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You are here: Home Free Software Supporter 2020 Free Software Supporter - Issue 149, September 2020

Free Software Supporter - Issue 149, September 2020

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Aug 04, 2020 02:34 PM

Welcome to the Free Software Supporter, the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 228,323 other activists. That's 82 more than last month!

Submit your session for LibrePlanet 2021 before October 28

From August 20th

The thirteenth edition of the Free Software Foundation's conference on technology and social justice will be held in spring 2021. The Call for Sessions is now open, and will close on October 28th. Potential talks should examine free software through the lens of this year's theme: Empowering Users. The date of the conference is still to be determined, and a decision about whether the conference will be held as usual in person in Boston, or whether it will be held online, as we did in spring 2020, will be made this winter.

Visit the LibrePlanet 2021 conference Web site

Submit a talk for LibrePlanet 2021

We invite activists, hackers, law professionals, artists, students, developers, young people, policymakers, tinkerers, newcomers to free software, and anyone looking for technology that aligns with their ideals, to submit a proposal for a session at LibrePlanet. Session proposals can focus on software development, copyleft, community, or other related issues.


  • The University of Costumed Heroes: A video from the FSF
  • Geoffrey Knauth elected Free Software Foundation president; Odile Bénassy joins the board
  • Statement from FSF's new president, Geoffrey Knauth
  • Thank you for helping us welcome over 200 new members
  • Help the FSF tech team empower software users
  • The DMCA could use an update, but not the one US Copyright Office recommends
  • The FSF's approach to using online videos for advocacy
  • Meet the star witness: Your "smart" speaker
  • A tech antitrust hearing misses the point
  • The age of mass surveillance will not last forever
  • EmacsConf 2020 Call For Proposals
  • Announcement of LibreOffice 6.4.6
  • August GNU Emacs news
  • Join the FSF and friends in updating the Free Software Directory
  • LibrePlanet featured resource: Group: LibrePlanet Gaming Collective
  • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 14 new GNU releases!
  • FSF and other free software events
  • Thank GNUs!
  • GNU copyright contributions
  • Translations of the Free Software Supporter
  • Take action with the FSF!

View this issue online here:

Encourage your friends to subscribe and help us build an audience by adding our subscriber widget to your Web site.

Miss an issue? You can catch up on back issues at

Want to read this newsletter translated into another language? Scroll to the end to read the Supporter in French, Spanish, or Portuguese.

The University of Costumed Heroes: A video from the FSF

From August 7th

The University of Costumed Heroes is an animated video telling the story of a group of heroes falling prey to the powers of proprietary software in education. The university board acquires cutting-edge remote learning software that enables them to continue their operations online, but -- [SPOILER ALERT] -- it may sow the seeds of their downfall.

This video highlights the importance of resisting the use of proprietary videoconferencing programs for remote education, and in addition to sharing the video, we encourage you to sign and share our petition urging schools to protect students' freedom by communicating and teaching with free software instead.

Geoffrey Knauth elected Free Software Foundation president; Odile Bénassy joins the board

From August 5th

Long-time free software activist and developer Odile Bénassy, known especially for her work promoting free software in France, was elected to the FSF's board of directors. Geoffrey Knauth, who has served on the FSF's board for over twenty years, was elected president.

Statement from FSF's new president, Geoffrey Knauth

From August 5th

The FSF board chose me at this moment as a servant leader to help the community focus on our shared dedication to protect and grow software that respects our freedoms. It is also important to protect and grow the diverse membership of the community. It is through our diversity of backgrounds and opinions that we have creativity, perspective, intellectual strength, and rigor.

Thank you for helping us welcome over 200 new members

From August 18th

In the year 2020, every shred of good news is something to be grateful for, and the outpouring of support we've experienced during our spring fundraiser is very good news indeed. Over the course of the last month, not only did we exceed our goal of 200 new associate members, but we've gained more memberships this July than in any other July in the history of the Free Software Foundation associate membership program. We are thrilled that in a time of many pressing concerns about freedom and safety, our supporters have grasped the central importance of the FSF's role in defending our right to control the software in our lives. We cannot possibly thank you enough for helping to ensure that we can continue leading this battle.

