- Alex Jones
Okay, my friends, we've got a real treat for you—they talk
about the top ten people out there in Internet land who've really
changed our perspective on so many things, it's Dr. Richard
Stallman. He's a software developer and software freedom activist, he
graduated from Harvard in '74 with a BA in physics and received many
awards, doctorates and professorships for extensive work.
In January of '84 he resigned from MIT to start the GNU or
[pronounced] “guh-new” operating system, meant to be
entirely free software, and has been the project leader ever since.
Dr. Stallman also launched the free software movement.
In October of '85 he started the Free Software Foundation (and thank
god, because nothing would work if we were running off of Microsoft
still, and I don't know anything about Internet, but I know that), and
in 1999 Stallman called for development of a free online encyclopedia
with a means of inviting the public to contribute articles so he was the
progenitor of Wikipedia.
During his college years he also worked as a staff hacker at the MIT
artificial intelligence lab learning operating system development by
Stallman pioneered the concept of “copyleft” and is the
main author of the GNU General Public License, the most widely-used free
software license. This is why since the mid-90s Stallman has spent most
of his time in political advocacy for free software and spreading the
ethical ideas as well as campaigning against both software patents and
dangerous extensions of copyright laws. That's why he's probably the
best guest we can get on to discuss Russia, China, the US: they're all
using copyright, and later admitting they're using it to shut down free
SOPA's just one manifestation of this. And this monster's receding
for now but it's guaranteed to come back very soon, in fact in a few
weeks. Here's the Associated Press; “Supreme Court Rules Congress
Can Re-Copyright Public Domain Works” that have been out for
hundreds of years, this is amazing, so here to break down the different
horrors of the expansion of copyright—to where you can't even use
[some] words now, they're saying—is Professor and
Dr. Stallman. Thank you for coming on with us, sir.
- Richard Stallman
- Hello. Well, let's go over it I mean what do you make of what's
happening right now?
- Well, I haven't read any details about today's Supreme Court
Decision, I haven't seen that yet. But previously other Supreme Court
decisions said it was unconstitutional to recopyright anything that was
in the public domain. But this is a very pro-business Supreme Court, we
can't trust it to protect human rights. They're going to give those
human rights to corporations, and protect the rights of corporations,
but not the rights of humans in any practical sense.
- Yes, sir. What got you started developing the ideas that have become
the free software movement that you kicked off?
I lived in a free software community in the 1970's, although we
didn't use that term, when I was working at the artificial intelligence
lab at MIT. It was part of a community where we shared the software that
we developed, and all the software that we used was the software of the
community, and we were happy to share it with anyone that was interested
in it, and we hoped that if they improved it they would share it back,
and often they did.
But this community died in the early 80's, leaving
me face to face with the proprietary software world, which is the way
everyone else was using software. And by comparison to the life of
freedom I was used to, proprietary software was ugly—morally
So I balked at that, I said I am not going to accept the life of
proprietary software, I would be ashamed of my life if I did that, so I
decided to build a new free software community. Since the old one was
based on software for obsolete computers, it was necessary to start
again from scratch. So I launched that project, and now there are free
operating systems, now it's just barely possible to use computers and
not be subjugated by software developers of nonfree software.
- But expanding that, with just basic text copyright, take Righthaven,
they've been absolutely destroyed in court, they sued a lot of people
across the spectrum for even taking a paragraph in a comment board where
it was clearly a third party that had even done it, and they were backed
by the Associated Press and others, I mean that is really creep to have
the Associated Press and others actually suing, you know, quadriplegics
and community activist groups helping homeless people because they had
one paragraph of their article and clearly were discussing in many cases
their own—they were in the news article, they were posting it on
their blog about them for humanitarian discussion, couldn't get any more
clear [that it's] free speech, and they were being sued.
- Well, if they went to court they might win, the defendants might win
on the grounds of fair use, the problem is it's hard to tell in advance
and it costs you a lot of money to go to court and find out, so those
people probably didn't have enough money to stand up for what are
possibly their rights, plausibly their rights. But because of the way
fair use is defined in copyright law it's not a clear permission. It's a
rather vaguely-drawn defense against charges of copyright infringement.
