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'Linux' trademark doesn't matter, says Stallman

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Richard Stallman, chair of the Free Software Foundation, said on Thursday that the Linux trademark fracas in Australia has distracted attention away from the real issue — that of freedom to distribute and change software.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Stallman said: "Free software means you're free to run it, study it, change it, redistribute it, and distribute modified versions — the way cooks do with recipes. What names you're allowed to call a program is a side issue."

Stallman's words put him at odds with some members of the free software movement, who feel that the Linux name is worth protecting because it's so widely recognised. Steve D'Aprano, operations manager at open source vendor Cyberspace told ZDNet UK sister site ZDNet Australia, "If Linux were to fall out of trademark protection, there would be nothing to prevent unauthorised, shady and unscrupulous individuals and organisations from using the term for cheap knock-offs, cashing in on the name or other products which harm the reputation of Linux, and by association, ourselves." D'Aprano said that his company would sign the statutory declaration.

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