Help the FSF tech team empower software users

From August 4th

The Free Software Foundation tech team is the four-person cornerstone of the primary infrastructure of the FSF and the GNU Project, providing the backbone for hundreds of free software projects, and they epitomize the hard work, creativity, and can-do attitude that characterize the free software movement. They’re pretty modest about it, but I think they deserve some serious credit: it’s only because of their everyday efforts (with the help of volunteers all over the world) that the FSF can boast that we can host our own services entirely on free software, and help other people to become freer every day. It’s also largely to their credit that the FSF staff were able to shift to mostly remote work this spring with barely a blip in our operations.

The DMCA could use an update, but not the one US Copyright Office recommends

From August 31st

The United States Copyright Office has released a report recommending updates to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), while leaving anti-circumvention rules unchanged. The anti-circumvention provisions harm all users, and the only reprieve from its abuse is a comically broken exemptions system.

For years now, we have called on the government to end this madness and repeal the anti-circumvention provisions. So when the Copyright Office released a report on the DMCA earlier this spring, there was some hope that change would come. But our hopes were dashed when the report's main recommendations related to other rules in the DMCA, in particular the safe harbor provisions. The DMCA's safe harbor provisions implement the take-down notice system that many users are likely familiar with via video sharing sites. Users stung by take-downs likely won't enjoy the Copyright Office's recommendations on that aspect of the law, and the failure to meaningfully address or recommend change to the anti-circumvention provisions is shameful.

The FSF's approach to using online videos for advocacy

From August 6th

A consistent bit of feedback we hear from both current and potential free software supporters is: do better at using video to communicate the importance of free software philosophy. If we aim to make free software a "kitchen table" issue, it is imperative we reach new audiences and make our points clearly, in formats that successfully engage people with limited time, across a diverse set of learning styles. From a technical perspective, this means reaching them where they are -- or more specifically -- on whatever device they are using at the moment. This article explains how we make videos as accessible as possible while staying true to free software principles.

Meet the star witness: Your "smart" speaker

From August 23rd by Sidney Fussell

Not controlling the software you run on your smart device gives new meaning to the phrase "everything you say can be used against you." In this article, we learn about the frightening upswing in use of these devices in police investigations. Remember, if you don't control your devices, they can be used to control you, and the smartest thing you can do with "smart" devices is avoid them!

A tech antitrust hearing misses the point

From August 17th

On July 29th, the CEOs of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon were called before the US Senate Judiciary Committee to give testimony to lawmakers considering substantial revisions to antitrust laws. Yet despite a five-hour hearing, conducted using some of the very same software which is at the root of these issues, little headway was made.

It's easy to focus, like these hearings, on the specific objectionable purposes for which the software these companies are involved with has been used. Specific actions have caused specific harms, and we understand the importance of talking about that and potentially taking or requiring remedial actions. However, it is imperative that we not stop there. We must go deeper, and expose the fact that it is the very way our predominant proprietary software culture and legal regimes operate -- giving software companies immense power over users -- which will inevitably lead to recurring specific problems until addressed.

The age of mass surveillance will not last forever

From July 20th by Edward Snowden

Ten years ago, Snowden met with journalists in Hong Kong to reveal classified documents that revealed how state security organs of several powerful states had conspired to form a system of global mass surveillance. In this article, he talks about some of the implications of this scandal, but also talks about how he finds "more cause for hope than despair," watching how the people of Hong Kong are using ingenious technological solutions to fight back. Free software is central to the systems he refers to that "keep our secrets, and perhaps our souls; systems created in a world where possessing the means to live a private life feels like a crime," and only free software can be bent to the purposes of people collectively fighting for freedom, rather than enabling corporate oligarchs to control what we see, what we say, and what we think.

As you may remember, Snowden has been a good friend to the FSF, and encouraged FSF membership in his 2016 LibrePlanet conference keynote speech!

EmacsConf 2020 Call For Proposals

From August 24th by Sacha Chua

The Call for Proposals for EmacsConf 2020 is now open, until September 30, 2020. After a successful EmacsConf 2019, we are back again this year and are once again calling for your participation! EmacsConf is the conference about the joy of Emacs, Emacs Lisp, and memorizing key sequences. We are holding EmacsConf 2020 as a virtual (online) conference again this year, especially now, given the current state of the world with the ongoing global pandemic. We remain fully committed to freedom, and we will continue using our infrastructure and streaming setup consisting entirely of free software, much like the last EmacsConf.

Announcement of LibreOffice 6.4.6

From August 13th by Italo Vignoli

The Document Foundation announced the availability of LibreOffice 6.4.6, the 6th minor release of the LibreOffice 6.4 family, targeted at all users relying on the best free office suite ever for desktop productivity. LibreOffice 6.4.6 includes bug fixes and improvements to document compatibility and interoperability with software from other vendors.

