I scorched my shorthand notebook at this session. Richard Stallman was a mine of quotable quotes. And not at all dry and techy – he started his address with a veritable barrage of jokes – about Wellington’s weather (gumboots/Wellingtons, furniture made from punga – fern-iture).
Chair Brenda Chawner named Stallman as “the most influential person no-one has heard of”. And my, what influences – WWW guru Tim Berners-Lee and Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales both namecheck the influence of Mr Stallman.
As the LIANZA 2009 Conference blog reports: “Richard Stallman pioneered the concept of copyleft, and is the main author of the GNU General Public License, the most widely used free software license. Twenty-five years ago he launched the GNU operating system. GNU is free software: everyone has the freedom to copy it and redistribute it, as well as to make changes either large or small. The GNU/Linux system, basically the GNU operating system with Linux added, is used on tens of millions of computers today.”
Before he launched into copyright (the topic of the address), he explained the concept of software freedom:
0. Run the programme as you wish
1. Allow people to study source code to change it
2. Help your neighbour – redistribute
3. Contribute to the community – publish your modified version
If any of these components is missing from software, Stallman would define it as proprietary.
Here are some of the quotes from the session, but I’ll expand on this more later – there was a lot to take in, particularly in relation to e-books.
QUOTE 1: ALL SOFTWARE SHOULD BE FREE SO ALL USERS CAN BE FREE
QUOTE 2: THROW WINDOWS OUT OF THE COMPUTER, OR THROW THE COMPUTER OUT THE WINDOW
(Microsoft is entering your computer’s back door and can forcibly install software changes – therefore Microsoft has owned your computer)
QUOTE 3: COPYRIGHT NO LONGER FITS WITH THE TECHNOLOGY
(It came from the era of the printing press and doesn’t reflect today’s digital world. Copyright is now a restriction on the general public by publishers in the name of authors)
QUOTE 4: WE ARE IN A PAY PER VIEW UNIVERSE
(DRM Digital Rights Management is trying to make us pay for every view – how would this apply to books?)
QUOTE 5: DRM = DIGITAL RESTRICTIONS MANAGEMENT
QUOTE 6: SONY SHREDDER (Reader), AMAZON SWINDLE (Kindle)
QUOTE 7: A WORLD WHERE NOBODY LENDS BOOKS TO ANYONE ANYMORE … OTHER READERS WILL NO LONGER BE YOUR FRIEND, BECAUSE YOU’LL BE ACTING LIKE A JERK
QUOTE 8: PIRACY IS A PROPAGANDA TERM. SHARING ISN’T THE MORAL EQUIVALENT OF ATTACKING SHIPS