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www/philosophy ouch-interview.html

From: Pavel Kharitonov
Subject: www/philosophy ouch-interview.html
Date: Wed, 06 Jun 2012 14:08:23 +0000

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+<!--#include virtual="/server/header.html" -->
+<!-- Parent-Version: 1.68 -->
+<title>An interview for OUGH!
+- GNU Project - Free Software Foundation</title>
+<!--#include virtual="/server/banner.html" -->
+<!--#set var="article_name" value="/philosophy/ouch-interview" -->
+<!--#include virtual="/server/gnun/initial-translations-list.html" -->
+<h2>An interview for OUGH!</h2>
+<blockquote><p>This is a transcript of an interview with Richard
+Stallman conducted by Theodoros Papatheodorou in May,
+<p>Richard Stallman, the free software activist and software
+developer, maintains a legendary status in the computing community.  He
+addresses all our questions in an interview of epic proportions that he
+gave to OUGH! in two parts.</p>
+<h3>Part one</h3>
+<p>While working as a &ldquo;system hacker&rdquo; in MIT's AI Lab (i.e.
+a member of the team developing the Lab's own operating system) he
+experienced the profound change that overtook the software industry.  Up
+until that point the general practice was for people to freely share,
+modify and reuse operating system software developed for the machines of
+the day.  In the 1970's the software industry stopped distributing the
+source code of these programs, making it impossible for computer users
+to study and modify them.  Furthermore new copyright laws made it
+illegal to do so.</p>
+<p>The change struck him as unethical, and it affected him personally as
+the hacker community in which he thrived was broken up as two competing
+companies hired most of the talent in the Lab to develop nonfree
+products.  Stallman went against the trend and decided to devote his
+life to the development of free software, where the user has the right
+to use the program in any way he sees fit, study the source code, modify
+it and even redistribute his modified versions to others.  In 1984 he
+quit the MIT AI Lab and started developing GNU, the first free operating
+system which today, with the addition of a piece of software developed
+by a young Finish student, Linus Torvalds, forms GNU/Linux.</p>
+<p>Today, it is run on the majority of servers on the Internet, academic
+institutions, large enterprises, the military, and on desktops of
+millions of people around the world who have rejected software licenses
+that come with Windows and Mac OS.  They choose to run a system that was
+started by Stallman and further developed by thousands of others over
+the Internet.  GNU/Linux is superior to proprietary software from a
+technical point of view, and it's available gratis, but Stallman insists
+that these are welcome, but secondary features.  Freedom is the key.  We
+start the conversation talking about electronic rights.</p>
+<dt>You've said &ldquo;in the Internet age we have less rights that in
+the physical world.&rdquo;</dt>
+<p>Yes.  For instance in The US, Internet service providers can
+disconnect you without going to court, they don't have to prove that
+there is a reason.  And as a result they can censor you.  If you want to
+print papers and stand on the street handing them out you can do that,
+you don't have to beg some company to &ldquo;please cooperate&rdquo; so
+that you can do it.  But to do this on the Internet you need the
+cooperation of an ISP and a domain name registrar and maybe a hosting
+service, and if they don't like what you're doing or somebody threatens
+them who has a lot of power and doesn't like what you're doing, then they
+can just terminate your service and censor you.</p>
+<p>People should have a legal right to continued service of any of these
+kinds as long as they fulfill their side of the bargain.  I believe it's
+the case in the US that the phone company can't arbitrarily disconnect
+your phone line as long as you continue paying your bill and so on, then
+they have to keep giving you phone service, it's not their choice.  It
+should be the same with Internet connectivity.  It shouldn't be their
+choice, they shouldn't be allowed to set their own conditions for
+continuing to give you service.</p>
+<dt>They should provide the service as a public utility?</dt>
+<dt>This dependence on a corporation also extends to financial 
+<p>That's the other aspect in which the digital world gives us less
+rights than the physical world.  Suppose in addition to handing out
+papers on the street, you'd like to ask people to give money to the
+cause.  They can give cash, and you can accept the cash, and you don't
+need the cooperation of any company in order to do so.  Once you receive
+the cash, it's valid money, and you can spend it.  But, to do the same
+thing in the digital world you need the services of a payment company,
+and those companies might arbitrarily disconnect you also.</p>
+<dt>This is what happened with <em>WikiLeaks</em>.  After it released 
+that embarrassed the US government (among others), <em>MasterCard</em>
+and <em>Visa</em> stop accepting donations for the site.</dt>
+<p>Exactly.  <em>WikiLeaks</em> showed all these vulnerabilities
+because the US government decided to silence them and did everything
+they could to do so.  It has caused a lot of harm although you can still
+access the <em>WikiLeaks</em> pages if you use the right domain name.
+They did manage to cut off most of the donations to <em>WikiLeaks</em>,
+and now it's having trouble operating.</p>
+<dt>The organization has received a lot of bad publicity in the US.
