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free software movement, which is the motivation for our development of
the free software operating system GNU.</p>
-<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: yellow; color:
red; padding: 8px;">NEW</span> — <a
href="/philosophy/pirate-party.html">How the Swedish Pirate Party Platform
Backfires on Free Software</a></p>
+<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: yellow; color:
red; padding: 8px;">NEW</span> — <a
href="/philosophy/digital-inclusion-in-freedom.html">Is Digital Inclusion A
Good Thing? How Can We Make Sure It Is?</a></p>
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<h4>Cultural and Social Issues</h4>
+ <li><a href="/philosophy/digital-inclusion-in-freedom.html">Is Digital
Inclusion A Good Thing? How Can We Make Sure It Is?</a></li>
<li><a href="/philosophy/wsis.html">World Summit on the Information
@@ -457,7 +459,7 @@
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+$Date: 2009/10/17 15:21:23 $
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+<!--#include virtual="/server/header.html" -->
+<title>Is Digital Inclusion A Good Thing? How Can We Make Sure It Is?</title>
+<!--#include virtual="/server/banner.html" -->
+<h2>Is Digital Inclusion A Good Thing? How Can We Make Sure It Is?</h2>
+<p><font size=-1><a href="http://www.stallman.org/">Richard Stallman</a>
+<br /><font size=-1>President, Free Software Foundation</font>
+Digital information and communication technology offers the
+possibility of a new world of freedom. It also offers possibilities
+of surveillance and control which dictatorships of the past could only
+struggle to establish. The battle to decide between these
+possibilities is being fought now.
+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. It appears so, when judged solely by
+immediate practical convenience. However, if we judge also in terms
+of human rights, the question of 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.
+The digital world today faces six major threats to users' freedom:
+surveillance, censorship, proprietary software, restricted formats,
+software as a service, and copyright enforcement. A program to
+promote ``digital inclusion'' must take account of these threats, so
+as to avoid exposing its intended beneficiaries to them. First we look
+at the nature of these threats; then we propose measures to resist them,
+collectively and individually.
+Digital surveillance systems are spreading. The UK uses computers
+with cameras to track all car travel. China plans to identify and
+photograph everyone that uses an Internet cafe.<a name="tex2html1"
+Cell phones are Big Brother's tools. Some can be activated by remote
+command to listen to the user's conversations without giving any sign
+of listening, by the police<a name="tex2html3"
+ href="#foot101"><sup>2</sup></a>and by unauthorized individuals.<a
+ href="#foot102"><sup>3</sup></a>Users are unable to stop this because the
software in the phone is not
+free/libre, thus not under the users' control.
+Cell phones also localize the user, even when set to ``idle.'' The
+phone network needs must know roughly where the phone is located in
+order to communicate with it, and can easily record that information
+permanently. However, networks are designed to locate phones far more
+accurately by triangulation. They can do it even better with GPS in
+the phone, with or without the user's consent.
+In many countries, universal digital surveillance does not record what
+you say, only who you talk with. But that is enough to be quite
+dangerous, since it allows the police to follow social networks. If a
+known dissident talks with you by phone or email, you are a candidate
+for labeling as a dissident. It is no use ceasing to communicate by
+phone or email with fellow dissidents when a dictator takes power,
+because his secret police will have access to records of your past
+The European Union mandates keeping records of all phone calls and
+email for periods up to two years. The stated purpose of this
+surveillance is to ``prevent terrorism.'' Bush's illegal surveillance
+of phone calls also cited this purpose. Non-state-sponsored terrorism
+is a real danger in a few countries, but the magnitude is often
+exaggerated; more people died in the US in September 2001 from car
+accidents than from terrorism, but we have no Global War on Accidents.
+By contrast, the practice of labeling political opposition as
+``terrorists,'' and using supposed ``anti-terror'' laws to infiltrate
+and sabotage their activities, threatens democracy everywhere. For
+instance, the US Joint Terrorism Task Force infiltrated a wide range
+of political opposition groups<a name="tex2html7"
+False accusations of ``terrorism'' are standard practice for
+suppressing political opposition. In the US, protesters who smashed
+windows at the 2008 Republican National Convention were charged with
+of ``terrorism.''<a name="tex2html9"
+ href="#foot104"><sup>5</sup></a>More recently, Iran described protesters
demanding a new election as
+ href="#foot105"><sup>6</sup></a> The
+generals who ruled most of South America in the 1970s offered
+precisely that justification for their systematic murder of
+A free society does not guarantee anonymity in what you do outside
+your home: it is always possible that someone will notice where you
+went on the street, or that a merchant will remember what you bought.
