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You are here: Home FSF Appeals 2010 The Free Software Compliance Lab Needs Your Help

The Free Software Compliance Lab Needs Your Help

by Brett Smith Contributions Published on Jan 26, 2011 03:18 PM
Brett Smith is the lead compliance engineer in the Free Software Foundation's GPL compliance lab. He helped coordinated the GPLv3 drafting process and has handled enforcement cases against Apple's App Store.

When people ask me what I do as a license compliance engineer, I have a tough time giving them a quick summary.

My work involves many different tasks:

  • Helping prepare educational materials like our license FAQ.

  • Evaluating new licenses for our list of free software licenses.

  • Answering questions about our licenses from users, distributors, and developers.

  • Help free software projects find solutions to comply with multiple licenses.

  • Enforcing the licenses on FSF-copyrighted software.

Brett Smith, yesterday

At the Compliance Lab, we've usually got a few one-time tasks on our plate at any given time, too. Most recently, we've been involved in offering comments for the upcoming release of the second version of the Mozilla Public License. From time to time, we also consider license changes for GNU packages and submit comments about government policies that relate to our work.

Knowing You're Free

All of this work is crucial to help ensure that free software stays free for everyone. The GPL, along with our other licenses, is an important tool to help us reach that goal. But in order for the GPL to be effective, it has to be understood. People using the GPL need to understand a couple of key points about the license. First, they have the freedom to use, change and share the software as they see fit. Second, if they share the software, they need to make sure the software stays free for everyone.

If someone doesn't understand part of the rights or conditions in the GPL, people have less freedom than they should. If you use free software and don't realize that you have those freedoms, then we still have work to do. Here at the Compliance Lab, we want to help users and developers understand the GPL better so they can appreciate what the license offers them.

Support the Compliance Lab

When you support the FSF, your contribution helps fund this important work. The FSF gets most of its funds from individuals like you.

When you join the Free Software Foundation an associate member, you join a society of ethical computing and social solidarity that values and upholds the principles of software freedom:

  • As an FSF associate member, you ensure that our own software remains free for everyone, by affording us the opportunity to defend GNU from direct attacks on our freedom from companies that violate the GPL.

  • As an FSF associate member, you help our work to foster understanding of the GPL for everyone.

  • And as an FSF associate member, you ensure that projects looking to the FSF for guidance on free software licensing get the best possible information.

This work is not only significant, but it is vital for a free society.

Few companies care about GPL education and enforcement. For this work to continue and grow, we need you to join us as an associate member. We have a variety of payment options, and membership is as little as $5 per month.

If you can't commit to a regular payment right now, please make a generous one-time donation. Help us ensure that the GPL accomplishes its goals, and provides freedom to all computer users.

New associate members who support the Compliance Lab through this appeal and join online will receive a set of GPLv3 stickers. They're great ways to start a conversation about free software, and your support for the FSF.

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