+What's your view?</dt>
+<p><em>WikiLeaks</em> is doing something heroic.  A lot of the press in
+the US is subservient to the government, this is true in a lot of
+countries.  Or you might better say that it's subservient to business,
+but the US government works for business, so business wants to say good
+things about it.  I think we need laws stopping the payment companies
+from disconnecting anybody's service, except when they prove that they
+have cause.</p>
+<dt>Technology has spawned new forms of control, but it has also
+resulted in new ways of protest, self-organization, and dissent.
+<em>Anonymous</em> stands out as an example of hacktivists.</dt>
+<p><em>Anonymous</em> does various different things.  Most often
+<em>Anonymous</em> has a lot of people go to the door of an
+organization's website, they're a crowd, and so they may get in
+somebody's way.  This is comparable to protesting in front of the
+organization's building in the physical world.  And that we recognize as
+democratic political activity.  So <em>Anonymous</em>' web protests are
+also democratic political activity.  Of course, the forces of oppression
+want to define this as a crime rather than a protest, and they're using
+the change in technology as an opportunity effectively to criminalize
+<p>Another thing that I think maybe <em>Anonymous</em>' members have
+done, is changing the text in the websites so as to criticize the
+organization whose site it is.  This is the virtual equivalent of
+writing a critical slogan on a poster, which is pretty normal democratic
+political activity, but they call it &ldquo;attacking&rdquo; the site.
+The word &ldquo;attack&rdquo; is meant to give people the idea that this
+is something other than a political protest and put people in prison for
+<dt>Among hackers the term &ldquo;hacker&rdquo; means something
+completely different than what it means to the general public.  Could
+you explain that difference?</dt>
+<p>Starting from 40 years ago, when I joined the hacker community at
+MIT, I've been proud to call myself a hacker.  I was hired by MIT to be
+a system hacker, meaning to make the system better.  At the time, we
+used an operating system called ITS, the Incompatible Timesharing
+System, which had been developed by the team of hackers at the
+Artificial Intelligence Lab; and then they hired me to be part of the
+team.  My job was to make the system better.  Hacking had a more general
+meaning, which meant basically being playfully clever and pushing the
+limits of what was possible.</p>
+<dt>Hacking doesn't even have to involve computers.</dt>
+<p>Hacking was not limited in improving the operating system.  You could
+hack in any media, it didn't have to involve computers.  Hacking, as a
+general concept, is an attitude towards life.  What's fun for you?  If
+finding playful clever ways that were thought impossible is fun then
+you're a hacker.  One thing that was supposed to be impossible was
+breaking the security on computers.  So some people who were inclined to
+be hackers got into that medium of breaking security.  Then journalists
+found about hackers around 1981, misunderstood them, and they thought
+hacking was breaking security.  That's not generally true: first of all,
+there are many ways of hacking that have nothing to do with security,
+and second, breaking security is not necessarily hacking.  It's only
+hacking if you're being playfully clever about it.</p>
+<h4>Software Patents</h4>
+<dt>Apart from electronic rights you are also a campaigner against
+software patents.  Companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple, to name a
+few, are currently engaged in heated patent wars.</dt>
+<p>Patents are like land mines for software developers.  It doesn't
+surprise me that a product such as an <em>Android</em> phone is accused
+of violating a tremendous number of patents, because it's a complicated
+software system.  Any such complicated software system is going to have
+thousands of ideas in it, and if 10% of these ideas are patented that
+means hundreds of those ideas are patented.  So any large program is
+likely to run afoul of hundreds of patents, and a system that's a
+combination of many programs is likely to run afoul of thousands of
+patents or more.</p>
+<dt>As the law stands, these patents have an expiration date of 20 years
+from the moment they were filed.</dt>
+<p>This is a very long time in the software field.  Keep in mind that
+any time the technological context changes, then we need to adapt our
+way of doing many things to fit the new context.  Which means they will
+all need new ideas, and if those new ideas are patented it's yet another
+<dt>What's special about software that you think it should not have the
+patent system apply to it?</dt>
+<p>Software is not the usual kind of case for patents.  Let's look at
+the usual case: patents for something that's made in a factory.  Those
+patents only affect the companies that have the factories and make the
+products.  If they can all live with the patent system the rest of us
+have no reason to care. But with software, the problem is that it is
