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You are here: Home FSF News Harald Welte and Groklaw announced as winners of the FSF's 2007 annual free software awards

Harald Welte and Groklaw announced as winners of the FSF's 2007 annual free software awards

by Matt Lee Contributions Published on Mar 19, 2008 02:07 PM

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- March 19, 2008 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced the recipients of its Award for Projects of Social Benefit and its Award for the Advancement of Free Software. Groklaw received the social benefit award, and Harald Welte received the advancement award. FSF president Richard Stallman handed out the awards at the conclusion of the FSF's annual associate members meeting in Cambridge, MA.

The Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented annually to a free software project that intentionally and significantly benefits society. Since its start in 2003, Groklaw has evolved into an invaluable source of legal and technical information for software developers, lawyers, law professors, and historians.

Dan Bricklin

Dan Bricklin accepting the
award on behalf of Pamela Jones.

Groklaw's founder and editor Pamela Jones could not make it to the ceremony in person, but Groklaw contributor Dan Bricklin was present to accept on her behalf. In a prerecorded audio message, Jones described Groklaw as "a place where lawyers and geeks could explain things to each other and work together, so they'd understand each other's work better". Jones also emphasized the importance of Groklaw's free software approach to its success, "[W]hen you have an idea you hope might work, and then to implement it, tweak it, and morph it, because other people show up and have ideas that are better than yours...and then have people you care about and admire tell you that what you are doing matters -- I can't think of a more satisfying feeling."

In receiving this award, Groklaw joins previous winners Sahana (2006) and Wikipedia (2005).

The Award for the Advancement of Free Software went to Linux kernel hacker and founder of, Harald Welte. The awards committee honored both Welte's technical contributions to projects like the Linux kernel and the OpenMoko mobile platform project, and his community leadership in safeguarding the freedom of free software users by successfully enforcing the GNU General Public License in over one hundred cases since the project began in 2004.

Jacob Applebaum

Jacob Applebaum accepting the
award on behalf of Harald Welte.

In a prepared statement read on his behalf by Jacob Applebaum, Welte described the motivation behind his work. "I believe the copyleft principle creates a fair equilibrium between taking existing works and giving back whatever extensions and modifications were made. When I first heard of certain commercial corporations not playing by the rules, by taking GPL-licensed code but not releasing the source code of their derivative works, I was outraged -- big business, who usually are the first to enforce their own copyright and related rights if anyone dares to infringe them, suddenly violating copyright themselves."

Harald Welte joins a distinguished list of previous winners:

  • 2006 Ted Ts'o
  • 2005 Andrew Tridgell
  • 2004 Theo de Raadt
  • 2003 Alan Cox
  • 2002 Lawrence Lessig
  • 2001 Guido van Rossum
  • 2000 Brian Paul
  • 1999 Miguel de Icaza
  • 1998 Larry Wall

This year's award committee was Peter H. Salus (Chair), Raj Mathur, Hong Feng, Lawrence Lessig, Andrew Tridgell, Jonas Oberg, Verner Vinge, Richard Stallman, Suresh Ramasubramanian, Alan Cox, and Fernanda G. Weiden.

About the FSF

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at and, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

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