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You are here: Home Blogs Community People everywhere are standing up for free software

People everywhere are standing up for free software

by Zoe Kooyman Contributions Published on Jul 23, 2020 01:35 PM

Illustration of people working on a tractor together

"John F. Kennedy once said that a farmer is the only person 'in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.'

This exploitation has extended into the age of data, where corporate agriculture tech giants sell proprietary software to farmers that funnel enormous amounts of valuable data into closed and proprietary databases, which is then used to sell more seed, inputs, and hardware back to the farmers. Free software offers a way to give back control to the people in this economy who produce valuable resources like food, and the environmental and agricultural knowledge surrounding it.

Working together, we can ensure that this knowledge is put toward the benefit of everyone, not just a small set of large company shareholders. This is how we will achieve true sustainability in the coming centuries."

The above is a statement from Michael Stenta, lead developer of FarmOS, and a LibrePlanet 2020 speaker. He submitted his thoughts for us to add to the "Working Together for Free Software" pages, which we have been updating as part of a summer push highlighting "free software in action." On these pages, we explore the different reasons why people dedicate their time to free software, and highlight all the different ways that user freedom is important to them.

With each submission that comes in, we realize again just how far the fight for software freedom stretches. Thankfully, like Michael and many other community members that we have spoken to recently, there are people all over the globe and in many industries, who are fighting for justice.

Right here in the Boston area, Micky Metts (also known as FreeScholar, and a member of Agaric, a worker-owned cooperative of Web developers), is working with the Boston Public School system to host an online Learning Management System (LMS), as schools will not be open for the summer, and possibly not even in the fall. Agaric is using some packages the FSF put together with Canvas as the LMS and BigBlueButton as the video chat/whiteboard. On Micky's "Working Together" page, you can find more information about the timely and relevant work that Agaric does with free software in education, immigration, and community engagement.

When asked why free software is so important, Micky tells us:

"When data consumption and data breaches at large corporations are at an all-time high, organizations need to understand that using proprietary solutions for their customers and clients puts everyone at a great disadvantage."

Even where the FSF is not directly involved, our broad work advocating for the principles of free software and best practices in its licensing and development help make and hold the space for others to accomplish impressive feats for freedom. We will continue to give people like Michael and Micky a platform, and, most importantly, we help grow the community of people that are taking on this important work of defending user freedom in this time when proprietary software corporations are exploiting the consequences of the virus in more ways than we can imagine.

Check out our working-together pages for the complete testimonials

Together, we can continue to protect crucial rights for freedom. This summer, our goal is to reach 200 new associate members before August 7, and we could really use your help. You can use one of the beautifully designed free software images to help raise awareness, and publicly bring attention to the need for free software.

You can also share your own story about your field or industry, and how you are using free software to defend #UserFreedom via social media, on our LibrePlanet mailing list, or, if you are an FSF associate member, on the forum. Knowing that there are people standing up for freedom all over the world is inspiring. Connecting with the community over your challenges and successes will help us all get stronger.

The FSF is also taking action to defend students' #UserFreedom. Read more, and sign the petition for freedom in the classroom.

Thank you for being part of this fight.

Illustration Copyright © 2020 Free Software Foundation, Inc., by Raghavendra Kamath, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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