+much more complicated than anything else.  The reason is software is
+inherently easier to design than physical products.</p>
+<p>Software is simply mathematics, whereas physical products have to
+cope with the perversity of matter.  And lots of unexpected things will
+happen, we have models to try to predict what will happen with physical
+systems, but they're not guaranteed to be right.</p>
+<p>With software you're using mathematical constructs, and they do what
+they're defined to do, and if they don't then you go to the compiler
+developer, and you say, &ldquo;There's a bug in your compiler.  Fix it
+so that this construct does what is supposed to do.&rdquo;</p>
+<p>You can't do that to the physical world, but you can do that to the
+compiler developer.  Because of this it's easier to design software, but
+people push every ability to its limit.  So you give people an easier
+kind of design, and they make bigger systems.</p>
+<p>So with software, a few people in a few years can design something
+that has a million elements in its design.  That would be a mega-project
+if it had to be made with physical matter.  So you make the system so
+complicated, and it's going to have lots of ideas in it, and that means
+that it's going to infringe lots of patents or at least be accused of
+infringing lots of patents.</p>
+<p>In other words, the burden of the patent system on software is much
+higher that it is on anything else.  All software developers are in
+danger, and what you see with the patent wars that have broken out in
+the past year or so is if you develop a big complicated software package
+you're going to be sued.</p>
+<dt>How is it different, say, to the patent for a drug?</dt>
+<p>Patents on medicine are another special case.  Because when you force
+poor countries to have patents on medicines, which is what the World
+Trade Organization does, that makes medicine so expensive that people
+can't afford it and they die.</p>
+<p>The people who founded the WTO and its executives should be sent to
+the Hague to be tried for mass murder.  We should organize to demand
+that our governments stop their support for the WTO; there are thousands
+of reasons for that.  That organization's purpose is to give business
+more power to turn democracy into a sham.</p>
+<p>All so-called &ldquo;free trade treaties&rdquo; are actually aimed to
+weaken democracy and transfer political power to business.  Therefore in
+the name of democracy we must abolish those treaties.  There are good
+arguments that international trade can make both countries wealthier,
+and if these countries are democratic enough that the wealth will spread
+to everyone in both countries then they really are better off.  However,
+the so-called &ldquo;free trade treaties&rdquo; are designed to make the
+countries less democratic and ensure that the wealth won't spread
+<p>That means that they cancel out whatever benefit they might produce
+<em>even if the GNP of both countries increases</em>.  What good is that
+if the increases all go to the rich, which is what they've done in the
+US <em>at least</em> since 1980.</p>
+<dt>These patent wars have seen companies buying up an arsenal of
+software patents just to protect themselves from litigation&hellip;</dt>
+<p>You know they might be, but it could be that <em>Google</em> has
+fewer patents because it hasn't existed so long.  This may be one case
+where they're not all in the same position and not all interdependent,
+and if so, that would be unfortunate, because after all <em>
+Android</em> is the only smartphone operating system still in use that
+is mostly free software, and that at least gives us a starting point to
+try to run phones without proprietary software.</p>
+<p>If <em>Android</em> becomes dangerous and is crushed by patents, then
+we might never be able to run smartphones with free software.</p>
+<dt>Google is about to buy Motorola, which is not doing great
+financially, just in order to get access to its patents.</dt>
+<p>This shows how the patent system becomes an obstruction to progress.
+When there are enough patents applying to one product it becomes hard to
+cope with the patent system at all.  I hope that they (Google) succeed
+that way, in protecting themselves, because by doing so they are to some
+extent sheltering the free software community as well.</p>
+<dt>Do you believe in the complete abolition of software patents?</dt>
+<p>Right, patents should not apply to software.  Keep in mind that you
+can't always classify patents as either software patents or non-software
+patents.  Sometimes the same patent will apply both to programs and to
+circuits.  What I recommend is to change the law to say &ldquo;by
+definition, if it's a program, it does not infringe any
+<h4>P2P File Sharing and the Music/Film Industry</h4>
+<dt>You've often spoken against the use of the word
+<p>It's a smear term!  They want to say that sharing is the moral
+equivalent of attacking ships.  I don't agree with that position, so I
+don't call sharing &ldquo;piracy&rdquo;.  I call it
+<p>I am not against profit in general.  I'm against mistreating people.
