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FSF rallies support for GNU MediaGoblin to make media publishing free "as in freedom"

por Zak Rogoff Published on 11/10/2012 14:37
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, October 11th, 2012 -- Today the Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced its support for the GNU MediaGoblin project's fundraiser at http://mediagoblin.org/pages/campaign.html. MediaGoblin is community-developed free "as in freedom" software that enables users to share their experiences through photos, videos, and audio, in a decentralized way that sidesteps current media-publishing gatekeepers.

Donate to support GNU MediaGoblin.

Executive director John Sullivan explained the FSF's support, saying, "In theory, there is nothing wrong with a Web service that publishes media files. But in practice, current major sites used for this, like Facebook, Flickr and YouTube, come with a host of freedom problems. For example, they require users to run nonfree software in their browsers, mainly Flash and JavaScript, and they are easy targets for censorship and surveillance by governments. Some, like YouTube, have made important strides toward supporting free formats and Web standards, but still require proprietary software and still provide single points of failure. MediaGoblin promises both to give us another way, and to put pressure on existing major publishing sites to respect their users."

MediaGoblin is an ambitious project, not just because it will support user-friendly uploading of multiple media types using only free software, but also because it will use a new, decentralized approach called federation. In a federated system, multiple sites can share and publish the same media files, so users on one site can subscribe to and share with users on many other compatible sites. Individuals can also run their own nodes using the software, for truly decentralized publishing and sharing. MediaGoblin based its approach on software called StatusNet, which is used on sites like http://identi.ca to replace Twitter.

The MediaGoblin team is made up of about fifty part-time volunteers, led by project founder Chris Webber. They've made quick progress in the year-and-a-half since the project's founding -- the software is already in use by early adopters -- but they say donors' help is needed to make the system polished and ready for more users.

Potential users can help the project reach its goal of $60,000 by making a donation of any amount at http://mediagoblin.org/pages/campaign.html. MediaGoblin is offering donors goblin-themed items designed and made by Webber himself. Help out enough, and he'll even cook you a wholesome dinner at his home in Madison, Wisconsin.

If they reach their goal, the team will use the money to support a full-time project lead to organize volunteers and advance the project to a professional level. With this support and more hard work, Webber estimates that MediaGoblin will be ready for widespread use within a year.

Webber said, "We're developing GNU MediaGoblin because we believe user freedom is important, especially in the Web. More and more users are becoming trapped by proprietary, centralized media publishing systems where problems like automated censorship are becoming serious. We believe in the vision of the decentralized web as a mechanism to empower people, and we want to bring that web back! We're proud to be teaming up the Free Software Foundation in the fight to put power back into the hands of users. We've done a lot of good already, but we need your help to make this federated future a reality!"

FSF campaigns manager Zak Rogoff added, "Almost thirty years ago, the free software movement was founded to make it possible to use a computer without compromising basic freedoms. Projects like MediaGoblin and StatusNet are part of the next phase of that effort, working to return to an Internet that respects and empowers people. The FSF believes that this new old Internet is needed now more than ever, as government intervention and corporate control is reaching a new peak. We can get to this vision of a free Internet faster by finding a way to fund these projects, which is why MediaGoblin needs your help."

As a GNU project, MediaGoblin gets support, promotion and advice from the FSF. Many famous programs have been developed with similar assistance from the FSF, including the GCC C compiler and other software at the heart of the GNU/Linux family of operating systems. Recently, the FSF has started accepting donations directed toward particular free software problem areas at https://my.fsf.org/donate/directed-donations/working-together. The FSF intends to offer this service and hosting for MediaGoblin-style fundraisers to more GNU projects addressing important problem areas in the future.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at http://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

About Free Software and Open Source

The free software movement's goal is freedom for computer users. Some, especially corporations, advocate a different viewpoint, known as "open source," which cites only practical goals such as making software powerful and reliable, focuses on development models, and avoids discussion of ethics and freedom. These two viewpoints are different at the deepest level. For more explanation, see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html.

Media Contacts

Zakkai Kauffman-Rogoff
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
(617) 542-5942 x31
campaigns@fsf.org

Chris Webber
Founder
GNU MediaGoblin
(773) 614-2279
press@mediagoblin.org

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