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FTF news

The Freedom Task Force is a project of the Free Software Foundation Europe that:

… help[s] people understand Free Software licensing and the opportunities it presents. The FTF offers educational services, facilitates infrastructure activities and manages FSFE’s legal affairs. Its work focuses on the promotion of the proper use of Free Software.

“Proper” use here refers to license compliance; Free Software is, after all, free to use for any purpose. I’ve created a new category in my own blog to file FTF-specific entries (as opposed to, say, KDE-Solaris specific, or just bla-bla). Still, blog entries in that category shouldn’t be considered official pronouncements of the project — there are other avenues for that.

It strikes me as a little odd that the things I do all day are harder to write about than an hour of mucking about that I do late at night. I have something about Qt font rendering on Solaris lined up, and a bit on getting SRSS on OpenSolaris (summary: read the manual) and then I can finally post screenies related to SRSS work done at GCDS — but that is definitely hobby. Daily things are maintaining the FTF website (where I still have to get used to the workflow), list maintainence, and I’m reading a lot of documentation left to me by Shane Coughlan, the previous FTF-coordinator. It’s hard to do a daily item on that kind of work, because it does happen largely in the background. The legal work that the FTF does has a fairly long incubation time. Once it’s done, then you can see, for instance our GPL violations reporting guide (even if it’s short, it takes time to work these things out). Unlike a Free Software project, the process is largely invisible.

Transparency is an interesting beast. At GCDS I spoke with some who would put every person’s medical history (in some open format) in a publicly accessible place; I spoke to others with a strong security and privacy background who would find that a tremendously bad idea. Openness can be used well, or abused — Glyn Moody has a pointer to an interesting project building on the open data provided by a government. There are actually interesting legal topics around combining public domain data and freely-licensed content; this is similar to the old difference between the BSD license family (where widespread use is the most important) and the GPL license family (where maintaining freedom is primary), and something I hope the FTF can look at in future. My point? There’s a huge range of opinions on what constitutes healthy transparency, and I can live with both a terribly open project and one where the process is hidden and the results open. So forgive me if FTF news is infrequent — there’s enough going on.

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