+Any given way of doing business may or may not involve mistreating
+<p>The example of the struggling artist is a ridiculous example because
+the existing system does very little for struggling artists.  It's
+lousy.  And if we just legalize sharing it won't make any difference to
+struggling artists.  It might even help them.</p>
+<p>I think artists should release music with licenses that explicitly
+permit sharing, and some of them do.  The point is that this argument
+against sharing is bogus.</p>
+<p>These giant multinational companies want more money for themselves,
+and they use the artist as an excuse.  Little bit trickles down to the
+artists, and then there are few stars that get treated very well.  But
+we don't need to make them richer.</p>
+<dt>People should have the right to non-commercially share and
+redistribute music?</dt>
+<p>Music and any published work.  Because sharing is good, sharing
+builds community, so sharing must be legal, now that sharing is feasible
+and easy.</p>
+<p>Fifty years ago making copies and redistributing them
+non-commercially was so hard that it didn't matter whether it was legal
+or not.  But now that it's so easy, to stop people from doing it can
+only be achieved using nasty, draconian measures, and even those don't
+always work.</p>
+<p>But, I guess, when they get nasty enough they may work, but why
+should we tolerate such nastiness?</p>
+<dt>The music and film industry campaigned very hard on PIPA, SOPA, and
+<p>They want unjust laws all around the world, and in some countries
+they've succeeded getting them.  I read that Ireland adopted a law
+similar to SOPA, at least described that way, but I don't know any
+details yet.</p>
+<p>These laws are an injustice.  They are meant to subject people more
+to the media companies, so of course they're wrong, of course people
+hate them.  The only question is; is there enough democracy left in any
+given country for people to be able to stop them?</p>
+<p>European citizens should take action and organize with others so as
+to get your country not to ratify ACTA and convince the European
+Parliament to vote it down.  Save the world from that injustice.</p>
+<dt>Recently government agencies acted to shut down a few sites, such as
+<p>I don't know whether Mega-Upload ultimately would deserve to be shut
+down.  Remember Mega-Upload is a business, not an example of sharing.
+Sharing means non-commercial redistribution of exact copies.  So I don't
+have a conclusion about Mega-Upload in particular.</p>
+<p>I do think there was something outrageous about the way it was shut
+down, before a court got to decide whether it's legal or not.  But
+meanwhile there's been a law suit against (I guess it's called) Hotfile
+and the plaintiffs are claiming that &ldquo;this has to be bad because
+it's similar to Mega-Upload which we shut down.&rdquo;  Which is a
+swindle because no court has decided whether Mega-Upload was legal.  So
+they're citing this premature shutdown as proof that it's bad.</p>
+<p>I don't know, maybe it is bad.  That's not the issue I'm strongly
+concerned with.  I'm more concerned with peer-to-peer sharing because
+that's clearly good.</p>
+<h4>On Privacy</h4>
+<dt>What about services like Facebook and Gmail?</dt>
+<p>There are many issues of freedom in life, and having control of your
+computing is my contribution&mdash;I hope&mdash;to the idea of what
+human rights are.  There are many other human rights people deserve, and
+many of them that apply in other areas of life carry over to the virtual
+<p>So for instance, what are the bad things about Facebook? Well, it
+gives people a false impression of privacy.  It lets you think that you
+can designate something as to be seen only by your friends, not
+realizing that it's actually to be seen by your Facebook friends and not
+your actual friends.  And any of them could publish it, so it could be
+seen by anybody; it could be published in the newspaper.  Facebook can't
+prevent that.</p>
+<p>What it could do is warn the users every time they start a session
+&ldquo;Watch out, anything you post here&mdash;even if you say that only
+certain people should see it&mdash;it could get published due to events
+beyond your control.  So think twice about anything you are going to
+post here.  And remember that, the next time you try to apply for a job,
+the company might demand that you show everything in your account.  Your
+school might also demand this.  And if you really want your
+communication to be private, do not send it this way.&rdquo;  That's one
+thing that they should do.</p>
+<p>Facebook is a surveillance engine and collects tremendous amounts of
+personal data, and its business model is to abuse that data.  So you
+shouldn't use Facebook at all.</p>
+<p>And worse than that, Facebook even does surveillance on people that
+don't have Facebook accounts.  If you see a &ldquo;Like&rdquo; button in
+a page then Facebook knows that your computer visited that page.  And
+it's not the only company that's doing this; I believe that Twitter does
+this and Google+ does this, so it's a practice that's being imitated.
+And it's wrong no matter who does it.</p>
+<p>The other thing that Facebook does, is that it uses people's pictures
+in commercial advertisement and gives them no way to refuse.</p>
+<dt>Eric Schmidt of Google fame said a couple of years ago that if you
+have something you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be
+doing it.</dt>
+<p>That's ridiculous.  What kind of things would you not anyone to
+<p>Maybe you are planning a protest.  It is common nowadays for
+governments to label dissidents as terrorists and use electronic
+surveillance on them to sabotage their protests in order to effectively
+sabotage democracy.</p>
+<dt>These social media also claim that they have had a very strong,
+subversive role in the Middle-East uprisings.</dt>
+<p>Maybe they do, but remember that these are not located in these
+Middle-Eastern countries so they have no strong motive to care to those
+<p>When, say, the US government wants to crush dissent these companies
+are likely to volunteer to help.  If they don't, they will be compelled
+to anyway.</p>
+<dt>You're also known to not use a mobile phone in order to protect your
+<p>Of course.  Every mobile phone is a tracking and surveillance device.
+You could stop your phone from transmitting your GPS location if you've
+got a phone that's controlled by free software, although those are very
+few.  Still the system can determine pretty accurately where the phone
+is even without any active cooperation from the phone.</p>
+<p>The US government says it should be able to collect all that
+information without even a warrant.  Not even a court order, that is.
