...good thinking

Excerpt from Copyright vs. Community by Richard M. Stallman, 12 Sep 2007

This excerpt from Copyright vs. Community by Richard M. Stallman, 12 Sep 2007 (1.4Mb, Ogg Vorbis format) is part of our explanation of cooperatively-developed software. This transcript is provided for people who can't listen to the audio just now, or want to quote it.

"Free software means software that respects the user's freedom, so think: it's not a matter of price, I'm not talking about gratis software, I'm not talking about giving software away, which means zero price. It's not about price at all. It's about freedom, so think of free speech, not free beer.

Free software means the user has four essential freedoms. Freedom zero is the freedom to run the software as you wish.

Freedom one is the freedom to study the source code of the program and change it so that the program does what you wish.

Freedom two is the freedom to help your neighbour, the freedom to distribute exact copies to others, when you wish. Now that could mean giving them away or selling them. Whatever you feel like doing.

And freedom three is the freedom to contribute to your community, which is the freedom to distribute copies of your modified or extended versions, when you wish.

With all four of these freedoms, the program is free software, which means that the social system of its distribution and use is an ethical system."

(Copyright CC-BY-SA-3.0 Eugene Zelenko)

"This is not a technical criterion. This isn't a question of what's in the code. This isn't a question of what job the program does. This is a question of whether the program lets you do that job in freedom, or whether it tramples your freedom.

A non-free program, a proprietary program, tramples your freedom. The social system of its distribution and use is unethical.

Those programs are not a contribution to society, not when judged by the scale of freedom, they're not. They're an attack on our freedoms and our social solidarity.

So non-free software should not exist. It is a social problem that there is non-free software and in the free software movement, we hope to put an end to that problem. We aim for a world in which software is free. We haven't got there yet, but we've made a big start.

We developed the GNU operating system which was then finished by Linux the kernel and the combination, the GNU+Linux operating system, is used by tens of millions of computer users, but that's only a few percent of them. We have a long way yet to go to achieve the liberation of cyberspace.

If you use a non-free program, the developer has power over you - power that nobody should have."

A similar-but-different speech a few weeks later was 2007-09-24: Richard Stallman, Honorary degree acceptance speech. The above talk is believed to be under similar terms to stallman.org: "Copyright (c) 2007 Richard Stallman. Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved."

Read more about how cooperatively-developed software fits into our cooperative