+This information is dispersed, not assembled for ready use. A
+detective can track down the people who noticed you and ask them for
+it; each person may or may not say what he knows about you. The
+effort required for this limits how often it is done.
+By contrast, systematic digital surveillance collects all the
+information about everyone for convenient use for whatever purpose,
+whether it be marketing, infiltration, or arrest of dissidents.
+Because this endangers the people's control over the state, we must
+fight against surveillance whether or not we oppose current government
+policies. Given of the surveillance and tracking cell phones do, I
+have concluded it is my duty to refuse to have one, despite the
+convenience it would offer. I have few secrets about my own travels,
+most of which are for publicly announced speeches, but we need to
+fight surveillance even if it is established while we have no
+particular secrets to keep.
+The UK car travel surveillance system has already been used against
+political dissidents.<a name="tex2html14"
+When the topic of Internet censorship is mentioned, people are likely
+to think of China, but many supposedly freedom-respecting countries
+have imposed censorship. Denmark's government has blocked access to a
+secret list of web pages. Australia's government wants to do
+likewise, but has met strong resistance, so instead it has forbidden
+links to a long list of URLs. Electronic Frontiers Australia was
+forced, under threat of fines of AUD 11,000 per day, to remove a link
+to an anti-abortion political web site.<a name="tex2html16"
+ href="#foot107"><sup>9</sup></a>Denmark's secret list of forbidden URLs was
leaked and posted on
+Wikileaks; that page is now on Australia's banned list.<a name="tex2html18"
+ href="#foot108"><sup>10</sup></a>Germany is on the verge of launching
Internet censorship.<a name="tex2html20"
+Censorship of the contents of web sites is also a threat. India just
+announced a broad plan of censorship that would effectively abolish
+freedom of the press on the Internet.<a name="tex2html22"
+Some European countries censor particular political views on the
+Internet. In the United States, people have been imprisoned as
+``terrorists'' for running a web site which discussed actions taken
+against experiments on animals.<a name="tex2html24"
+Another common excuse for censorship is the claim that ``obscene''
+works are dangerous. I agree that some works are obscene; for
+instance, the gruesome violence in the movie Pulp Fiction revolted me,
+and I will try never to see such a thing again. But that does not
+justify censoring it; no matter how obscene a work may be, censorship
+is more so. A variant of this excuse is ``protecting children,''
+which plays to the exaggerated and mostly misplaced fears of
+Censorship is nothing new. What is new is the ease and effectiveness
+of censorship on electronic communication and publication (even where
+a few wizards have ways to bypass it). China in 1960 achieved
+effective censorship by cutting its population off from the world, but
+that held back the country's development, which was painful for the
+regime as well as for the population. Today China uses digital
+technology to achieve effective political censorship without cutting
+itself off in other ways.<a name="tex2html27"
+SOFTWARE YOU CAN'T CONTROL
+In order for computer users to have freedom in their own computing
+activities, they must have control over the software they use. This
+means it must be <em>free software</em>, which I here call ``free/libre''
+so as to emphasize that this is a matter of freedom, not price.
+A program is free/libre if it gives the user these four essential
+0. Freedom to run the program as you wish.
+1. Freedom to study the source code, and change it to make the program
+do what you wish.
+2. Freedom to redistribute and/or republish exact copies. (This is
+the freedom to help your neighbor.)
+3. Freedom to distribute and/or publish copies of your modified versions.
+(This is the freedom to contribute to your community.)