- Yeah, case by case. Shifting gears, overall, specifically on SOPA is
it heartening for you to see the big blackouts, to see…
It is. And what this means is, that we can sometimes defeat the
copyright lobby when it demands increased power. Of course, we haven't
defeated them yet. We are at least coming close to defeating them, and
maybe we'll defeat them, but everybody listening to this, you've got to
phone your senators today, because they're going to vote next week. So
at least even if we don't actually defeat them we'll have mounted a
campaign that will have come fairly close.
This is the first time it's been such a fight. When the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act was passed, the law that censors software that
you can use to decode encrypted publications, that you can use to break
digital handcuffs; that was passed in the House of Representatives
without an explicit vote, it was considered totally uncontroversial,
there were just a few of us saying that this is an injustice.
And that's why Digital Restrictions Management or DRM is such a pain
nowadays, because of that law that the copyright lobby purchased in
1998, which bans the software capable of breaking the digital handcuffs.
So I am against anything that the copyright lobby wants until they start
undoing some of the injustices they've already imposed on us.
- Doctor, let me try to quantify that from my layman's perspective and
correct me if I'm wrong, but this is what I see as the injustice:
they're talking about their rights as they attempt to put a preemptive,
non-deliberative, no due process, guilty until proven guilty
- Guilty until proven innocent, I think you meant.
- Well, I was being sarcastic, I mean you're guilty basically, period.
Yeah, guilty until proven guilty, I was being sarcastic…
- Oh, OK.
- But I mean you're guilty up front. And they're basically just
gobbling up the Internet, gobbling up what people have created, gobbling
up everything like they're masters of the Universe, and until they
become reasonable, there's no point in discussing anything with them,
because they're not giving anyone quarter.
I agree. But furthermore, the more subtle thing that they're doing
is that they're trying to focus attention on their problems as if their
problems needed to be catered to while distracting away from the
problems they have already imposed on us.
I hope we completely defeat SOPA. But don't forget that copyright
law in the US already gives them too much power. Of course they're not
satisfied, they always want more, that's what the 1% do to the 99%, but
even if we stop them from getting more, that's not enough.
We've got to aim for more than just preventing them from making it
worse. We've got to undo some of the injustices they have already done
to us. We have to put an end to the war on sharing, which is a cruel
war that attacks all of us.
Now, when I say sharing, I mean something specific. I mean
non-commercial copying and redistribution of published works. Exact
copies, that means, not modifications. That's a rather limited freedom,
but that's a freedom all must have so that the war on sharing ends and
copyright ceases to be tyranny.
Now, that means they've got to stop using digital handcuffs. Lots of
products nowadays are designed with digital handcuffs. Every DVD player
you can buy has digital handcuffs…
Let me give people an example. I have a TV studio, I have a TV show,
I make films. I buy prosumer and professional equipment, and half of
our technical difficulties with digital TVs, monitors, cameras is having
the right software keys, everything talking to each other plugged in, it
has to authenticate that I'm allowed to run a video through it, it's all
spying on me and screwing up my entire operation, my whole life is about
complying with this stuff, and I bought it and I'm in here using it to
produce TV, and as the 80 inventors of the Internet pointed out, this
SOPA would cripple the Internet by putting all these pre-restrictions on
Well, yes. The worst thing in SOPA is that it becomes easy to shut
down any website where the public is posting things. It just takes an
accusation that somebody posted something that was infringing copyright
and it becomes almost impossible for that site to keep operating.
That's why Wikipedia decided to go black yesterday, because it would be
impossible to operate something even vaguely like Wikipedia under the
rules of SOPA.
Now, after the show's over I'd like you to tell me more about the
precise details of your problems with these TV systems or have your
technical person tell me because that's an area I don't know about, and
I want to know about the details of that.