+So that shows how much US government respects human rights.</p>
+<dt>Some people have been using <em>TOR</em> and other software to hide
+their identities online.</dt>
+<p><em>TOR</em> is a very good thing.  It helps protect people from Big
+Brother.  And by Big Brother I mean perhaps the government of Iran or
+Syria or the US or any other country that doesn't recognize human
+<h3>Part two</h3>
+<p>The second part of the interview is about free software and its
+<p>In the second part of the interview we started off by speaking about
+free software and asked for a definition.</p>
+<p>Free software means software that respects user's freedom and user's
+community.  With software there are just two possibilities; either the
+user controls the program or the program controls the users.</p>
+<p>The first case is free software because, in order for the users to
+have effective control of the programs, we need certain freedoms.  Those
+freedoms are the criteria of free software.</p>
+<p>If the users don't control the program, then the program controls the
+users, and the developer controls the program.  That means that program
+is an instrument of unjust power.</p>
+<p>So free software is software that respects user's freedom, and the
+idea of the free software movement is: nonfree software is an injustice,
+let's put an end to it.  First let's escape, and then let's help
+everyone else escape.  Let's put an end to that injustice.</p>
+<dt>And by free of course, you don't just mean just
+&ldquo;gratis&rdquo;, you mean a lot more than that.</dt>
+<p>I mean &ldquo;free&rdquo; as in freedom.</p>
+<dt>You mentioned that there are certain freedoms that a piece
+of software should respect in order to be called free.  What are these
+<dt>Freedom zero</dt>
+<dd>The freedom to run the program as you wish.</dd>
+<dt>Freedom one</dt>
+<dd>The Freedom to study the source code and change it to make the
+program do your computing the way you wish.</dd>
+<dt>Freedom two</dt>
+<dd>The freedom to help others, which means, redistribute exact copies
+when you wish.</dd>
+<dt>Freedom three</dt>
+<dd>The freedom to contribute to your community&mdash;the freedom to
+distribute copies of your modified versions when you wish.  (That's
+assuming that you've made modified version, because not everybody does
+<dt>And in order to support this you started a foundation, the Free
+Software Foundation.</dt>
+<p>Well, remember the goal is not just theoretical.  I wanted to make it
+possible to use a computer in freedom.  That's impossible if you're
+required to use nonfree software, and when I started this in 1983 that
+was the only way you could make a computer run.  It had to have an
+operating system, and all the operating systems were proprietary, so you
+had to have nonfree software.  (Proprietary means nonfree; they're
+<p>So to make freedom a real option it was necessary to develop a free
+software operating system.  I wanted to make it a real possibility to
+use a computer and have freedom, and that meant launching a software
+developing project to develop all the software that you need to have,
+and that's an operating system called GNU.  That's why there was actual
+work to be done.  I wanted to go beyond simply stating a philosophical
+point in the abstract, and proceed to the practical work of making
+freedom a real possibility.</p>
+<dt>And why do you feel that it's an inherent right of people to have
+access to the source code of a program?</dt>
+<p>Why should people be free? There are people that don't believe in
+freedom, and you can't logically argue with them.  There's a fundamental
+difference in values.  Once you recognize that having control over your
+software is the only way to live in freedom and use computers, if you
+want freedom you've got to insist on free software.</p>
+<dt>But why is software unlike other products? When a vendor sells a
+chair he expects&hellip; [Stallman interrupts]</dt>
+<p>Software isn't like those things.  Software does complicated things,
+and chairs don't.  There's no way to design a chair to do things to you
+and control what you do.  You normally sit on a chair and you control
+how you sit.  The chair might be more or less comfortable, but it's not
+going to move you into a different building or dump you into the street
+or all sorts of other surprising things that you might not expect.  It's
+not likely to have a needle hidden in it which would inject some kind of
+drug into you.</p>
+<p>Software, on the other hand, does things far more complicated than
+that, and proprietary software commonly has malicious features
+comparable to that needle.  In Windows, people have found spy features.
+There are also back doors which allow those who know how to control them
+to do things to the user.</p>
+<p>In other words, Microsoft can do absolutely anything to the users of
+Windows: it has total control over their computers, it can take anything
+from them, it can sabotage them in any way at all.  If you use nonfree
+programs you are defenseless against its developer, and the developers
+basically say &ldquo;you should simply trust us because of course a big
+corporation like this would never hurt you.&rdquo;</p>
+<dt>Apart from software, companies today try to interfere with what
+users can actually store in their devices.  One of their tools for
+controlling the user is by using proprietary e-book formats.</dt>
+<p>These are attacks on the traditional freedoms of readers.  The
+example I would use is the Amazon &ldquo;swindle&rdquo; (a play on words
+on Amazon's e-book tablet, the &ldquo;Kindle&rdquo;) because that's the
+one I know the most facts about.  I call it the &ldquo;swindle&rdquo;
+because it is set up so that it swindles readers out of the traditional
+freedoms of readers of books.</p>
+<p>For instance, there is the freedom to own a book, which Amazon says
+the users can't.  They can only get a license to read the book under
+Amazon's choice of conditions.  Then there's the freedom to acquire the
+book anonymously, which is basically impossible for most well-known
+books with the &ldquo;swindle&rdquo;.</p>
+<p>They're only available from Amazon, and Amazon requires users to
+identify themselves, as it doesn't allow any way to pay anonymously with
+cash, the way you could buy a printed book.  As a result Amazon
+maintains a database showing all the books that each user has ever read.