+When software is free/libre, the users control what it does. A
+non-free or <em>proprietary</em> program is under the control of its
+developer, and functions as an instrument to give the developer
+control over the the users. It may be convenient, or it may not, but
+in either case it imposes on its users a social system that keeps them
+divided and helpless. Avoiding this injustice and giving users
+control over their computing requires the four freedoms. Freedoms 0
+and 1 give you control over your own computing, and freedom 3 enables
+users to work together to jointly control their computing, while
+freedom 2 means users are not kept divided.<a name="tex2html31"
+Many argue that free/libre software is impossible on theoretical
+economic grounds. Some of them misinterpret free/libre software as
+``gratis software''; others understand the term correctly, but either
+way they claim that businesses will never want to develop such
+software. Combining this with a theoretical premise such as ``Useful
+software can only be developed by paying programmers,'' they conclude
+that free software could never exist. This argument is typically
+presented elliptically in the form of a question such as, ``How can
+programmers make a living if software is free?'' Both premises, as
+well as the conclusion, contradict well-known facts; perhaps the
+elliptical questions are meant to obscure the premises so people will
+not compare them with the facts.
+We know that free software can be developed because so much of it
+exists. There are thousands of useful free programs,<a name="tex2html34"
+ href="#foot115"><sup>18</sup></a> and millions of users<a name="tex2html36"
+ href="#foot116"><sup>19</sup></a> run the
+ href="#foot117"><sup>20</sup></a>operating system. Thousands of programmers
write useful free software
+as volunteers.<a name="tex2html40"
+ href="#foot118"><sup>21</sup></a> Companies such as Red Hat, IBM, Oracle,
+and Google pay programmers to write free software. I do not know even
+approximately how many paid free software developers there are;
+studying the question would be useful. Alexandre Zapolsky of the free
+software business event Paris Capitale du Libre
+ href="http://www.paris-libre.org">http://www.paris-libre.org</a></tt>) said
in 2007 that the free software
+companies of France had over 10,000 employees.
+Most computer users use proprietary software, and are accustomed to
+letting a few companies control their computing. If you are one of
+them, you may have accepted the view that it is normal and proper for
+those companies, rather than you, to have control. You may also
+believe that ``reputable'' developers will not use their power to
+mistreat you. The fact is that they do.
+Microsoft Windows has features to spy on the user,<a name="tex2html43"
+ href="#foot119"><sup>22</sup></a>Digital Restrictions Management (DRM)
features designed to stop the
+user from making full use of his own files,<a name="tex2html45"
+ href="#foot120"><sup>23</sup></a> and an all-purpose back door with which
+Microsoft can forcibly change the software in any way at any
+ href="#foot121"><sup>24</sup></a>Microsoft can alter any software, not just
its own.<a name="tex2html49"
+ href="#foot122"><sup>25</sup></a>Cell phones tied to particular phone
networks may give the network a
+similar back door. MacOS also has DRM features designed to restrict
+The only known defense against malicious features is to insist on
+software that is controlled by the users: free/libre software. It is
+not a perfect guarantee, but the alternative is no defense at all. If
+code is law, those governed by it must have the power to decide what
+it should say.
+Restricted file formats impose private control over communication and
+publication. Those who control the formats control, in a general
+sense, society's use of information, since it can't be distributed or
+read/viewed without their permission.
+For instance, text files are often distributed in the secret Microsoft
+Word format, which other developers have only imperfectly been able to
+decode and implement. This practice is comparable to publishing books
+in a secret alphabet which only officially approved scribes know how
+to read. Italian public television (RAI) distributes video in VC-1
+format, whose specifications are available only under nondisclosure
+agreement from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
+Ironically, the SMPTE states this in Word file, which is not suitable
+to cite as a reference.<a name="tex2html51"
+ href="#foot123"><sup>26</sup></a>This standard has been partly decoded
through reverse engineering.
+Most music distribution on the Internet uses the patented MP3 format,
+and most video uses patented MPEG-4 formats such as DIVX and H.264.
+VC-1 is also patented.<a name="tex2html53"
+ href="#foot124"><sup>27</sup></a> Any software
+patent directly attacks every user's freedom to use her computer. Use
+of patented data formats is comparable to mandating that people use
+officially approved scribes rather than do their own reading and
+writing. Patents on MPEG formats have been used to attack and
+threaten developers and distributors of programs that can handle these
+formats, including free/libre programs. Some distributors of the
+GNU/Linux system, for instance Red Hat, do not dare to include support
+for these programs.
+A restricted format is a trap; any and all use of the format has the
+effect of pushing computer users into the trap. Inclusion in
+dependence on these formats is not a step forward.
+SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE
+Typical proprietary software gives you only a binary, whose actions
+are controlled by the developer, and not by you. A new practice
+called ``software as a service,'' or ``SaaS,'' gives you even less
+control. With SaaS you don't even get a copy of the program you can
+run. Instead, you send your data to a server, a program runs there,
+and the server sends you back the result. If users have a binary,
+they could reverse-engineer it and patch it if they are really
+determined. With SaaS, they can't even do that.
+Reverse engineering being so difficult, perhaps software as a service
+is little worse than proprietary software. The point, however, is
+that it is no better. For users to have control of their computing,
+they must avoid SaaS just as they must avoid proprietary software.
+For the preparation of this paper I was invited to use an IEEE site
+called <tt><a name="tex2html55"
+ href="pdf-express.org">pdf-express.org</a></tt> to convert my PDF file into
one with the
+embedded fonts required for the conference proceedings. Looking at
+that site, I concluded that it was an instance of software as a
+service, and therefore I should not use it. Another strike against it
+is that it requires users to identify themselves, which is gratuitous
+It's not that I'm specifically worried that this site is malicious. I
+cannot trust the IEEE implicitly, since I disapprove of its
+restrictions on redistributing the papers it publishes, but there is
+little scope in that particular site's job for intentional
+mistreatment of its users (aside from the gratuitous surveillance).
+However, the point is not whether this particular site abuses its
+power. The point is that we should not let ourselves become
+accustomed to granting others that sort of power over us. The habit
+of handing over control of our computing to others is a dangerous one.
+The way to resist the practice is to refuse invitations to follow it.
+The only way to maintain your control over your computing is to do it
+using your own copy of a free/libre program.
+COPYRIGHT AND SHARING
+The biggest conflict over freedom in the Internet is the War on
+Sharing: the attempt by the publishing industry to prevent Internet
+users from enjoying the capability to copy and share information.
+Copyright was established in the age of the printing press as an
+industrial regulation on the business of writing and publishing. The
+aim was to encourage the publication of a diversity of written works.
+The means used was to require publishers to get the author's
+permission to publish recent writings. This enabled authors to get
+income from publishers, which facilitated and encouraged writing. The
+general reading public received the benefit of this, while losing
+little: copyright restricted only publication, not the things an
+ordinary reader could do, so it was easy to enforce and met with
+little opposition. That made copyright arguably a beneficial system
+for the public, and therefore legitimate.
+Well and good--back then.
+The War on Sharing
+Nowadays, computers and networks provide superior means for
+distributing and manipulating information, including published
+software, musical recordings, texts, images, and videos. Networks
+offer the possibility of unlimited access to all sorts of data--an
+The works that people use to do practical jobs, such as software,
+recipes, text fonts, educational works and reference works, must be
+free/libre so that the users can control (individually and
+collectively) the jobs that they do with these works. That argument
+does not apply to other kinds of works, such as those which state what
+certain people thought, and artistic works, so it is not ethically
+obligatory for them to be free/libre. But there is a minimum freedom
+that the public must have for all published works: the freedom to
+share exact copies noncommercially. Sharing is good; sharing creates
+the bonds of society. When copying and sharing a book was so
+difficult that one would hardly ask such a large favor, the issue of
+freedom to share was moot. Today, the Internet makes sharing easy,
+and thus makes the freedom to share essential.
+One obstacle stands in the way of this utopia: copyright. Readers and
+listeners who make use of their new ability to copy and share
+published information are technically copyright infringers. The same
+law which formerly acted as a beneficial industrial regulation on
+publishers has now become a restriction on the public it was meant to
+In a democracy, a law that prohibits a popular and useful activity is
+usually soon relaxed. Not so where corporations have more political
+power than the public. The entertainment companies' lobby is
+determined to prevent the public from taking advantage of the power of
+their computers, and has found copyright a suitable tool. Under their
+influence, rather than relaxing copyright rules to permit productive
+and free use of the Internet, governments have made it stricter than
+ever, forbidding the act of sharing.
