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You are here: Home Blogs Licensing Support the FSF licensing team in its continued mission to serve and educate

Support the FSF licensing team in its continued mission to serve and educate

by Craig Topham Contributions Published on Jul 08, 2022 12:53 PM
Support the FSF licensing team in its continued mission to serve and educate

Licensing logo and screenshot of FSD IRC meeting overlay

Searching for and finding a reason to support free software can begin with a simple idea. An idea that you value your privacy. An idea that devices shouldn't be designed with planned obsolescence. An idea that once you buy a computer, it is entirely yours, not something owned or controlled by others. Once someone has a reason to support free software, their next inevitable step is a call to action, and the Free Software Foundation’s (FSF) licensing and compliance team works hard to provide freedom-seekers the support they need to guide themselves to freedom.

Answering your questions

The FSF licensing and compliance team is here to help with one of civilization's most useful concepts: the question. Do you have a question about free software licensing or how the GNU General Public License (GPL) works? We have answers. With the help of our knowledgeable and experienced licensing volunteers, we answer the public's licensing questions. There is no limit to the type of questions we receive at -- from free software developers, to concerned users, to the occasional person wondering what the GPL is when they've seen it somewhere unexpected. If the question pertains in some way to GNU licensing, and the answer is not already on our GPL FAQ, then we may want to add it. Maybe your next question will help improve the GPL FAQ to everyone's benefit.

Find your reason -- and the Free Software Directory

The licensing team currently consists of just one full-time staff member, together with a handful of volunteers, to do important activities such as holding the weekly Free Software Directory (FSD) meetings and improving our communications tools to help coordinate our efforts. We are always exploring ways to transform our work into useful educational materials, but we need your help. With your contribution today, we can continue to be the lighthouse guiding users towards software freedom one question at a time. For those interested in becoming licensing volunteers, you may start with our licensing quiz to get an idea of what's involved.

Licensing logo and screenshot of IRC

Every Friday from 12:00 - 15:00 EDT (16:00 - 19:00 UTC), a licensing team member is available to help others evaluate the licensing of software in order to catalog it in the Free Software Directory. The Directory has close to 17,000 entries that have been evaluated and determined to be free software. By reviewing these packages, the reviewer adds this skill to their toolkit and the community benefits from having these programs confirmed as free software, allowing users to run, edit, share, and modify them.

Just recently, we have started regular announcements of upcoming FSD meetings on the FSF events feed, and we recap them in the (previously on hiatus) Directory blog feed, and we published a new article in the latest Free Software Bulletin. We have also begun efforts to relaunch "GPL interviews" and now have a few interviews in the works that we look forward to showcasing in the coming months. If you have a GPL or Affero General Public license (AGPL) program and you are interested in sharing why you chose a copyleft, free software license, please send us an email at And in the mean time, our work processing copyright assignments also continues.

Meeting new challenges

In the summer of 2021, Microsoft debuted a new freedom-exploiting technology in the form of GitHub's Copilot, an AI-driven Service as a Software Substitute (SaaSS) program that auto-completes code for developers as they write software. The FSF put out a call for whitepapers to address the philosophical and legal questions that were springing up like dandelions across the free software community's grassy fields. The five selected whitepapers were published in February 2022 and over the next couple of months, the papers were downloaded over 9,000 times. The licensing and compliance team is proud to rally the community in this way, and with your contribution today, we can continue to do so in the future.

As we are coming out of the pandemic and getting comfortable with the "new normal," (whatever that means) the licensing and compliance team will continue to work hard and strive to answer to the community as much as we can. Part of this effort is to hire a licensing and compliance manager with the knowledge and skill to do just that. With your help, we will continue our path forward and improve our results even more.

Images Copyright © 2022 Free Software Foundation, Inc., licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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