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You are here: Home FSF News FSF board adopts updated by-laws to protect copyleft

FSF board adopts updated by-laws to protect copyleft

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Jan 24, 2023 10:58 AM
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Tuesday, January 24, 2023 -- The board of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced it has adopted updated bylaws for the nonprofit effective Feb. 1, 2023.

The update to the by-laws most importantly enacts a strengthened approval process for drafting and publishing licenses by the FSF. It also formalizes the union staff seat that was introduced on March 21, 2021, and makes various minor improvements to the text. This is part of the preparations for the process of expanding the board.

FSF president Geoffrey Knauth said: "These are the first changes to the bylaws in twenty years and constitute an important step to strengthen and modernize our governance as we prepare to expand the board in the months ahead."

In addition to procedural changes, such as allowing for hybrid meetings of members both in person and virtually, after thorough review, the board enacted on January 14, 2023 two important changes previously announced:

• Formally establishing that the board will include a staff member as a full voting member and director who has been elected to serve by unionized staff of the FSF. This codifies a board practice that has been in place since March 2021, and held by FSF senior sysadmin Ian Kelling; and

• Requiring a supermajority vote (66%) of the directors to approve the drafting or publication of any new copyright license or a new version of any existing copyright license. This provision applies to all FSF licenses, including any GNU copyright license.

Copyleft licenses are designed to protect users freedom. Releasing new versions of a GNU license calls for great care, because programs released under "GNU XYZ License version N or later" will automatically give users the option to choose later revised versions published by the FSF. The GNU licenses are the principal copyleft licenses. More information about this is available at

This decision caps a series of steps taken during the last year to strengthen FSF governance, transparency and community engagement, including the adoption of a Code of Ethics for board and voting members and inviting associate members to nominate and evaluate candidates for the board of directors.

About the Free Software Foundation

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.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at

Media Contacts

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Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942

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