- Sure, if you'd like that, Doctor, I actually have two engineers
here, and they can explain it to you, but you know we have TV sets
behind me on the nightly news and they're digital, and just to run feeds
to them to talk to a guest on Skype or to have a blue background behind
me, all the TVs you buy that are prosumer or even professional now, it
has a gate in it that scans to see if I'm even streaming something over
it that's copyright, and then it's endless—to use software, you've
got to have the dongle in the machine, and then that screws
Well that's 'cause you're using proprietary software. See with
software there are just two possibilities—either the users control
the program or the program controls the users. What you're seeing is
that with proprietary software, the software controls the users.
Now, what's proprietary software? That's any software for which the
users don't have the freedom to run it as they wish, study and change
the source code, and redistribute it either with or without changes.
- Sure, just to be clear, doctor…
- …control. But with Windows or MacOS or Skype the software
controls the users. That's why I will not use any of that.
- Well, it is the machine surveying us, preemptively turning us into
slaves. A lot of our operation is run on Linux systems, I'm not a tech
- Uh-uh, they're not Linux systems, they're GNU systems, and you're
talking about my work there.
You're right, you are the progenitor of that with GNU that other
things grew out of. So GNU systems, we do have a lot of those, one of
our IT people just absolutely loves your work and has tried to build a
lot of things around here like that.
But separately, when I've got a pretty big operation—it's not
that big, like 34 people—sometimes we've gotta hurry, we've gotta
buy software to run TV shows, we've got to get equipment, I'm talking
about solid state stuff that won't work as well. All I'm saying is that
it screws everything up.
- Hardware can be malicious too. And the encryption of video between
a computer and a monitor is an example of a malicious hardware feature
that has been put into essentially all modern PCs by a conspiracy of
…including hardware companies and media companies, so you can
see it! They buy laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to
forbid people to escape from these things, and then they can design our
technology to abuse us however they wish.
So what you can see is that proprietary software—even when
there's hardware that's malicious, the software has to make use of the
malicious features, so the proprietary software's involved also. And
when software's proprietary, it is likely to have malicious features in
it to spy, to restrict, and there's even back doors that accept remote
commands to do things.
That's what I was about to get to, sir. We're talking to Richard
Stallman, free software inventor, creator, guru, Obi-Wan Kenobi type, so
much of what we live with today that is the only alternative to what the
big corporate borg are oppressing us with, did come out of his
But expanding on this, doc, that's what I'm saying. I've tried to get
the freer systems and I'm saying in many cases it does not exist. I
don't have the money to hire an army of people that are trained in free
software to be able to even attempt it, and what you said is true.
There's all these trojan horses built into everything, and I'm even
paying for it, and it's junk no matter how expensive because the whole
thing is tied down with these handcuffs, and it just absolutely stifles
innovation as you said thirty years ago.
- Mmn-hmmn. Although it does worse than stifle innovation. You see,
innovation is the sacred cow of people who claim that they need to be
allowed to restrict us. They say if they can restrict us they'll do more
innovation. But innovation can be good or bad. Democracy was once an
innovation. Tyranny was once an innovation. So innovation can serve us.
- Bioweapons were once an innovation.
- Innovation will only serve us if we have control over what
innovations we'll accept and what innovations we'll reject. So I do not
accept innovation as sufficiently important to justify taking away our
freedom. Yes, I'd like innovation all else being equal assuming we have
freedom. But when somebody argues, “give up your freedom so we can
have more innovation,” that is literally a trojan horse.
- Well that's well said, but my point is, they are—I mean,
everybody knows Microsoft stuff works horribly because it's all got back
doors, spy systems, and it's just total crap. Because, excuse my French
there, because they're obsessed and control freaks; Bill Gates!
- Yup. But it's not just Microsoft. I've got to point out that Apple
is even worse…
- Oh yeah.
- And Amazon is horrible. The Amazon “Swindle” and eBook
reader has known spy features, of course it has digital handcuffs, and
it has a back door for deleting books. Did you know that Amazon remotely
deleted thousands of books in 2009?
- Yeah, 1984!
- Right. Someone wrote they used up a year's supply of irony
demonstrating the Orwellian nature of their product, which they call the
Kindle because it's designed to burn our books. But they demonstrated it
by deleting Orwell's book.
