Copyright laws soon to become a problem? COPYLEFT is the answer

Free Software – Logiciel libre – Software libre

US software freedom activist and computer programmer:
Richard Stallman

“Democracy is sick in the US, government monitors your Internet” - April 16, 2009

American software freedom activist Richard Stallman, better known as the author of GNU General Public License, joined RT to give his comments on modern software copyright laws, and the risks of cyber sneaking.

Stallman interview on free software

CNL Editor’s Note:   Who is Richard Stallman?

Richard Stallman (extracts)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Richard Matthew Stallman (born March 16, 1953)  is an American software freedom activist and computer programmer. In September 1983, he launched the GNU Project to create a free Unix-like operating system, and he has been the project’s lead architect and organizer. With the launch of the GNU Project, he initiated the free software movement; in October 1985 he founded the Free Software Foundation.

Stallman pioneered the concept of copyleft, and he is the main author of several copyleft licenses including the GNU General Public License, the most widely used free software license. Since the mid-1990s, Stallman has spent most of his time advocating for free software, as well as campaigning against software patents, digital rights management, and what he sees as excessive extension of copyright laws. Stallman has also developed a number of pieces of widely used software, including the original Emacs, the GNU Compiler Collection, the GNU Debugger,and various tools in the GNU coreutils. He co-founded the League for Programming Freedom in 1989.

Stallman announced the plan for the GNU operating system in September 1983 on several ARPANET mailing lists and USENET.

In 1985, Stallman published the GNU Manifesto, which outlined his motivation for creating a free operating system called GNU, which would be compatible with Unix. The name GNU is a recursive acronym for “GNU’s Not Unix.” Soon after, he started a non-profit corporation called the Free Software Foundation to employ free software programmers and provide a legal infrastructure for the free software movement. Stallman is the nonsalaried president of the FSF, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in Massachusetts. Stallman popularized the concept of copyleft, a legal mechanism to protect the modification and redistribution rights for free software. It was first implemented in the GNU Emacs General Public License, and in 1989 the first program-independent GNU General Public License (GPL) was released.

In 1991, Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student, used the GNU development tools to produce the Linux kernel. The existing programs from the GNU project were readily ported to run on the resultant platform; most sources use the name Linux to refer to the general-purpose operating system thus formed. This has been a longstanding naming controversy in the free software community. Stallman argues that not using GNU in the name of the operating system unfairly disparages the value of the GNU project and harms the sustainability of the free software movement by breaking the link between the software and the free software philosophy of the GNU project.

Stallman has written many essays on software freedom and since the early 1990s has been an outspoken political campaigner for the free software movement. The speeches he has regularly given are titled The GNU project and the Free Software movement, The Dangers of Software Patents, and Copyright and Community in the age of computer networks. In 2006 and 2007, during the eighteen month public consultation for the drafting of version 3 of the GNU General Public License, he added a fourth topic explaining the proposed changes.

In 1999, Stallman called for development of a free on-line encyclopedia through the means of inviting the public to contribute articles. The resulting GNUPedia was eventually retired in favour of the emerging Wikipedia, which had similar aims and was enjoying greater success.

Stallman has also helped and supported the International Music Score Library Project in getting back online, after it had been taken down on October 19, 2007 following a cease and desist letter from Universal Edition.

Stallman places great importance on the words and labels people use to talk about the world, including the relationship between software and freedom. He untiringly asks people to say free software and GNU/Linux, and to avoid the terms intellectual property and piracy (in relation to copyright).

Stallman rejects a common alternative term, open source software, because it does not call to mind what Stallman sees as the value of the software: freedom. Thus it will not inform people of the freedom issues, and will not lead to people valuing and defending their freedom.Two alternatives which Stallman does accept are software libre and unfettered software, but free software is the term he asks people to use in English.

Stallman repeatedly asks that the term GNU/Linux, which he pronounces “GNU slash Linux”, be used to refer to the operating system created by combining the GNU system and the Linux kernel. Stallman refers to this operating system as “a variant of GNU, and the GNU Project is its principal developer.” He claims that the connection between the GNU project’s philosophy and its software is broken when people refer to the combination as merely Linux. Starting around 2003, he began also using the term GNU+Linux, which he pronounces “GNU plus Linux”, to prevent others from pronouncing the phrase “GNU/Linux” as “GNU Linux”, which would erroneously imply that the Linux kernel is maintained by the GNU project.

Along with his native English, Stallman is also fluent enough in French and Spanish

Stallman argues that software users should have the freedom to share with their neighbor and to be able to study and make changes to the software that they use. He maintains that attempts by proprietary software vendors to prohibit these acts are antisocial and unethical. The phrase “software wants to be free” is often incorrectly attributed to him, and Stallman argues that this is a misstatement of his philosophy.He argues that freedom is vital for the sake of users and society as a moral value, and not merely for pragmatic reasons such as possibly developing technically superior software.


Stallman has received the following recognition for his work:

Selected publications

Stallman has written and been the subject of several books, including:

Papers in technical and academic journals
  • Stallman, Richard M; Sussman, Gerald J (November 1975). Heuristic Techniques in Computer-Aided Circuit Analysis. CAS-22 (11). IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems.
  • Stallman, Richard M; Sussman, Gerald J (1977). Forward Reasoning and Dependency-Directed Backtracking In a System for Computer-Aided Circuit analysis. Artificial Intelligence 9. pp. 135–196.
  • Richard Stallman, Reevaluating Copyright: The Public Must Prevail, Oregon Law Review 75(1) 1996.
  • Stallman, Richard M (2009). Viewpoint: Why “open source” misses the point of free software. Communications of the ACM 52(6). pp. 31–33. doi:10.1145/1516046.1516058.
  • Stallman, Richard M (2010). Is digital inclusion a good thing? How can we make sure it is?. 48. Communications Magazine, IEEE. pp. 112–118. doi:10.1109/MCOM.2010.5402673.
Selected Essays

Stallman has four topics that he has spoken on often:

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Interview de Richard STALLMAN – Créateur logiciel libre, GPL et GNU

Richard Stallman nous parle de logiciel libre mais aussi de la culture libre. Il est interviewé par Jonathan Le Lous, Intelli’N TV.
Ce contenu est en CC BY SA et est disponible en format OGV sur le site (en cours de maintenance)

Richard Stallman y el software libre en las escuelas

Related video:
Liberating software

Richard Stallman – Software Freedom Activist

The computer world is divided in two confronting camps with two totally different philosophies. On the one side are companies that sell programs to make money. On the other are people who believe software must be totally free. Generally paid software dominates, so why don’t more people go for the free alternative. And what does that mean for intellectual property? We’re asking one of the leaders of the free software movement, programmer-turned-philosopher Richard Stallman.

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