+That database is a threat to human rights.  Then there's the freedom to
+give the book to someone else, perhaps after reading it, the freedom to
+lend the book to people when you wish, and the freedom to sell the book
+to a used book store.</p>
+<p>Amazon eliminates these freedoms, partially by means of digital
+handcuffs (malicious features in the software designed to restrict users
+so they can't do these things) and partially through having said that
+users can't own a book, because Amazon makes them sign a contract saying
+they won't give away, lend or sell the book.  And then there's the
+freedom to keep the book as long as you wish.</p>
+<dt>There was an Orwellian twist to the tale&hellip;</dt>
+<p>Yes, because they deleted thousands of copies of &ldquo;1984&rdquo;.
+That was in 2009.  Those copies were authorized copies until the day
+Amazon decided to delete them.  After this, there was a lot of
+criticism, and so Amazon promised it would never do this again unless
+ordered to by the state. I do not find that comforting.</p>
+<p>Any one of these makes the &ldquo;swindle&rdquo;&mdash;an outrageous
+attack on our freedom and something that we must refuse to use.  I don't
+know all the details about the competitors, but all of them share at
+least some of these unacceptable characteristics.  Except for some where
+you can only install books that are in documented, non-secret
+<p>Some of them maybe you could buy with cash somewhere if the author is
+selling copies.  But the problem is, for digital books in general, there
+is no way to buy them for cash, or anonymously, because of the fact that
+there is no anonymous payment system on the Internet.</p>
+<p>Bitcoin can be used for that, but Bitcoin is somewhat speculative
+because its value fluctuates.  I don't think it has arrived at the point
+of being a convenient easy, anonymous, digital payment system.</p>
+<p>And it's not inherently anonymous.  You can make a Bitcoin payment
+anonymously but you have to go to some extra trouble.  I don't remember
+the details, but it was complicated enough that I didn't think I would
+do it.  I would just continue not buying things online.</p>
+<dt>There is another aspect to using nonfree software: you are being a
+bad neighbor as well.</dt>
+<p>When you are asked to promise not to share with other people, what
+does that mean?  You are being asked to betray your community.  Now,
+what's your community?  It's the people you know, the people you
+normally cooperate with.  These software licenses invite you to betray
+the people you normally cooperate with.</p>
+<dt>People use the terms free &amp; open source indiscriminately, but
+they are different things.</dt>
+<p>The term &ldquo;open source&rdquo; was coined in 1998 by people in
+the free software community.  Remember that I started the free software
+movement in 1983.  By 1998 we had already achieved a considerable
+amount, there were many people writing free software and many people
+using it.</p>
+<p>But not all of them agreed with the philosophy of the free software
+movement.  Many of them, although they liked using and developing free
+software, considered our philosophy too radical and shocking.  They
+coined a different term so that they could avoid any reference to our
+philosophy and avoid presenting the issue as a matter of justice versus
+<p>So that's the purpose of the term &ldquo;open source&rdquo;.  It's to
+talk about more or less the same category of software but without
+presenting it as an ethical issue.  They don't say that if a program is
+not open source then it's an injustice and you must try to escape from
+<dt>You've said in the past that the &ldquo;the agenda of the free
+software movement has been subverted and even nearly lost.&rdquo;  Are
+you referring to cases such as Android (the mobile phone operating
+<p>Android is just one example of the general tendency for most people
+in a community not to think of this in terms of freedom and justice.
+&ldquo;Open source&rdquo; is a large part of that too.</p>
+<p>And then look at the more than 1000 different distributions of the
+GNU/Linux OS: there around ten of them which are entirely free software,
+whose developers keep them free software as a matter of principle, and
+the other thousand-or-so include nonfree software or steer the user
+towards nonfree software, which in an instant grants legitimacy to the
+nonfree software and directly rejects the philosophy of the free
+software movement.</p>
+<p>And these speak a very loud voice.  Most people coming into the
+community formulate their ideas of what it's all about based on those
+distributions and from other people who are happy with those, and
+basically only a minority of the free software community regards nonfree
+software as an injustice that we shouldn't tolerate.  And these views,
+of course, propagate.</p>
+<p>Strictly speaking Android is free software but it's not complete: in
+order to actually run a phone you need other software which isn't free.