+The publishers and their friendly governments would like to go to any
+length they can get away with to wage the War on Sharing. In the US,
+the record companies' legal arm (the RIAA) regularly sues teenagers
+for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and one sharer was fined almost
+two million.<a name="tex2html56"
+ href="#foot125"><sup>28</sup></a>The French government recently passed a law
(HADOPI) to abolish the
+principle of due process of law, by punishing Internet users with
+disconnection on the mere accusation of copying. Only certain
+selected, government-approved organizations were empowered to make
+such accusations; thus, this law meant to abolish Liberté,
+Egalité, and Fraternité with one blow. The law was rejected as
+unconstitutional by the Constitutional Council.<a name="tex2html58"
+ href="#foot126"><sup>29</sup></a>A similar law in New Zealand was withdrawn
this year after public
+protests. The European Parliament recently voted against imposing
+similar injustice on the whole European Union, but the EU's weak form
+of democracy does not give Parliament the final decision. Some would
+like to go even further: a UK member of parliament proposed ten years'
+imprisonment for noncommercial sharing.
+The US, Canada, the European Union, and various other countries are
+engaged in negotiating the ``Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.''
+The negotiations are secret, but Canada reluctantly published a list
+of suggestions it received from private parties, and HADOPI-style
+punishment without trial was one of them.<a name="tex2html60"
+ href="#foot127"><sup>30</sup></a>The suggestion is likely to have come from
the copyright lobby, which
+has great influence in the US government and others, so the danger is
+not negligible. European officials may seek to use this treaty to
+circumvent the European Parliament, following a practice known as
+The corporations that profit most from copyright legally exercise it
+in the name of the authors (most of whom actually gain little). They
+would have us believe that copyright is a natural right of authors,
+and that we the public must suffer it no matter how painful it is.
+They call sharing ``piracy,'' equating helping your neighbor with
+attacking a ship.
+Public anger over these measures is growing, but it is held back by
+propaganda. Terms such as ``piracy,''<a name="tex2html62"
+ href="#foot128"><sup>31</sup></a> ``protecting
+authors'' and ``intellectual property,''<a name="tex2html64"
+ href="#foot129"><sup>32</sup></a> and claims that reading, viewing or
+anything without paying is ``theft,'' have convinced many readers that
+their rights and interests do not count. This propaganda implicitly
+assumes that publishers deserve the special power which they exercise
+in the name of the authors), and that we are morally obliged to suffer
+whatever measures might be needed to maintain their power.
+Digital restrictions management
+The publishers aim to do more than punish sharing. They have realized
+that by publishing works in encrypted format, which can be viewed
+only with software designed to control the users, they could gain
+unprecedented power over all use of these works. They could compel
+people to pay, and also to identify themselves, every time they wish
+to read a book, listen to a song, or watch a video. They could make
+people's copies disappear on a planned schedule. They could even make
+copies unreadable at will, if they have all-purpose back-doors such as
+found in Windows, or special features for the purpose.<a name="tex2html66"
+Designing products and media to restrict the user is called Digital
+Restrictions Management, or DRM.<a name="tex2html68"
+ href="#foot66"><sup>34</sup></a> Its purpose
+is an injustice: to deny computer users what would otherwise be their
+legal rights in using their copies of published works. Its method is
+a second injustice, since it imposes the use of proprietary software.
+The publishers gained US government support for their dream of total
+power with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). This
+law gave publishers power, in effect, to write their own copyright
+rules, by implementing them in the code of the authorized player
+software. Even reading or listening is illegal when the software
+is designed to block it.
+The DMCA has an exception: it does not forbid uses that qualify as
+``fair use.'' But it strips this exception of practical effect by
+censoring any software that people could use to do these things.
+Under the DMCA, any program that could be used to break digital
+handcuffs is banned unless it has other comparably important
+``commercially significant'' uses. (The denial of validity to any
+other kind of significance, such as social or ethical significance,
+explicitly endorses business' domination of society.) Practically
+speaking, the limited right to disobey your software jailer is
+meaningless since the means to do so is not available.
+Similar software censorship laws have since been adopted in the
+European Union, Australia, and New Zealand, and other countries.
