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You are here: Home FSF Appeals 2016 Give back to the FSF: Strengthen our roots and make the free software movement stronger

Give back to the FSF: Strengthen our roots and make the free software movement stronger

by Georgia Young Contributions Published on Nov 14, 2016 03:06 PM
Thanks to the generosity of free software supporters, we met our fundraising goal and welcomed hundreds of new Free Software Foundation members. Thank you!

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has sown the seeds of user freedom across the world for more than three decades. Our roots are in the free software community. Our roots are you.

We want to welcome 500 new members in the next six weeks and raise $450,000. The scope of our work has increased dramatically, as computers and software permeate even more areas of life. We must grow to meet these challenges. Will you help deepen our roots by becoming a new member, increasing your current membership giving, or making a donation by December 31st?

Many events in the past year demonstrated the free software movement's strength when called to action, but also the world's acute need for more of the freedom, community, and user control free software offers. At our LibrePlanet conference in March, Edward Snowden warned us that, though software now touches nearly every aspect of our lives, we increasingly cannot trust proprietary software companies to act in our best interests.

Snowden's LibrePlanet warning bore fruit in September when a massive Denial of Service attack took a big chunk of the Internet offline thanks to a botnet made up of networked surveillance cameras and digital video recorders. Users were powerless to independently apply fixes to the infected devices, because they are locked down, and always include outright proprietary components. This malicious takeover of many devices showed the vulnerability of the Internet of Things -- surprising many people, but not free software users. We know that while computer security is hard and any kind of software can have bugs, verifiable security must begin with free software.

Having significant parts of the Web taken down temporarily by attacks is one thing. But deliberately and permanently breaking the Web is another. This year, the public has rallied around our Defective by Design campaign to oppose the adoption of Digital Restrictions Management in Web standards by the World Wide Web Consortium at the behest of a coalition driven by Microsoft, Apple, and Netflix. So far, we've been able to stave off this unprecedented subversion of user freedom on the Web -- but we must work even harder if we want to stop it.

Much of our work involves stopping such terrible things from happening, but we also gained some ground this year. For example, as FSF executive director John Sullivan shared in our Fall 2016 Bulletin, the FSF impacted the U.S. Federal Source Code Policy published in August. It references the Free Software Definition, and requires 20% of code written for federal government executive agencies to be freely licensed. We want much, much more, but this is a commendable step forward.

Individual associate members are the roots supporting the FSF's work. As a member, your donation funds:

  • Our direct investment in free software development, especially the necessary infrastructure we provide for the hundreds of packages in the GNU Project. We also bring external attention and resources to high priority projects that are particularly important for increasing the reach of free software's branches. We enable fundraising and promotion for several free software projects, including GNU MediaGoblin (free, decentralized media publishing) and Replicant (a fully free version of Android).

  • Our tireless advocacy for copyleft, as the most effective strategy for achieving a world where all software is free. Our Licensing and Compliance Lab offers widely used licensing educational materials, answers thousands of licensing questions for free software developers, and helps maintain, the community guide to copyleft. When necessary, we enforce the GNU General Public License. We want to ensure that companies who use copyleft-licensed software in their products understand how it works, become good participants in the community, and respect user freedom.

  • Our resources for recruiting, encouraging, and helping users new to free software, including the Free Software Directory, a database of more than 15,000 free software packages; our Email Self-Defense beginner's guide to email encryption; and our constant presence at events around the world, especially our own annual LibrePlanet conference.

Over 80% of our funding comes from individuals, and participating in our Associate Membership program is a great way to give back and make a long-term commitment to free software.

We know you believe that everyone should be able to use computers without being controlled or spied upon by them. We are here because you trust us to efficiently and creatively rally many people to use free software, contribute to free software projects, and defend the rights of all computer users. When user freedom is threatened, we gather strength from our roots, and you fortify the movement by nurturing and expanding these roots. We want to see the free software movement continue to grow: more free software and hardware projects, free software adoption initiatives, government support for free software, and free software in education.

You can become an FSF member for just $10/month ($5/month for students). When you join, you'll get many benefits, including a USB membership card loaded with the free GNU/Linux distribution Trisquel, a digital member button, email aliases and Jabber instant messaging, gratis admission to the annual LibrePlanet conference, a 20% discount on all purchases in the FSF shop, a printed copy of the biannual FSF Bulletin, and 5% off hardware from ThinkPenguin.

You can trust that your donations will be used efficiently by our small, hardworking staff of thirteen: our Charity Navigator rating is four out of four stars, with a score of 100% on accountability and transparency, and 97% on financial management. We aim to set an example showing that a nonprofit run using all free software in its own operations can excel.

We started over thirty years ago. But we're nowhere near done. Free software needs both to weather challenges and to branch out into more areas of life. Our ability to do that will depend entirely on the strength and depth of our roots -- your generosity and commitment.

Happy hacking!

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