The Association for Free Software

AFFS Newsletter September 2004

Welcome to the AFFS newsletter. Topics covered this issue are:-

  1. Requests for feedback
  2. Miscellaneous News
  3. The Diary
  4. Reports from AFFS
  5. Other Activities

Requests for Feedback

We have a couple of items here - both are responses to consultations of some sort. Your comments will help form the responses that AFFS will eventually send; any and all feedback is most welcome. Either add comments to the documents on the provided links, or discuss them on the fsfe-uk mailing list.

Copyright and Related Rights Working Paper

The European Commission is looking at copyright overall - they want to look at all the copyright-related directives that have been passed over the past few years to see if they make sense as a whole. Unsurprisingly, the working paper they have published shows that they think little work is needed.

In some areas we will probably want to change their mind that no changes should be made, in others we will want to re-enforce the position that they should do nothing. We have until 31st Oct 2004 to respond, so we need your thoughts well before that. In particular, we would like feedback on a few items which would affect software, but don't look bad for free software.


Proposed response:

Neither of these documents represent an official view of the AFFS.

eGovernment "Open Source Policy v2 Redraft"

Recently, we found out that the eGovernment Unit were distributing a redraft of their proposed version two "Open Source Policy" (the first version is available on GovTalk). AFFS were involved in the discussion leading up to this, but did not get notification of this new draft. However, we do now have a copy of the draft, and have until 17th Sep 2004 to send in a response. Again, early feedback is essential.

Analysis (we can't make the paper available; sorry):

Proposed response:

Neither of these documents represent an official view of the AFFS.

Miscellaneous News

Free Sofware in schools covered by the Independent (MJ Ray, Alex Hudson)

Richard Rothwell, Head of Computing at Handsworth Grammar School in Birmingham and chairman of Schoolforge-UK, was quoted on his school's pioneering migration to free software in an article on alternatives to Microsoft (The Independent, 14 July 2023).

The authentic article is for Independent Portfolio subscribers only; however, there appears to be a copy here:

WLAN-related patent defeated in High Court (Ian Lynch)

Following recent attempts by Bromcom Ltd to exercise a patent on the use of wireless networking to collect pupil registrations, the scope of the patent has been restricted by the High Court in a case brought by the Department for Education and Science. DfES has now issued guidelines to schools that the use of standard WiFi equipment does not infringe on the patent, contrary to the original claims of Bromcom.

AFFS handling UK donations to FSF-Europe (Brian Gough)

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has issued a call for increased financial support from companies and individuals using free software, due to its workload and legal costs defending the free software across Europe. FSFE's lawyers are representing the Samba team in the European Court in the antitrust case against Microsoft, that will determine the future of free software and open standards in Europe.

Donations to FSFE from the UK can be made via AFFS, to reduce the costs of transferring money. AFFS is collecting the donations and forward them on a regular basis. To make a donation, visit:

The Diary

Please feel free to email frontdesk(at) with news of your Free Software event, we would be pleased to include it in our diary.

28th August 2004: Software Freedom Day

Henrik Nilsen Omma is helping to organise an event on 28 August to promote Free Software. There are a number of events taking place across the UK, you can find more information at the web site at

4th September 2004: Gentoo UK 2004

This is the first UK meeting for Gentoo developers, users and others interested. It's taking place in Salford, Manchester, at the Salford University, and admittance is free of charge. See Stuart Herbert's Gentoo UK 2004 page for more details:

6-7th October 2004: LinuxWorld Conference & Expo (including LinuxExpoUK 2004)

The two big Expos have merged, the resultant behemoth will be taking place this Autumn in London Olympia. There is a conference website at, and AFFS will be hoping to take part as usual in the .org village. Watch our website for more details - we will be doing something at Expo, volunteers will probably be required!


Campaign Training Day (MJ Ray)

AFFS members Graham Seaman, Tim Williams and MJ Ray attended a campaigners training day at RISC in Reading on 17 July. The event was organised by Tom Chance for AFFS, the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) and Campaign for Digital Rights (CDR) members and the day structured by Matthew and Patrick of Seeds for Change Oxford. During it, we discovered some attributes of a good campaign, learnt methods for planning campaigns and discussed some practical matters common to all three groups. Hopefully, we will see these new skills put to good use in the near future. Ask us questions if you would like to know more about the day.

Other Activities

There are other activities that AFFS would like help on: if they interest you, please contact us or the person who "owns" the project. It is usually quite easy to get involved with a project. If there is an activity that you think we should undertake that is not mentioned, please feel free to contact us with your idea. We list our activities here:

As always, people are also invited to help on the more general workgroups/campaigns; these cover very general areas and are suitable for people who want to become involved on a more long-term basis:

Open Information Pledge (Tom Chance)

"This is a workgroup I am developing with the Association For Free Software and with the Reading University Students' Union. It will hopefully become a national effort by geeks to lobby organisations to only use open standards. The obvious starting point is lobbying for policy against MS Word attachments in e-mails."

AFFS business material (Roger Leigh)

This project is developing materials for AFFS to use to inform people about how free software works in practice. The first document, "Contributing to Free Software", is in its second draft - comments are encouraged.

AFFS Grants

We last discussed this project at AFFSAC. An announcement will be being made shortly, in time for LinuxWorld, and anyone wanting to help is invited to contact us.

Constitutional matters and Standing Orders

Various operational matters have been discussed in the past: whether or not the consitution should be changed, whether or not AFFS should incorporate, and what standing orders we should adopt. Anyone interested in these procedural/operational matters is most welcome to join in. We will have a list called "affs-project" available very soon; this will be for discussion of what AFFS should be doing, and how it should operate - interested parties should join that list when it is announced.

The Association For Free Software