Following the attacks earlier this week by Microsoft on the free software movement the Free Software Foundation has set up a new activist wing to fight back. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) last week announced the creation of a new activist campaigns team to organise public support into action on software freedom issues.

The new team will be composed of two campaigns managers and an international group of volunteers, with one position to be filled by current staff member, John Sullivan, and the other by new appointee, Joshua Gay. They will work together on the FSF campaigns and, and launch additional campaigns in the near future.

In announcing the decision to create the campaigns team, FSF executive director Peter Brown spoke about the recent attempts by Microsoft to use software patents as the basis of an attack against free software. "Microsoft continues to threaten the freedom of all computer users with vague claims of software-patent infringement. Although more people than ever before in the US have the technical capabilities to develop software, the blight of patents prevents them from making useful advancements.

"As such, we need to ask, what is the best way to eliminate the specter of software patents so that free software development can flourish, and how do we get organised to make it happen?"

With the expanding use of free software, the defense of its ethical principles is becoming more important. In addition to software patents, other proprietary software schemes like Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and Treacherous Computing [the FSF's versions of the names] threaten to stifle free software development and shackle users to proprietary software.

"In the early years of the free software movement, the FSF worked to solve the problem of proprietary software by funding free software development. With the creation of this campaigns team, we are expanding our work to help clear the way politically and publicly for free software," said John Sullivan.

On joining the campaigns team, Joshua Gay said, "I am excited to be joining the staff of the Free Software Foundation at such an exciting and important time. I look forward to working with John Sullivan and continuing the momentum of,, and community adoption of GPLv3. Most of all, I hope to begin reaching out and working with the many communities that value and appreciate the importance of software freedom."