Free Software / Open Source

Richard M. Stallman: Coming to Town July 5th

by Joey deVilla on June 30, 2007

Richard M. Stallman as St. iGNUtius: Free as in “Freaky”

On Thursday, July 5th, Free Software Foundation founder Richard M. Stallman will be speaking at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga Campus. His topic will be Copyright vs. Community in the Age of Computer Networks.

The talk is co-sponsored by U of T’s Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences and Knowledge Media Design Institute. It will be a non-technical talk, and everyone from hard-nerds to laypeople are encouraged to attend.

Here’s the abstract for the talk, taken from Greg Wilson’s blog

Copyright developed in the age of the printing press, and was designed to fit with the system of centralized copying imposed by the printing press. But the copyright system does not fit well with computer networks, and only draconian punishments can enforce it.

The global corporations that profit from copyright are lobbying for draconian punishments, and to increase their copyright powers, while suppressing public access to technology. But if we seriously hope to serve the only legitimate purpose of copyright—to promote progress, for the benefit of the public—then we must make changes in the other direction.

The presentation will take place on Thursday, July 5th at 5:00 p.m. at Matthews Auditorium, Room 137, Kaneff Center, University of Toronto, 3359 Mississauga Road North, Missisauga. The topic will be free as in speech, and admission will be free as in beer.


Graphic: Flying GNU and Penguin
Free as in godawful design.

In case you hadn’t heard (or, in case you actually cared), the Free Software Foundation is releasing version 3 of the GPL today. As you might expect, today’s iPhone release is eclipsing GPL v3’s release, but the FSF are undeterred in their mission. In fact, they’re using this coincidence to remind you that the iPhone is a proprietary device with proprietary software created by a proprietary company:

Peter Brown, the executive director of the Boston-based FSF, is also anticipating that the iPhone will include some free software licensed under the GPL. “On June 29, Steve Jobs and Apple will release a product crippled with proprietary software and digital restrictions: crippled, because a device that isn’t under the control of its owner works against the interests of its owner,” he said.

“We know that Apple has built its operating system, OS X, and its Web browser, Safari, using GPL-covered work. It will be interesting to see to what extent the iPhone uses GPL’d software,” he said.

Version 3 of the GPL fights the most recent attempts to take the freedom out of free software, and attacks “Tivoization”—devices that are built with free software but use technical measures to prevent users from making modifications to the software—which could prove to be a problem for Apple and the iPhone, he said.

Of course, if Free Software were the deciding factor for consumers, the GP2X would be the hot ticket in handheld games, not the Nintendo DS. And the hot console would be the…well, the Free Software console that someone will work on, as soon as they’re done with the HURD.

As much as I love and use Free Software, I’ve become quite cynical about its major proponents and figureheads. Whenever I hear someone say “As a card-carrying member of the FSF”, I automatically equate it in my mind with Grampa Simpson’s declartion, “I am not a crackpot!” [MP3 link]

Graphic: Grampa Simpson yelling at someone
Click the image to hear an MP3 of Grampa Simpson saying “I am not a crackpot!”