+Every Android phone needs some nonfree software too.</p>
+<p>In addition, many of those are &ldquo;tyrant products&rdquo; which
+don't allow users to replace the system.  So the software in them may
+have been made from free source code, but if the user can't replace the
+software, then those executable programs are not free.</p>
+<dt>Despite your technical achievements when it comes to coding, one of
+your greatest hacks was the inception of GNU GPL, a seminal license that
+influenced a lot of others.</dt>
+<p>Well, it's better to say that most other free software licenses were
+written as reaction against the ideas of GNU GPL.</p>
+<p>You see, the GNU GPL is a copyleft license.  Every free software
+license, in order to be one, has to give you the four freedoms.  The
+only way to get these freedoms is if the work is released under a
+license that gives them to you.</p>
+<p>Copyright law today has been made too restricted, everything is
+copyrighted by default.  Therefore the only way a program can be free is
+if the copyright holders put on a formal declaration that gives the four
+freedoms.  This formal declaration is what we call a free software
+<p>There are many ways to do that.  Copyleft says that there is a
+condition placed on freedoms two and three (remember those were the
+freedoms to distribute exact copies and copies of your modified
+versions).  The condition which is copyleft says that when you're
+distributing them, you have to do it respecting the same freedoms for
+the next person.</p>
+<p>So people who get copies from you, whether they're modified or not,
+must get the same four freedoms.  If you put some of this code into
+another program with other code so that you've made changes, the
+conditions say that that entire program must give people the four
+freedoms, so you can convert the code into effectively proprietary with
+the excuse that you've made some changes in it.  If you want to use any
+of this code in your program, you must make your whole program free.</p>
+<p>I did this because I realized that there was a choice: either people
+would be able to convert my code into nonfree software and use it to
+subjugate others, perhaps by making changes in it, or I would stop them
+from doing that.</p>
+<p>I realized then, if I didn't stop them, then my code would be
+converted to nonfree software, users would get my code, but they
+wouldn't get freedom, and that would be self defeating, it would defeat
+the whole purpose of writing the code, which was to make a system that
+they could use in freedom.</p>
+<p>So I invented a way to prevent that, and that way is copyleft.</p>
+<dt>And how do these ideas of copyleft translate in today's world of
+web services and so called &ldquo;cloud computing&rdquo;?</dt>
+<p>These issues apply to a program, which is a work you can have a copy
+of; but a service isn't something you get a copy of, so these issues
+don't apply to it.</p>
+<p>On the other hand, when you're doing your own computing you must not
+use any web service to do that, because if you do so you lose control of
+that computing.  If your computing is done on somebody else's server, he
+controls it and you don't.</p>
+<p>So the general issue that the user should have control on their
+computing does apply to web services but in a different way.</p>
+<dt>Despite it's practical advantages there isn't yet mass migration to
+free software in the public sector.</dt>
+<p>Proprietary software developers have lots of money.  They use that
+money to buy governments.  There are two ways that they can use money to
+influence governments.</p>
+<p>One way is by bribing specific officials.  That's typically illegal
+but in many countries they can do it anyway.</p>
+<p>The other way is bribing the state itself or some other jurisdiction,
+and that's not illegal, but it is equally corrupt.</p>
+<dt>Despite being in dire financial straights, there is no national
+policy in Greece regarding the use of free software in the public
+<p>I don't want to focus narrowly on the agendas of possibly saving
+money because that's a secondary reason.  The real reason why the Greek
+and any other government should insist on using free software is to have
+control of its own computing, in other words, its information and
+computing sovereignty.  And this is worth spending money for.</p>
+<dt>Let's talk a bit about the role that free software should have in
+education.  There's been a lot of debate recently.</dt>
+<p>Schools must teach exclusively free software because schools have a
+social mission: to educate good citizens for a strong, capable,
+independent, cooperating and free society.  In the computing field that
+means teaching people to be skilled free software users.</p>
+<p>Teaching the proprietary program is implanting dependence.  Why do
+you think many software companies hand gratis copies of their nonfree
+programs to schools? Because they want schools to spread this
+dependence.  That's the opposite of the social mission of schools, they
+shouldn't do it.</p>
+<p>It's like giving students addictive drugs.  The companies that make
+these drugs would love the schools to do that, but it's the school's
+responsibility to refuse even if the drugs are gratis.  But there is a
+deeper reason too: for education and citizenship.</p>
+<p>Schools are supposed to teach not just facts and skills, but also the
+spirit of good will.  A habit of helping others.  Every class should
+have this rule: &ldquo;Students, if you bring software to class you may
+not keep it for yourself.  You must share copies with the rest of the
+class, including the source code, in case someone here wants to learn
+about that software.  Which means bringing nonfree software to class is
+not permitted.&rdquo;  For the school to set a good example, it must
+follow its own rule: it should bring only free software and share copies
+with everyone in the class.</p>
+<p>There is also another reason, for the sake of education, specifically
+education of the best programmers.  For natural born programmers to
+become good programmers, they need to read lots of code and write lots
+of code.  Only free software gives you the chance to read the code of
+large programs that people really use.  Then you have to write lots of
+code.  Which means you've got to write code in large programs.</p>
+<p>You have to start small.  That doesn't mean writing small programs,
+because small programs do not even start to present the difficulties of
+large programs.  So the way you start small is by writing small changes
+in existing large programs, and only free software gives you the chance
+to do that.</p>
+<p>So, for several reasons, doing an ethical and good education means
+doing education with free software and only free software.  There are
+many who say, &ldquo;Let's give the children Windows and the GNU+Linux
+system so that they can learn both.&rdquo;  This is like saying
+&ldquo;let's give children at lunchtime some whiskey or ouzo as well as
+water, so they can learn both.&rdquo;</p>
+<p>The school is supposed to teach good habits, not addiction, not
+dependence.  Microsoft knows that if you deliver computer with Windows
+and GNU+Linux, most of the kids in their families see Windows in use, so
+they are going to mostly use Windows.</p>
+<p>We need to change that, that's a bad habit of society, it's
+dependence.  A school should actively put an end to that dependence.