- Oh, that's another point. They've got this Kazaa thing
[Note—Youtube's content fingerprinting system was actually
licensed from AudibleMagic in 2007] where I've had rights to music, I've
uploaded it, but because it's in some registrar, suddenly it shuts down
the audio on my videos that millions of people are watching, and even
though I have letters sending them to Youtube that I have license here,
it doesn't matter because the computer recognizes and did that, and they
now admit they could erase my voice off of these major systems in a
matter of hours with the same technology—I mean, you talk about
dangerous having all the books digital, they could just hit a
- That's why I won't use such systems, I will never use anything like
the Amazon Kindle for my books, because I want to have books that I can
read without any proprietary technology, I want to buy them without
identifying myself, and I'm not willing to sign a contract to get them.
If I buy a paper book, I can do it with cash in a book store, I don't
sign a contract, and my eyes without any aid at all, or at most perhaps
some lenses, can see the letters. I'm not required to get some secret
technology just to see what the letters in the book are.
- So I will never use those eBooks under any circumstances, and I hope
that the rest of you will join me. If you want to read more about this,
http://stallman.org/articles/ebooks.pdf, and at the bottom of that
there's a link to a place you can sign up to participate in our campaign
against tyrannical eBooks systems.
- I had read some of your writings on this, but the way you put it, we
can really see it being put into function. I mean, this is a tyranny,
they've designed the current web system as a tyranny, consciously, as
you said, the big corporations, and the sick part is when we pay the
licenses and buy the equipment, we're paying for their own trojan horse
for them to engage in beyond Orwellian behavior.
- Well, I wouldn't say beyond Orwellian, after all Oceania did things
even worse than destroying books, they just murdered people, but the
point is we have to reject these systems, and that's the basic idea of
the free software movement—I won't accept the systems that are
designed to take away my freedom.
- OK, Doctor, I'm going to try to get you in touch right now with one
of the engineers to give you any of that information you want, and I'll
say bye to you during the break, perhaps you could even come back for a
couple more minutes on the other side and tell us more about solutions,
but, just intriguing to hear you on with us and all the points that you
bring up, it absolutely makes sterling sense.
- Alex Jones
Well, Richard Stallman, Dr. Richard Stallman, free software
creator of the GNU system that everything is pretty much based on today,
Linux, you name it, is our guest for five more minutes. He's going to
be gone for a while, but hopefully coming up in a few months, we'll be
able to get him on for a full hour because everything he talks about
just totally clicks; because I'm not an IT person, but I live
12–14 hours per day around it, we're an Internet operation pretty
much, we're on commercial radio as well and XM, but I live it and I've
experienced what he's talking about and all the points he makes ties
right in to what I'm just organically seeing as a lay person here, but I
was bringing up some intriguing stuff to him during the break.
We have the articles we had the Time-Warner executives send us the
internal documents after we surmised it, an example of these trojan
horses. The TiVo systems, the Time-Warner cable systems and others.
When they censored the Jesse Ventura TV show, it aired once, congress
went crazy on the FEMA camps, ordered them not to air it again, that
later came out in congress, it was a big scandal, suddenly off of DVRs
nationwide, cable systems you name it, it disappeared. We confirmed it
through one Time-Warner office that they were ordered to put the command
in. They'd never seen that before.
But the point is, you pay for cable, you have a DVR, you record on it
and then they go in and erase. And I know you want to see the proof of
that, we'll get it to you, Doctor, but if true, what do you make of
- Richard Stallman
- It's just another example of how nonfree software is a restriction
on the users, and it's an injustice. So if you look around at any
nonfree software you've heard of, you know, various products that have
nonfree software in them, every one of them should not be that way.
- Yeah, it's very very sad that this is all going on, we're paying for
our own prison. In just 3 or 4 minutes, because I know you've got to
go, Doctor, what are some other solutions or things we can start doing
to weaken the power of the corporate borg?
Well, all across the various areas of life we can see corporations
taking control of our government and using that power to hurt most
people. Of course, there's the financial crisis, and all the Americans
are facing foreclosures. A lot of these foreclosures are fraudulent,
the banks are committing fraud when they foreclose, and right now we're
pushing Obama not to let them off the hook, which is what he wants them
to do. There are a few states where the Attorneys-General are trying to
pursue the banksters for their fraudulent foreclosures, and there are
protests run by Move On, today, I'm going to go to one of them this
afternoon, but that's just one example.
