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Putting the price tag on free software

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The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has launched a new fundraising campaign, following an EC decision not to award the group public monies.

The group needs around €10,000 per month to keep going at its current level, and wants to double this budget so that it can expand its activities. It also wants to put down roots and set up a real-world office.

The FSFE is the European offshoot of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), an organisation set up in 1985 to promote computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. It is responsible for the GNU Project, so named because it is fun to say, according to the group's website.

Georg Greve, FSFE president, told The Register that the group is already overwhelmed by requests for its support and involvement from the free software community. As well as this reactive kind of work, FSFE wants to run other projects such as building a GNU business network. Lack of funding has put these projects on the back burner.

Greve argues that market rules are stacked in favour of proprietory software, and that this is compounded by a consumer expectation that software should be proprietory. The GNU Business Network would provide a contrasting view.

"The GNU Business Network was first concieved around 2001 with the vision to foster and support commercial business with Free Software, supporting Free Software companies and those on their way to Free Software." Greve said, in an email interview with El Reg. "It would provide extensive networking among companies, customers and developers on the grounds of a truly neutral instance that has no interest but Free Software itself."

Projects like the GNU Business Network need the backing of companies that will benefit from it, he said: "Currently, most of our support comes from individuals who want us to keep doing our job. It is time that companies also do their part."

Anyone with spare cash and an interest in free software should surf their way over to here. ®

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