Skip to content, sitemap or skip to search.

Personal tools
Join now
You are here: Home Blogs Licensing FSF licensing team: What we did in 2012 & why it matters for 2013

FSF licensing team: What we did in 2012 & why it matters for 2013

by Joshua Gay Contributions Published on Jan 31, 2013 04:22 PM
Help us to continue to grow and expand the FSF licensing team.

In June I wrote a blog post about taking over the licensing & compliance manager role here at the FSF. Our fundraiser last year allowed the FSF to increase our licensing efforts, bringing us from one full time employee to two full time employees. The past nine months have been an awesome and gratifying experience of doing important, specialized work — work that needs to be done and that few other organizations or individuals are doing.

Today is the last day of this year's frundraiser, and it is with my pleasure to share with you a bit of what we did in 2012 and why it matters for 2013. I hope that if you believe that what we are doing is important, you will find ways of supporting and furthering the efforts of the FSF Licensing & Compliance Lab so that we can continue to grow and to do more.

Please help us reach our remaining fundraising goal of signing up 120 new associate members before the end of January. If you are already a member, please consider signing up a friend.

Compliance investigations and backlog reduction

What we did in 2012

We responded and resolved over 400 reports of suspected license violations and over 600 general licensing and compliance questions.

Why it matters for 2013

The obvious benefit of a reducing our backlog of requests and emails is that it gives us more time to focus on doing more of our other work, such as being able to more ambitiously pursue our licensing compliance cases, or to put more time and effort into working with groups such as Creative Commons whom we have been providing advice and feedback in their drafting of the CC 4.0 set of licenses.

But, another less obvious benefit is that in dealing with hundreds of requests, Donald and I gained a ton of confidence, knowledge, and experience in a relatively short period of time.

So, while Donald and I may not yet have the same degree of Ninja skills as our predecessor, the fact is that the FSF now has two trained mercenary warriors licensing and compliance experts to unleash upon the world in 2013!

Launched Respects Your Freedom hardware certification program

What we did in 2012

In October, we awarded our first Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification to the LulzBot AO-100 3D Printer sold by Aleph Objects, Inc.

Why it matters for 2013

In order to award our first RYF certification to a hardware product, we had to accomplish a lot of other firsts, including: creating a logo/certification mark, certification lab and (re)certification process and negotiating a contract.

Having solved many problems and cleared many a hurdle, we will now be able to focus our efforts on improving our existing marketing and educational materials on our RYF certification program, reaching out to new and strengthening our existing relationships with hardware makers, and, hopefully certifying more products.

Organizing and improving our educational licensing materials

What we did in 2012

The GNU Project and the FSF have produced a tremendous amount of educational materials on free licensing over the past 27 years. For example, the GNU Licenses FAQ page alone is over 40 pages long. This material is of immense value to the public. This year, we spent a fair amount of time sorting through our materials, determining on how to improve and better organize them, and figuring out what new materials should be created.

Why it matters for 2013

Year after year we have seen a steady increase in the number of people producing, sharing, using, and relying upon free software. Governments, schools, developers, and hundreds of millions of users around the world are using free software. This increased interest, usage, and participation brings with it a lot of people wanting to learn more, discovering new problems, and looking for answers. Licensing is one area where we want to make sure that our answers to those questions and the materials we provide are both accurate and easy to find. We must curate and improve our educational resources, because they are an invaluable resource to the world.

How you can help

I have shared with you some of the important work that the Licensing & Compliance Lab will be doing this year. In order to accomplish this work and the many other goals we have set for ourselves, we need your support.

If you are interested in becoming a licensing volunteer for the FSF, please — we'd love your help!

Document Actions

The FSF is a charity with a worldwide mission to advance software freedom — learn about our history and work. is powered by:


Send your feedback on our translations and new translations of pages to