August GNU Emacs news

From August 27th by Sacha Chua

In these issues: Emacs Doom for newbies; fido-mode in Emacs 27; modal editing in Emacs; a tour of Org Roam; and more!

Join the FSF and friends in updating the Free Software Directory

Tens of thousands of people visit each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions to version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing. The Free Software Directory has been a great resource to software users over the past decade, but it needs your help staying up-to-date with new and exciting free software projects.

To help, join our weekly IRC meetings on Fridays. Meetings take place in the #fsf channel on, and usually include a handful of regulars as well as newcomers. Freenode is accessible from any IRC client -- Everyone's welcome!

The next meeting is Friday, September 4th, from 12pm to 3pm EDT (16:00 to 19:00 UTC). Details here:

LibrePlanet featured resource: Group: LibrePlanet Gaming Collective

Every month on the LibrePlanet wiki, we highlight one resource that is interesting and useful -- often one that could use your help.

For this month, we are highlighting Group: LibrePlanet Gaming Collective, which is a group of software activists organized around their enthusiasm for video games, especially free software video games. You are invited to adopt, spread and improve this important resource.

Do you have a suggestion for next month's featured resource? Let us know at

GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 14 new GNU releases!

14 new GNU releases in the last month (as of August 28, 2020):

For announcements of most new GNU releases, subscribe to the info-gnu mailing list:

To download: nearly all GNU software is available from, or preferably one of its mirrors from You can use the URL to be automatically redirected to a (hopefully) nearby and up-to-date mirror.

This month, we welcome Rayner Lucas, Tristan Miller, and Jason Evans as maintainers of GNU STUMP and WebSTUMP.

A number of GNU packages, as well as the GNU operating system as a whole, are looking for maintainers and other assistance: please see if you'd like to help. The general page on how to help GNU is at

If you have a working or partly working program that you'd like to offer to the GNU project as a GNU package, see

FSF and other free software events

Thank GNUs!

We appreciate everyone who donates to the Free Software Foundation, and we'd like to give special recognition to the folks who have donated $500 or more in the last month.

This month, a big Thank GNU to:

  • Insurgo Inc.
  • Jake Bailey
  • Judicaël Courant
  • Paul Caruso

You can add your name to this list by donating at

GNU copyright contributions

Assigning your copyright to the Free Software Foundation helps us defend the GNU GPL and keep software free. The following individuals have assigned their copyright to the FSF (and allowed public appreciation) in the past month:

  • Adela Vais (Bison)
  • Alexandru-Sergiu Marton (Emacs)
  • Andrew Barbarello (Emacs)
  • Benjamín Buccianti (Emacs)
  • Daniel Martin (Emacs)
  • Eli Schwartz (Autoconf)
  • Jeff Walsh (Emacs)
  • Jesse Medeiros (Emacs)
  • Johanan Idicula (Emacs)
  • Mark Wielaard (Binutils, GDB, glibc)
  • Mingde Zeng GNU (Emacs)
  • Matthew White (Emacs)
  • Thomas Shields (Autoconf)

Want to see your name on this list? Contribute to GNU and assign your copyright to the FSF.

Translations of the Free Software Supporter

El Free Software Supporter está disponible en español. Para ver la versión en español haz click aqui:

Para cambiar las preferencias de usuario y recibir los próximos números del Supporter en español, haz click aquí:{contact.contact_id}&{contact.checksum}

Le Free Software Supporter est disponible en français. Pour voir la version française cliquez ici:

Pour modifier vos préférences et recevoir les prochaines publications du Supporter en français, cliquez ici:{contact.contact_id}&{contact.checksum}

O Free Software Supporter está disponível em português. Para ver a versão em português, clique aqui:

Para alterar as preferências do usuário e receber as próximas edições do Supporter em português, clique aqui:{contact.contact_id}&{contact.checksum}

Take action with the FSF!

Contributions from thousands of individual members enable the FSF's work. You can contribute by joining at If you're already a member, you can help refer new members (and earn some rewards) by adding a line with your member number to your email signature like:

I'm an FSF member -- Help us support software freedom!

The FSF is always looking for volunteers ( From rabble-rousing to hacking, from issue coordination to envelope stuffing -- there's something here for everybody to do. Also, head over to our campaigns section ( and take action on software patents, Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), free software adoption, OpenDocument, and more.

Copyright © 2020 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

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