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Free Software Foundation
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Free Software Foundation

Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a non-profit organisation founded in 1985 by Richard Stallman to support the free software movement (free as in freedom), and in particular the GNU project.

From its founding until the mid-1990s FSF's funds were mostly used to employ software developers to write free software. Since the mid- to late-1990's there are now many companies and individuals writing free software, so FSF's employees and volunteers mostly work on legal and structural issues for the free software community.

Table of contents
1 Current work of FSF
2 Structure
3 External links

Current work of FSF

; GPL Enforcement : FSF have the resources and the will to enforce the GPL and other GNU licenses. FSF handles around 50 GPL violations per year and tries to bring the other party into compliance without involving the courts. As of January 2004, no one has yet taken FSF to court over a copyright dispute.

; GNU Licenses : The GNU GPL is the most widely used license for Free Software projects. The current version (version 2) was released in 1991 but FSF are working on a version 3. FSF have also published the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).

; Guardian of copyrights : FSF holds the copyrights to all GNU software and some non-GNU Free Software. They require copyright assignment papers from each contributor to GNU packages so that they can defend the software in court if a dispute arises, and so that if there is a need to change the license of a work, it can be done without having to contact all contributors that have ever worked on the software.

; Maintaining the Free Software Definition : FSF maintain many of the documents that define the Free Software movement

; Legal Education : FSF hold seminars about legal aspects of using the GPL, and offers a consultancy service for lawyers.

; Project Hosting : FSF provide project hosting via their Savannah website.

; FSF Award for the Advancement of Free Software : An annual award.



On November 25, 2002 the FSF launched the FSF Associate Membership program for individuals. In April 2004 they had over 2044 members. On March 5 2003 they launched a Corporate Patronage program for commercial entities. As of April 2004, they have 45 corporate patrons.


FSF has a board of directors with six members:

Other positions held: Previous employees: There are usually around 12 employees in the headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. The office is managed by Bradley Kuhn.

Sister organisations

In 2001, Free Software Foundation Europe was founded in Germany to act as a "hub" for the Free Software organisations of Europe. In 2003, Free Software Foundation India was founded in Kerala. On the 20th anniversary of the GNU Project (January 5 2004), the Irish Free Software Foundation was founded to promote free software in Ireland.

External links