+They should redirect society down to a path where people have
+<p>But remember, the problem we want to correct is bigger than
+Microsoft.  Apple is actually nastier than Microsoft, and it seems to be
+having a very disappointing success in the area of mobile devices with
+the iThings.</p>
+<p>And remember that the iThings pioneered a tyrannical practice that
+Microsoft only tried afterwards.  That is designing products as jails,
+so that users can't even choose what applications to install freely,
+they can only install programs that have been approved by the
+<p>And the horrible thing is that the evil genius Steve Jobs found a way
+to make lots of people clamor to be imprisoned by these products.  He
+made jails and made them so shiny that people want to be locked up.</p>
+<p>There's been a tremendous PR industry keen to make him sound good,
+and Apple was working very hard to take advantage of his death.  Of
+course Apple's PR worked while he was alive also, and there seem to be a
+lot of people in magazines and newspapers who want to direct the public
+attention away from these issues of freedom.</p>
+<dt>Speaking of education, when you were part of the MIT AI Lab,
+you were part of a community. This was eventually broken up and you
+were the only one to go against the trend and not work for a big
+company developing proprietary software. What gave you the strength to
+fight, alone, like a guerrilla in the mountains?</dt>
+<p>I was alone already.  The community I've been part of had already
+split up in a rather hostile fashion.  So I was most definitely alone no
+matter what I was going to do.</p>
+<p>But the other thing was that the revulsion of my mind to the idea of
+using and developing proprietary software meant that that was even
+worse.  I had no alternative that would lead to a life I wouldn't be
+ashamed of and disgusted with.</p> </dd>
+<dt>What were your major influences in your upbringing and education
+would you credit for influencing your belief system?</dt>
+<p>I don't know.  I guess the ideas of free software were
+formulated from the community around me at MIT, because we practiced
+free software, and they were doing that before I joined them.</p>
+<p>What was different for me was that whereas the others liked doing
+free software, but they were willing to do nonfree software when that
+was somehow more convenient or satisfied other goals such as to make the
+software successful or whatever.</p>
+<p>For me that was the thing that made it good rather than bad, and it
+was useless to throw that away.  But it took years for me to formulate
+those ideas, something like ten years.  In the mid-70's, even late 70's,
+I still hadn't reached the conclusion that nonfree software was simply
+<dt>You've described yourself as a pessimist so I won't ask you to look
+into your crystal ball&hellip;</dt>
+<p>I wouldn't see anything, anyway.  The future depends on you.  If I
+could tell you what's going to happen then it would be futile for you to
+try to change it.</p>
+<dt>So, what software projects or social movements are you excited to
+see emerging?</dt>
+<p>At the moment there isn't an existing software project that's making
+me excited, but I'm trying to convince someone to work on a particular,
+rather specialized piece of free software that is the last thing we need
+in order to make the use of ATI video accelerators possible in the Free
+<p>As for social movements, I'm very excited by the Occupy movement, by
+the opposition to austerity in Greece and Spain, and the movements
+against corporate tax-evasion, and basically I'm excited to see more
+people fighting against the domination of society by the rich few.</p>
+<p>Theodoros Papatheodorou (PhD of Computer Science) is teaching at the
+Athens School of Fine Arts (<a
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+<p>Copyright &copy; 2012 Richard Stallman, Theodoros Papatheodorou</p>
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+<!-- timestamp start -->
+$Date: 2012/06/06 14:08:04 $
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