It is now known why Stallman has returned to the FSF and this once again puts the Foundation's decision-making process on the table.

The Free Software Foundation, (FSF) re-admitted founder Richard M. Stallman (RMS) to its council at the end of March and this caught everyone, including FSF members and staff, by surprise.

The controversy has been great since then. It should be remembered, as we will detail later, that Stallman had to resign in 2019 from his position at MIT CSAIL (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab), as well as from the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation, which he founded in 1985, and from the that he was president. This was as a consequence of the pressure he received after the computer scientist linked up with Jeffrey Epstein, convicted of trafficking in minors and a man very well positioned with well-known people from all over the world.

The power of the FSF Board of Directors

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It was already publicly known that the FSF Board of Directors had voted for him to return. What is just known now is who decided the return. According to ZDnet, in a note from current FSF President and Treasurer Geoffrey Knauth, the FSF has revealed that the "voting members" were simply "the board of directors", with the exception of Alexandre Oliva, whose only task is to nominate and elect the board of directors.

In other words, the bases or someone beyond the Board of Directors had nothing to decide in this controversy. It should be remembered that The Board of Directors is comprised of Stallman's "longtime" friends and associates.. ZDnet explains that there are no term limits for council members. Sometimes, voting members have removed council membersBut the FSF has not disclosed how or when it happened.

Following the March 2021 controversy over the election of Richard Stallman to the board, the union formally asked for direct staff involvement. To all this, the FSF also wanted to declare that: "The members of the board of directors are not compensated for their work as members" of this body.

Anyway, and since March, there have already been some other changes. For example, the appointment of an FSF staff member, Ian Kelling, as a board member. This was because "the staff wanted more access to the council."

There are no term limits for council members. From time to time, voting members have removed council members, but the FSF has not disclosed how or when it happened. RMS was not removed from the board, rather he resigned in 2019.

Bylaws will be rewritten

Looking to the future, the board of directors will rewrite the FSF bylaws, including the role of the board of directors. Among the plans, it is stated that a consultant is being sought to help the council review the organization and its statutes. This is being done to ensure that the FSF remains true to its mission of user freedom, regardless of changes. In particular, the FSF wants to secure the future of the various GNU general public licenses.

Some council members, in addition to Geoffrey Knauth, treasurer and president, are planning to leave the FSF council. The FSF considers that it needs "attract a new generation of software freedom activists and grow the movement"So the FSF is looking for new members.

Despite the fact that with Stallman's reinstatement, the controversy has led to Red Hat withdrawing its financial support, according to the treasurer, "the FSF is in good financial health." From the FSF's income, "the Direct business support accounted for less than 3% of FSF revenue"while the Foundation" has more associate members than at any time in its history. "

Stallman has been silent since rejoining the FSF board. According to the FSF, "continues giving talks on free software, in a personal capacityAnd when he does, he sells products from the FSF store or recruits volunteers for the FSF. "

This is the controversy that led to Stallman's resignation in 2019


As Stallman himself said at the time, this was due to "a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations." These "misunderstandings" come in the context of some emails and Stallman's statements about the relationship between MIT and Epstein.

That "misunderstanding" was an email from Stallman himself, commenting on the case of Marvin Minsky, an MIT professor who was charged with sexual assault, after a woman testified that she was forced to have sex with him in the Epstein complex. Among other issues, the FSF creator argued that the alleged victim "appeared before Minsky totally willing," as revealed by a former MIT student.

This brought back Stallman statements from 2011 talking about child pornography and claiming that "the 'child pornography' could be a picture of you or your lover that the two of you shared, what would be wrong with that"?