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Free Software Foundation: Free as in "do what I say"

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When Richard Stallman created the Free Software Foundation (FSF) in 1985, it was organized around a radical idea: Software should be free, not just as in free of charge, but free as in the concept of liberty. During the next 20 years that idea turned out to be not just radical, but surprisingly practical. Beginning with Stallman's Emacs text editor, to the various Gnu utilities, the Linux kernel, and beyond, free software has proved to be an enduring success.

Much of the credit for that can be given to Stallman himself. Through his tireless campaigning, he has transformed this idealistic notion into something that the wider world, and even the business community, can accept and take seriously. Although it may not always be easy to agree with him, his arguments have been rational, and if nothing else, intellectually consistent to the last.

All the more reason to be disappointed by the FSF's recent, regrettable spiral into misplaced neopolitical activism, far removed from its own stated first principles. In particular, the FSF's moralistic opposition to DRM (digital rights management) technologies, which first manifested itself in early drafts of Version 3 of the GPL (Gnu General Public License), seems now to have been elevated to the point of evangelical dogma.

The FSF's most recent effort -- an anti-DRM protest staged at Microsoft's WinHEC conference last week, complete with demonstrators costumed in hazmat suits -- was particularly troubling. It signals a shift in the FSF, from an advocacy organization to one that engages in hysterical activism cut from the PETA mold.

Full Story.

I can see both sides on this

I can see both sides on this one. I think the reason for the paranoia is that unfortunately corporates cannot be trusted. Recent stuff about Sony putting rootkits on computers to prevent people copying their audio CDs is a case in point.

There is also the aspect of it which suggests that, in conjunction with "Trusted" computing (how Orwellian!) that this is leading to a situation whereby you cannot run a non-commercial OS on a computer.

The trouble is that the people pushing DRM = the people pushing Trusted.

DRM + Trusted Computing = Joseph Stalin + Pol Pot


There is NO time for political correctness here...

"-- was particularly troubling. It signals a shift in the FSF, from an advocacy organization to one that engages in hysterical activism cut from the PETA mold.".....

I would challenge anyone feeling this way to look deeply into this nightmare. I have spent most of my waking hours in the past three months digging the facts out on this issue. I have talked to Senators, Congressmen, RIAA representatives, Recording Artists (Avril Lavigne most noteworthy) and every manner of computer technologist you can imagine. Here is what every technician agrees upon when confronted with the effects of DRM/Trusted Computing. I've condensed it on a few bumper stickers for those who cannot be bothered with a bit of research.

You are going to lose the control of your computer.
You will no longer be able to "purchase" music.
Using an alternative operating system or "unauthorized" hardware will be punishable by imprisonment.

For those who might want to look into this intrusion, you can start

If you want it from a more "official source", how about from a Microsoft supporter himself. This guy has been powdering the backside of Bill Gates for years. Even HE sees the threat here. Oh, and as you will see...Microsoft is pushing the DRM thing, at the behest of the Music and Movie Industry...NOT the artists...Miss Lavigne made that point abundantly clear to me herself...and she is not alone. Dave Mathews and dozens of other artists are threatening to question their contracts over DRM. Microsoft isn't that concerned about the billions they will make in licensing fees...they want to control every computer they can. Attitudes like the one spoken above, will surely see to it that it will happen.

No, there is no time for "spirited dialog" or "a meeting of the minds". This issue has to be drug out of the dark, where MS and the RIAA et al are trying to keep it, and into the daylight where every music buyer and computer owner can look it over real good. This Immigration issue is a perfect smokescreen for bills like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 to get passed. That one in particular was passed at 2 am among farm subsidy bills and signed into law without fanfare. People are going to mess around here and find themselves "leasing" music in a couple of years. That is the me...

Maybe you want your child to only have one choice in computing...consider yourself lucky there are passionate people who refuse that option.

Quibble with RMS all you want. Just don't throw yourself at the feet of Steve Ballmer as an alternative.


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