[Fsf-friends] 'Software ought to be free, free,
Frederick Noronha [फ्रेडरिक नोरोन्या]
Thu Jun 7 01:56:21 IST 2007
'Software ought to be free, free, free'
IANS[WEDNESDAY, JUNE 06, 2007 01:15:17 PM]
'Software ought to be free, free, free'
IANS[ WEDNESDAY, JUNE 06, 2007 01:15:17 PM]
NEW DELHI: Eben Moglen, an architect of the GNU General Public License
and one of the greatest legal minds in the world of free software, is
currently touring India on a mission to promote his message: "anything
that is worth copying is worth sharing".
Hacker-turned-law-professor Moglen has argued that free software is a
fundamental requirement for a free society over-dependent on technical
Moglen, professor of law and legal history at Columbia University,
served pro bono as general counsel for the Free Software Foundation.
He is also the chairman of Software Freedom Law Center.
New Delhi-based lawyer Mishi Choudhary has been working to build an
India branch of the Software Freedom Law Center.
Called the 'legal guardian of the Free Software movement', Moglen now
oversees the crafting of the crucial General Public License, version
Free software is at the other extreme away from proprietorial
software. Legal protection for creating and sharing free software is
seen as having become more important at times when dominant market
player Microsoft has alleged patent violations by the free software
The GNU General Public License is a widely used free software license,
originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project. Moglen is
the legal brain behind strengthening the GPL and making sure it works.
GPL allows users of a free software computer programme the rights for
it to be used, studied and modified without restriction, and be copied
and redistributed in a way that ensure that further recipients also
have these freedoms.
Version 3 of the GPL (GPLv3) is being written by Richard Stallman,
with legal counsel from Eben Moglen and his Software Freedom Law
Center. Moglen was in India last year too, when he revved up
activities for a Software Freedom Law Centre in New Delhi.
In India this time, Moglen spends two weeks till mid-June, meeting
policy makers, lawyers and software professionals.
India is itself seen as a fast-rising battleground, where the growing
army of software programmers will crucially help decide the software
future of the planet, whether it turns proprietorial or "free".
Others like free software movement founder Stallman and Microsoft
founder Bill Gates have also been making repeated trips to India in
Free software enthusiasts term proprietorial software "unfree" and
the political influence of this technology movement is visible from
the logo of the Free Software Foundation-India, which has a
computer-age CD shaped in the form of a spinning-wheel charkha (the
symbol of Indian independence) and a motto which says "weave your own
Moglen holds a discussion on 'The Death of Proprietary Culture' at
Thiruvananthapuram (June 6) and holds an address again on software
patents in New Delhi (June 9).
On June 11, he moves to Hyderabad, to address the legal fraternity
at the Andhra Pradesh High Court and give a talk at the NALSAR
University of Law.
"One of the purposes of his visit is setting up (of the Software
Freedom Law Centre in New Delhi)," said Free Software Foundation-India
campaigner Arun M.
In Thiruvananthapuram there will also be a symposium on June 6 on
"Patents, Copyrights and Knowledge Commons" organised by Kerala State
Planning Board, Kerala State IT Mission and Free Software Foundation
of India, organisers of the event announced.
While speaking in New Delhi, during his August 2006 visit, Moglen
had remarked: "Anything that is worth copying is worth sharing." He
also argued: "The more we give away, the richer we become."
He argues that the idea of proprietary software is as ludicrous as
having "proprietary mathematics" or "proprietary geometry". This would
convert the subjects from "something you can learn" into "something
you must buy".
Moglen has criticised what he calls the "reification of
selfishness". He has said: "A world full of computers which you can't
understand, can't fix and can't use (because it is controlled by
inaccessible proprietary software) is a world controlled by machines."
He also disapproves of trends that result in "excluding people from
knowledge", and has called for a "sensible respect for both the
creators and users" of the software code.
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