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LibrePlanet 2020: In-person component canceled, but we'll see you online

by Zoƫ Kooyman Contributions Published on Mar 09, 2020 05:27 PM

It is with deep sadness that we are canceling all of the in-person events associated with LibrePlanet 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and our corresponding concern for the safety of this community. This includes the conference sessions on March 14 and 15, and all Free Software Foundation (FSF)-organized social events on March 13, 14, and 15.

However, just because we won't be holding a conference in person this year doesn't mean that we've given up our fight to "free the future." Instead, LibrePlanet will be a fully free (as in freedom) virtual conference and livestream. We had an extremely exciting program planned, and we're going to try and maintain as much of that schedule as possible with all of the speakers who are willing and able to participate remotely. The resulting livestream will be run on and entirely accessible via free software, so that you can enjoy these amazing talks from the comfort of your home.

With our small staff and the immense amount of other work to be done for free software this year, we decided that rescheduling to later this year would not be feasible, and that a virtual conference would be much more valuable.

We changed our plans since our announcement last week because, over the weekend, the number of presumptive coronavirus cases reported in Massachusetts grew to 40. We also have been receiving a steady flow of speaker and attendee cancellations, indicating concern. The continuous spread of the virus, the daily changes to the situation, and its confirmed growth in the Boston area all made it impossible for us to sufficiently guarantee people's safety attending the event. With this issue out of the way, we can now focus all of our energy to deliver the best possible version of the event online.

This decision has not been made lightly; the financial costs already incurred in terms of money and staff time are a heavy burden on the organization. We ask you for your understanding, and to please consider making a donation to the FSF, especially as we move forward with our plans to bring the conference to thousands of virtual participants around the world. To those whose travel plans were disrupted, please accept our apologies.

More information will be forthcoming. For now, please follow the World Health Organization guidelines about keeping safe during this difficult time. Again, thank you for your patience and understanding.

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