+Canada has tried to do this for several years, but opposition there
+has blocked it. The publishers' lobbies seek to impose these
+restrictions on all countries; for instance, the US demands them in
+trade treaties. WIPO (the World ``Intellectual Property''
+Organization) helps, by promoting two treaties whose sole point is to
+require laws such as these. Signing these treaties does no good for a
+country's citizens, and there is no good reason why any country should
+sign them. But when countries do sign, politicians can cite
+``compliance with treaty obligations'' as an excuse for software
+We still have the same old freedoms in using paper books and other
+analog media. But if e-books replace printed books, those freedoms
+will not transfer. Imagine: no more used book stores; no more lending
+a book to your friend; no more borrowing one from the public
+library--no more ``leaks'' that might give someone a chance to read
+without paying. No more purchasing a book anonymously with cash--you
+can only buy an e-book with a credit card, thus enabling computerized
+surveillance--and public libraries become retail outlets. That is the
+world the publishers want for us. If you buy the Amazon Kindle (we
+call it the Swindle) or the Sony Reader (we call it the Shreader for
+what it threatens to do to books), you pay to establish that world.
+SUPPORTING THE ARTS
+The publishers tell us that a War on Sharing is the only way to keep
+art alive. Supporting the arts is a desirable goal, but it could not
+justify these means. Fortunately, it does not require them either.
+Public sharing of copies tends to call attention to obscure or niche
+works: when Monty Python put its video files on the net for download,
+its sales increased by a factor of over 200.<a name="tex2html69"
+ href="#foot131"><sup>35</sup></a>Meanwhile, digital technology also offers
new ways to support the
+The singer Jane Siberry (now known as Issa) offered her music for
+download through her own web site, allowing people to pay whatever
+amount they wish. (The site, <tt><a name="tex2html71"
+ href="sheeba.ca">sheeba.ca</a></tt>, currently says it is
+being redesigned but suggests the general policy will continue.) The
+average price paid per song was more than the $.99 that the major
+record companies charge.<a name="tex2html72"
+Bestsellers also can still do well without stopping people from
+sharing. Stephen King got hundreds of thousands of dollars selling a
+serialized unencrypted e-book with no technical obstacle to sharing of
+copies. Radiohead made millions in 2007 by inviting fans to copy an
+album and pay what they wished, while it was also shared on the Internet.
+In 2008, Nine Inch Nails released an album with permission to share
+copies and made 750,000 dollars in a few days.<a name="tex2html74"
+Even hampered by today's inconvenient methods of sending money to
+artists, voluntary contributions from fans can support them. Kevin
+Kelly, former editor of Wired Magazine, estimates the artist need only
+find approximately 1,000 true fans in order to earn a living from
+their support.<a name="tex2html76"
+But when computer networks provide an easy anonymous method for
+sending someone a small amount of money, without requiring a credit
+card, voluntary support for artists will become far more effective.
+Every player could have a button you can press, ``Click here to
+send the artists one dollar.'' (The optimal amount may vary between
+countries; in India, one rupee might be a better choice.) Wouldn't
+you press it, at least once a week?
+Why, today, would you hesitate to send one dollar to an artist, once a
+week or even once a day? Not because you would miss the dollar, but
+because of the inconvenience of sending it. Remove the inconvenience,
+and voluntary support for artists will soar.
+Another way to support the arts is with tax funds: perhaps
+with a special tax on blank media or Internet connectivity, or with
+general revenue.<a name="tex2html78"
+ href="#foot135"><sup>39</sup></a> If this is to succeed in supporting
+the state should distribute the tax money directly and entirely to
+them, and make sure it cannot under any pretext be taken from them by
+publishers such as record companies. Thus, in order to design this
+tax system to achieve the valid goal of ``supporting the arts,'' we
+must first reject the misguided goal of ``compensating the
+The state should not distribute this tax money in linear proportion to
+popularity, because that would give most of it to superstars,
+leaving little to support all the other artists. I therefore
+recommend using a function whose derivative is positive but tends
+towards zero, such as cube root. With cube root, if superstar A has
+1000 times the popularity of successful artist B, A will get 10 times
+as much money as B. (A linear system would give A 1000 times as much
+as B.) This way, although each superstar still gets a larger share
+than other artists, the superstars together will get only a small
+fraction of the funds, so that the system can adequately support a
+large number of fairly popular artists. This system would use its
+funds efficiently for the support of art.
+I propose this system for art because art is where the controversy is.
