Software Freedom Activist is Next Speaker in SOU’s Civility Series

(Ashland, Ore.) – Dr. Richard Stallman, who launched the free software movement in 1983, will speak Tuesday, April 3, and Wednesday, April 4, on the SOU campus as part of this year’s campus theme, “Civility.” Stallman’s Tuesday presentation, “Copyright vs. Community in the Age of Computer Networks,” will be at 7:00 p.m. in the Meese Auditorium of the Art Building.

Richard Stallman

According to Stallman, “Copyright developed in the age of the printing press, but that 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. 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.”

Stallman’s Wednesday talk, “For a Free Digital Society,” will be at 3:30 p.m. in Room 118 of the Science Building. “Activities directed at ‘including’ more people in the use of digital technology are predicated on the assumption that such inclusion is invariably a good thing,” says Stallman.  “It appears so, when judged solely by immediate practical convenience.  However, if we also judge in terms of human rights, whether digital inclusion is good or bad depends on what kind of digital world we are to be included in.  If we wish to work towards digital inclusion as a goal, it behooves us to make sure it is the good kind.”

In 1984 Stallman started the development of the GNU operating system (www.gnu.org). GNU is free software; everyone has the freedom to copy it and redistribute it, with or without changes. The GNU/Linux system, basically the GNU operating system with Linux added, is used on tens of millions of computers today.

Stallman has received the ACM Grace Hopper Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award, and the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Betterment, as well as several honorary doctorates.

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