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"Free Speech in a Technological Society Means Technological Free Speech," Says Moglen

"Free Speech in a Technological Society Means Technological Free Speech," Says Moglen

[All quotes are courtesy the transcript being hosted currently at groklaw.net.] 


The goal of the FSF

"The goal of the Free Software Movement is to enable people to understand, to learn from, to improve, to adapt, and to share the technology that increasingly runs every human life. ... This idea lay behind my dear friend and colleague, Richard Stallman's, intense desire, beginning in the early 1980's, to bring about a world in which all the computer software needed by anybody to do anything would be available on terms which permitted free access to the knowledge that that software contained and a free opportunity to make more knowledge and to improve on the existing technology by modification and sharing."

"Free software...is the single greatest technical reference library on Planet Earth"

"Free software, of which the operating system kernel called Linux is one very important example among thousands, free software is the single greatest technical reference library on Planet Earth, as of now. The reason I say that is that free software is the only corpus of information fixed in a tangible form, through which anyone, anywhere, can go from naivete to the state of the art in a great technical subject - what computers can be made to do - solely by consulting material that is freely available for adaptation and reuse, in any way that she or he may want."


"I wish Mr McBride luck"

"Mr McBride's claim is that he is going out of business because somebody has taken what belongs to him. That's a lawsuit. As it turns out, however, the people he believes have taken what don't belong to him aren't us. His theory is that various people promised AT&T at various times that they would do or refrain from doing various things, that some of the people who promised AT&T in the old days to do or refrain from doing various things broke those promises, and that out of the breaking of those promises, Linux, a computer program distributed under free terms, benefitted.

Mr McBride may be right about that or he may be wrong. We do not know what the contents of those contracts are in general terms, and we do not even know, as Mr. McBride pointed out to you when he was here, that he is the beneficiary of those contracts. He is presently in litigation trying to prove that he has what he claims to have -- certain contract rights which he claims were conveyed to him by Novell. I have no opinion about whose rights those are, and I wish Mr. McBride luck in his litigation over that question."


"I was perfectly happy to roll any time."

"To those who like to say there has never been a court test of the GPL, I have one simple thing to say: Don't blame me. I was perfectly happy to roll any time. It was the defendants who didn't want to do it. And when for ten solid years, people have turned down an opportunity to make a legal argument, guess what? It isn't any good.

The GPL has succeeded for the last decade, while I have been tending it, because it worked, not because it failed or was in doubt. Mr McBride and his colleagues now face that very same difficulty, and the fellow on the other side is IBM. A big, rich, powerful company that has no intention of letting go."


"trusted computing...means computers that users can’t trust"

"It is precisely because software is free, that the owners of culture have to occupy the hardware of the Net in order to make good their business model. Free software, like, for example, Ian Clark’s Freenet or other forms of free software that engages in peer-to-peer sharing of data, or for that matter just free software like TCP/IP which is meant for sharing data, presents overwhelming obstacles to people who want every single bitstream to bear requirements of ownership and distribution inside it and to go only to the places that have paid to receive it.

The result is an increasing movement to create what is in truly Orwellian fashion referred to as trusted computing, which means computers that users can’t trust. In order to continue to move for the freedom of knowledge in 21st century society, we have to prevent trusted computing and its various ancillary details from constituting the occupation of the hardware of the Net, to prevent the hardware from running free software that shares information freely with people who want to share. Beating the trusted computing challenge is a difficult legal problem, more difficult for the lawyer in dealing with licensing and the putting together of software products than the original problem presented by freeing free software in the first place. This, more than the improvement of the free software distribution structure as we currently know it, is the problem most before my mind these days."

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