+There is no fundamental reason why a tax-based system should not also
+be used to support functional works that ought to be free/libre, such
+as software and encyclopedias, but there is a practical difficulty in
+doing so: it is common for those works to have thousands of coauthors,
+and figuring out the right way to divide the funds among them might be
+difficult even with the cooperation and generosity of everyone
+involved. Fortunately it appears not to be necessary to solve this
+problem, because people already put so much effort into developing
+free/libre functional works.
+Francis Muguet<a name="tex2html80"
+ href="#foot79"><sup>40</sup></a> and I have developed a new
+proposal called the Mécénat Global (or Global Patronage) which
+combines the idea of tax-support and voluntary payments.<a name="tex2html81"
+ href="#foot136"><sup>41</sup></a> Every Internet subscriber would
+pay a monthly fee to support certain arts that are shared on the
+Internet. Each user could optionally divide up to a certain maximum
+portion of her fee among her choice of works; the funds for each work
+would be divided among the creative contributors to the work (but not
+the publishers). The totals thus assigned to various artists would
+also provide a measure of each artist's popularity. The system would
+then distribute the rest of the money on the basis of that popularity,
+using a cube-root or similar tapering-off function.
+MAKING DIGITAL INCLUSION GOOD
+The paper so far describes the factors that can make digital inclusion
+good or bad. These factors are part of human society and subject to
+our influence. Beyond just asking whether and when digital inclusion
+is a good thing, we can consider how to make sure it is good.
+Defending freedom legally
+Full victory over the threats to digital freedom can only be achieved
+through changes in laws. Systematic collection or retention of
+information on any person using computers and/or networks should
+require a specific court order; travel and communication within any
+country should normally be anonymous. States should reject censorship
+and adopt constitutional protections against it. States should
+protect their computing sovereignty by using only free software, and
+schools should teach only free software in order to carry out their
+mission to educate good citizens of a strong, free and cooperating
+To respect computer users' freedom to operate their computers, states
+should not allow patents to apply to software or (more generally)
+using computers in particular ways. States should mandate their own
+use of freely implementable, publicly documented formats for all
+communication with the public, and should lead the private sector also
+to use only these formats. To make copyright acceptable in the
+network age, noncommercial copying and sharing of published works
+should be legal. Commercial use of DRM should be prohibited, and
+independently developed free software to access DRM formats should be
+To make these changes in laws happen, we need to organize. The
+Electronic Frontier Foundation (<tt><a name="tex2html83"
+ href="eff.org">eff.org</a></tt>) campaigns against
+censorship and surveillance. End Software Patents
+ href="endsoftpatents.org">endsoftpatents.org</a></tt>) and the League for
+ href="progfree.org">progfree.org</a></tt>) campaign against software
patents. The Free
+Software Foundation campaigns against DRM through the site
+Defending freedom personally
+While we fight these legislative battles, we should also personally
+reject products and services designed to take away our freedom. To
+resist surveillance, we should avoid identifying ourselves to web
+sites unless it is inherently necessary, and we should buy things
+anonymously--with cash, not with bank cards. To maintain control of
+our computing, we should not use proprietary software or software as a
+Above all, we should never buy or use products that implement DRM
+handcuffs unless we personally have the means to break them. Products
+with DRM are a trap; don't take the bait!
+Defending others' freedom
+We can take direct action to protect others' freedom in the digital
+world. For instance, we can remove the passwords from our wireless
+networks--it is safe, and it weakens government surveillance power.
+(The way to protect the privacy of our own Internet communications, to
+the extent that it is possible, is with end-to-end encryption.) If
+others use enough of the bandwidth to cause actual inconvenience, we
+need to protect ourselves, but we can try gentle methods first (such
+as talking with the neighbors, or setting a password occasionally for
+a day or two), and keep the option of a permanent password as a last
+When we publish, we should grant the users of our work the freedoms
+they deserve, by applying an explicit license appropriate to the type
+of work. For works that state your thoughts or observations, and
+artistic works, the license should permit at least noncommercial
+redistribution of exact copies; any Creative Commons license is
+suitable. (I insisted on such a license for this article.) Works
+that do functional jobs, such as software, reference works and
+educational works, should carry a free/libre license that grants users
+the four freedoms.
