of volunteers all around
the globe.


















As software permeates more and more aspects of society, the FSF
must expand our work to protect and extend computer user
freedom
. We launched our annual fundraiser with the goal of
welcoming 500 new members and raising $450,000 before December 31st.
Please support the work at the root of the free software movement:
make a donation or – better yet – join us and become a member
today
. Now is a great time to give, because the next $10,000 in
donations will be generously matched by longtime dedicated FSF and
GNU supporters Cristian and Andreea Francu. Your donation counts
double!


Licensing support is one of the major services we provide here at
the FSF. With over 30 years of experience, and being the creators
and guardians of free software licenses like the GNU General Public
License (GPL), we have a long history as the organization that
hackers, companies, and governments turn to when they need help with
licensing issues. We provide necessary services and tools to
enable individuals, communities, and companies to become better free
software citizens. Our work includes answering licensing questions
from the public, managing certification programs like Respects Your
Freedom
, upholding the GPL and other free software licenses, and
providing resources like our list of free software licenses,
and GPL FAQ.


The FSF is a growing organization with 13 employees today. Every one
of those employees supports a large network of volunteers and
contributors, magnifying our impact. That is particularly true in
the licensing department, where we organize volunteers from all over
the world. In many ways one of our main jobs is facilitating the
work of our volunteers. Without their efforts, we'd only be able to
do a fraction of the work the free software movement needs from us.


Answering questions from the public


We have a team of licensing volunteers who help answer
questions from the community. This small group of licensing veterans
works closely with FSF staff. We meet with them regularly via IRC to
discuss difficult questions, and to double-check that we're always
giving the right information to requesters. Our volunteers also
review licensing publications and assist in keeping our educational
materials up-to-date and useful. The FSF provides the framework,
infrastructure, training, and guidance that lets the volunteers help
teach the world about free software licensing. They are able to get
an incredible amount of work done, answering nearly 1,000 difficult
licensing questions from the community last year alone.


"Volunteering for the FSF has given me the privilege to engage with
people from all over the world who write in to the FSF. The free
software community relies on the FSF, and I'm happy for the
opportunity to help." - Yoni Rabkin, long-time licensing volunteer.


The Free Software Directory


Volunteer contributors are necessary to the maintenance and growth
of the Free Software Directory. The Directory is a massive
listing of over 15,000 software packages that have been vetted to
ensure that they are free software. This resource helps users
find free software, but also helps maintainers of free software
packages to find out about potential licensing issues with their
code. The group of contributors working on the Directory is quite
large, and while there is a dedicated core who work on it
regularly, many more contributors drop in to improve entries on
their favorite packages. We have a weekly meeting every Friday
via IRC with the contributors, where we all work together to review
the licensing of free software packages so that they can be added
to the Directory. If there's an issue, we file a bug with the
project letting them know about the licensing problem. Previously
maintained by a member of the FSF staff, a core group of
contributors now take an active role in building the Directory. It
has grown by almost 7,000 entries since 2015.


Verification and Certification


In addition to individual packages or particular licenses, users
need to know that their systems as a whole are free.
Through our List of Free GNU/Linux distributions, users can
find a complete operating system that contains and recommends only
free software. When the maintainers of a distro want to be added to
the list they first contact our volunteers, who review the
operating system for any licensing issues. By working with the
maintainers, they help remove nonfree software and point out other
potential issues with the distro. While staff at the FSF, along with
Richard Stallman, make the final determination as to whether a distro
can be endorsed, these first rounds of review are invaluable for
easing that process.


Of course, once a user has a fully free operating system, they'll
need some hardware on which to run it. For their general hardware
needs, users can turn to h-node, a volunteer project from the
FSF like the Directory, that focused on hardware. The volunteers
there grade various hardware on how well it runs using a fully
free system. While h-node is a great resource for finding hardware
that works with free software, being able to purchase hardware
that only comes with free software takes more effort, which is
where our Respects Your Freedom certification program comes
in. While the detailed review and expertise required to endorse
hardware as coming with only free software requires FSF staff
largely handle potential candidates, even here a small group of
dedicated volunteers can and do aid in reviewing devices. Through
our programs, we are making it possible and progressively easier
for users to live in a fully free world. That in turn creates the
incentives for people to make the hardware and devices needed to
run only free software.


And much more


The reality is that people want to support others. They want to
share free software and educate users about their rights. But
without someone guiding that effort, it is hard for people to get
involved. That is why the work we do as staff members is so
important. The FSF has over 30 years of institutional experience in
handling licensing issues, which enables us to provide a framework
for volunteers to flourish. We train and educate the volunteers
about licensing so that they can do the same for others. We
facilitate legal and policy discussions with Richard Stallman, our
board members, and legal counsel to guide our work in the right
direction. When all the educational materials aren't enough, and
someone fails to provide the rights guaranteed under a free license
like the GPL, FSF staff take special care to teach them how to come
back into our community. Where necessary, we uphold free software by
enforcing the license according to the Principles of
Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement
. With these roots in place,
we are able to support the branching network of volunteers and
enable their great work.


For activists around the world, the FSF is a focal point for finding
resources and directing efforts. That is why supporting the FSF can
have such a huge impact. Becoming a member or making a
donation
doesn't just support a few employees at a non-profit
in Boston. It supports the work of thousands of people around the
globe. People are often surprised at the smaller size of the FSF,
but that's a testament to our community's ability to turn small
donations into big positive change.

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