Richard Stallman, Live and Unplugged: Page 2

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Developer: But freedom comes with responsibilities. On one side is freedom, and on the other is the rights of the people who create the content–

Stallman: [getting agitated]: No, no, no, they have no right to subjugate others! Software developers have no right to take away from other people the freedoms they are entitled to. And so non-free software is completely unethical and should not exist at all. That’s why I work on free software. We will give them the free software so your non-free software will fail! [big laugh and applause from crowd].

Developer: There’s a fundamental fallacy in what you’re saying. I don’t have anything against you writing free software–

Richard Stallman, GNU/Linux

Speaking with students after his speech

Stallman: But I have something against your writing non-free software! [Big audience laugh] You subjugate other people! You want to keep them divided and helpless.

Developer: So it’s your word against mine, and obviously–

Stallman: Well, obviously no one can make anyone agree with us – they’re going to make up their minds. If this were a speech about free software, I’d go into the reasons for this…

The other questions from the audience questions are, for the most part, not as contentious. But a few are pretty prickly. Someone asks him a question using the phrase “open source” and he refuses to answer because he objects to the term “open source.” “But perhaps you’d like to restate your questions,” he says. Someone else asks a question that involves the term “intellectual property,” and Stallman disputes the very notion of “intellectual property.”

Many of the questions reveal that the students are in full agreement with his positions. The question period could go on far longer – Stallman finally has to call a halt, with many hands still raised.

Stallman Interview: GPL, Debian, Promoting Free Software

Afterward, many students gather around Stallman, asking him to autograph their copy of his book. One student asks him to sign a Bad Vista sticker, which he declines. Several groups ask to have their picture taken with him, lining up and smiling for a historic photo.

The GNU dolls aren’t selling too well tonight, so Stallman decides to drop the price from $20 to $15, shouting out the new, lower price to the hangers-on. Still, there are few takers.

As the students drift out, Stallman sits down with me for an interview. On a one on one basis, he’s thoughtful, with little of the bluster evident in the Q&A period.

Q: The Free Software Foundation has taken an activist stance against DRM, particularly in its support of the Defective by Design campaign. What outcome do you hope to produce by this?

Richard Stallman, GNU/Linux

Signing autographs. GNU dolls in foreground.

We hope to organize the public to visibly condemn and reject DRM, so that we will discourage companies from trying to inflict it on us.

Q: How do you see GNU/Linux evolving in the next 5-10 years? What sort of developments do you see happening, both for developers and in the marketplace?

I’m afraid I can’t answer that – I have no idea. I’m not particularly good at foretelling the future. And I have to say, it’s not a question that’s tremendously important to me. Because the [GNU/Linux] system already does the things that I want to do. So the question of its further development almost doesn’t matter to me directly, personally. I want it to develop in ways that will satisfy the users, but I’m not necessarily an expert in what they need.

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Tags: Linux, DRM, Copyright

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