Saturday, June 15, 2024

Lessig: Free Culture Needs Free Software

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SAN FRANCISCO — The fight for free culture will be more difficult than the fight for free software, said Lawrence Lessig, founder of the Creative Commons and Professor of Law at Stanford.

Lessig took the podium at LinuxWorld here for the opening keynote with an impassioned plea to the audience about free culture and the need for free software to support it.

The Stanford professor began his talk by noting that the core feature of the network and TCP/IP is that it ensures freedom.

“The network doesn’t care what you used it for it follows the protocols and anyone can use it,” Lessig told the audience. “It’s a neutral set of pipes or, as our leaders call it ‘tubes’.”

Surrounding TCP/IP are layers that challenge control. The control extends to multiple layers of the network, including content application, logical, physical.

Lessig cited the success of free software against the monopolistic efforts of Microsoft as proof that freedom can prevail against proprietary interests.

Ten years ago Lessig posited the idea that something as complex as an operating system required commercial propriety control to build. Those who thought it was possible were branded as “crazies.”

“Today any sane person knows that it is not impossible to build a free OS,” Lessig said. “It is not just possible but likely superior and without the need for centralized control assumed a decade ago.”

“Can we imagine the same transformation at the content layer?”

That transformation is the transformation from a read-only culture to a read/write culture where people participate in the creation and re-creation of software.

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