+inclusion in freedom
+In our efforts to help others in practical ways, we must avoid doing
+them harm at a deeper level. Until freedom is generally assured in
+Internet use, projects for digital inclusion must take special care
+that the computing they promote is the freedom-respecting kind. This
+means using free/libre software--certainly not Windows or MacOS.
+This means using free, documented formats, without DRM. It also means
+not exposing the supposed beneficiaries to surveillance or censorship
+through the computing practices to which they are being introduced.
+<dt><a name="foot100">... cafe.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html2"
+<dt><a name="foot101">... police</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html4"
+<dt><a name="foot102">... individuals.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html6"
+<dt><a name="foot103">... groups</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html8"
+<dt><a name="foot104">... ``terrorism.''</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html10"
+ <tt><a name="tex2html12"
+<dd>See the documentary, Condor: the First War on
+ Terror, by Rodrigo Vásquez (2003).
+<dt><a name="foot106">... dissidents.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html15"
+<dt><a name="foot107">... site.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html17"
+<dt><a name="foot108">... list.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html19"
+<dt><a name="foot109">... censorship.</a><a
+<dd>See <tt><a name="tex2html21"
+<dt><a name="foot110">... Internet.</a><a
+<dd>See <tt><a name="tex2html23"
+<dt><a name="foot28">... animals.</a><a
+<dd>I support medical research
+ using animals, as well as abortion rights. Our defense of political
+ freedom should not be limited to causes we agree with.
+ <tt><a name="tex2html26"
+<dt><a name="foot112">... ways.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html28"
+<dd>See <tt><a name="tex2html30"
+<dt><a name="foot114">... divided.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html32"
+ <tt><a name="tex2html33"
+<dt><a name="foot115">... programs,</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html35"
+<dt><a name="foot116">... users</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html37"
+<dd>See <tt><a name="tex2html39"
+<dt><a name="foot118">... volunteers.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html41"
+ for some of their motives.
+<dt><a name="foot119">... user,</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html44"
+<dt><a name="foot120">... files,</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html46"
+ <tt><a name="tex2html48"
+<dt><a name="foot122">... own.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html50"
+<dt><a name="foot123">... reference.</a><a
+<dd>The standard in machine-readable form
+ is only available to be ``leased'';
+ <tt><a name="tex2html52"
+<dt><a name="foot124">... patented.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html54"
+<dt><a name="foot125">... million.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html57"
+<dt><a name="foot126">... Council.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html59"
+<dt><a name="foot127">... them.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html61"
+<dt><a name="foot128">... ``piracy,''</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html63"
+<dt><a name="foot129">... property,''</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html65"
for why this propaganda
+ term is harmful.
+<dt><a name="foot130">... purpose.</a><a
+<dd>See <tt><a name="tex2html67"
+<dt><a name="foot66">... DRM.</a><a
+<dd>Those publishers, in an act
+ of doublespeak, call it ``Digital Rights Management''.
+<dt><a name="foot131">... 200.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html70"
+<dt><a name="foot132">... charge.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html73"
+<dt><a name="foot133">... days.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html75"
+<dt><a name="foot134">... support.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html77"
+<dt><a name="foot135">... revenue.</a><a
+<dd>See <tt><a name="tex2html79"
+ for my 1992 proposal.
+<dt><a name="foot79">... Muguet</a><a
+<dd>Head of the Knowledge Networks and Information
+ Society lab at the University of Geneva.
+<dt><a name="foot136">... payments.</a><a
+ <tt><a name="tex2html82"
+<p><i><b>This essay was first published in the ITU's
+2009 Kaleidoscope conference in Mar del Plata, Argentina</b></i></p>
+<!--#include virtual="/server/footer.html" -->
+Please send FSF & GNU inquiries to
+There are also <a href="/contact/">other ways to contact</a>
+Please send broken links and other corrections or suggestions to
+Please see the
+README</a> for information on coordinating and submitting
+translations of this article.
+<p>Copyright © 2009 Richard Stallman</p>
+<p>This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-No
+Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this
+or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300,
+San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.</p>
+<!-- timestamp start -->
+$Date: 2009/10/17 15:21:24 $
+<!-- timestamp end -->
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