Of course, the banks created the downturn by purchasing deregulation
in Congress. And then if we look at, for instance, agribusiness which
has basically crushed family farming in the US and now gets tremendous
subsidies to these corporations, subsidies which were originally meant
to help family farmers, and that made sense. But nowadays, it's just
subsidies to big business. And then you look at the private prison
industry, which is a great reason […]
They use the prisoners, they have the prisoners work, but it's the
company that gets the money. The prisoner gets paid like 50 cents a
day, which is even better for them than hiring somebody in Mexico or
China. And so, that's a reason to imprison more Americans because
they're effectively slave labor.
And then we will get the oil companies, and they push for burning up
our planet. You may have followed the fight to block the Keystone XL
planet roaster pipeline, and that's not dead either.
So what is it these things have in common? What they have is,
corporations have power so we need to clean up politics. We need to get
corporate money out of politics.
And I got a book yesterday, let me read the exact title, it's
“Corporations Are Not People” by Jeffrey Clements, and this
proposes a constitutional amendment to say “no, when the
constitution gives rights to people or persons it's not talking about
Well, the power to give corporations rights so they can then stomp on
our rights, it's very very frightening, and for those who don't know,
you couldn't even have corporations in this country the way they are
until about the last 130 years or so, before that they had limited
duration to build a bridge or to do some type of program. And I
understand a little company having a corporation so you can have
different people involved together, but the idea of giving it more
rights than the humans, and then having these crooks that run it.
I mean, take Mitt Romney: he's got most his money in the Cayman
Islands, and he's running around lecturing everybody, and he's paying
almost no taxes.
- Well, he said that corporations are people and someone pointed out
that if that's true, then he's a serial killer.
- Ha-ha, yeah I saw that!
I don't want to abolish corporations either, but we must abolish the
political power of business. In this country, it's taken for granted
that powerful business has a veto over everything. And that means it's
taken for granted that we've lost our democracy. No one should think
about that without feeling disgusted and saying this must be
Get that book, because he explains how it's not an accident that the
Supreme Court gave corporations unlimited power to pay for political
ads. It's the culmination of a 40-year or 35-year perhaps campaign for
giving human rights to corporations.
- It is very very dangerous, and now those corporations are destroying
our sovereignty, our local control. Dr. Stallman, thank you so
much for spending time with us and again give us your website and any
other websites you think are important for people to look at.
- For free software, look at the Free Software Foundation site, that
is http://fsf.org, and you can join, if you
wish. For my other political causes, look at http://stallman.org. And if you want to
join our fight against digital handcuffs (DRM), go to http://defectivebydesign.org.
And for the danger of eBooks and how they take away our freedom, look at
- Alright, doc, thanks for the time, but in the final statement, just
reiterating you think it's really exciting that there's such an
awakening to the power grabbing of the copyright industry and the fact
that Hollywood and others just think they control the known Universe,
and this has certainly gotten their attention, what do you expect them
to do now? How will…
They'll find another way. You see, whether we defeat SOPA or not,
even if we defeat it, it'll be clear that we defeated it because the
measures they wanted to take were going to cause tremendous damage to
everything around them. But if they propose something else that'll give
them more power, but won't hurt other companies, they might still get
away with it.
So what that means is we still have a long way to go in building up
our opposition to the point where we can start to undo some of the
injustices they have already put into copyright law.
- So it was just so ham-fisted and so brazen bull in a china cabinet,
they were unable to get it, but they will come back. And it does show,
I mean, remember five years ago, when McCain said “let's pass a
bill where no judge, no jury, no proof we just kill your computer if we
think you did something copyright,” I mean, this is overthrowing
our entire Magna Charta, our entire constitution. I mean, it's
tyrannical on it's face, Doc.
- Absolutely. But that's what big business is like. Big business
just wants power and has no respect for anything.
- Wow. Well, I look forward to speaking with you again, thank you so
- Happy hacking! Thanks for giving me the chance.
- Yeah, thanks for being with us.