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Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen to Speak at GWU's Cyberspace Policy Institute's Free Software Conference

A plain text version of this press release is available.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Cyberspace Policy Institute
Tony Stanco <Tony@FreeDevelopers.net>
Phone: +1-202-994-5513

Free Software Foundation
Bradley M. Kuhn <pr@gnu.org>
Phone: +1-617-542-5942

“Free Software: The Free Market/Free Speech Solution to the Microsoft Antitrust Problem” on October 10, 2001

Washington, D.C., USA - Monday, September 24, 2001 - Dr. Richard Stallman, founder and President of the Free Software Foundation, and Eben Moglen, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and General Counsel for the FSF, will speak at George Washington University's Cyberspace Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., October 10, 2001 at the CPI's Free Software Conference: “Free Software: the Free Market/Free Speech Solution to the Microsoft Antitrust Problem.”

The Free Software Foundation promotes the development and use of Free Software—particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants—and Free Documentation for Free Software. GNU/Linux is the integrated combination of the GNU operating system with the kernel, Linux, written by Linus Torvalds in 1991. The various versions of GNU/Linux have an estimated 20 million users worldwide.

“If code is law, then the real question we must face is: who should control the code?” says Dr. Stallman. “Can it be left to a few companies to secretly do whatever they please with the code, regardless of the interests of the public at large?

“Software today can control the way the world lives, communicates and does business,” Dr. Stallman continues. “Proprietary software is typically secret—you can't change it, or even see what it really does. You can't tell if it has back doors, or sends your personal information to a server on the net. You cannot even prevent changes that are detrimental, such as a future version unable to access the files you are saving today.

“A choice of proprietary programs is just a choice of masters. Should the code you use be under the control of Microsoft, or any other private company? Or should you control the software you use?

“Free Software provides a democratic alternative. The GNU General Public License, or GPL, was specifically designed to make sure the public's right to the software freedoms we feel are vital in a free society are defended and upheld for everyone. I use the expression ‘free society’ deliberately in this context, so there will be no misunderstanding about the meaning of the word ‘free’ in ‘Free Software’. It refers to freedom—the freedom to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. We are not opposed to profit or to business, but business must respect the public's freedom and community if it is to be legitimate.”

Dr. Stallman will explain what Free Software means, briefly give its history, explain how software freedoms are currently being threatened by software patents, the DMCA, and the Hague Treaty, and show how Microsoft can use such tools to create a new monopoly, as well as make clear how government agencies, researchers, schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and all users can benefit by switching from proprietary to Free Software.

Professor Moglen will speak about copyright and patent law and how proprietary software restricts the freedoms of software developers and of users, as well as speaking on the impact of the Free Software Movement.

“Free Software is an ethical movement that establishes the constructive alternative to corporate globalization,” says Professor Moglen. “It is a technical movement that has changed the software industry and can make monopolization impossible forever. And it is the centerpiece of the New Economy. Microsoft and its allies will spend tens of millions of dollars this year telling lies about Free Software. On October 10, you can learn the truth about Free Software from the people who made it happen.”

Eben Moglen holds a Ph.D. in history and a J.D. from Yale University. Moglen is currently a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University Law School and serves as general counsel for the Free Software Foundation. His homepage is http://moglen.law.columbia.edu/.

Tony Stanco, Esq., Founder of FreeDevelopers.net and Senior Policy Analyst of the Cyberspace Policy Institute says, “The moral question between Free and proprietary software ultimately revolves around this issue: Is software more like law? (Which ought to be Free and open to public inspection, so that the public can participate in the formation of the social contract by which they will be governed). Or is it more like literature? (Which has been traditionally viewed as the creator's private property). It's increasingly clear that with the Internet, software has begun to supplement the traditional function of law and that digital machines are fast becoming a nonhuman, cyberpolice force watching and directing everything people do.

“The Cyberspace Policy Institute decided to sponsor this conference so that policymakers in Washington, their staff, the press, students, and all who are interested in how software can affect them, can be introduced to Free Software and meet those who began the Free Software Movement.

Tony Stanco will also say a few words on: Why the world's richest company is attacking the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) by calling it a “cancer”, a “destroyer” of innovation, “anti-American”? Whether this is true, or whether Microsoft dislikes the GPL because the four freedoms it establishes for computer users make monopolies hard to sustain? How Free Software created products, like the GNU/Linux operating system, that compete with Microsoft's Windows on heavy-duty servers in the back office? Why the principles of the new Intellectual Age are fundamentally different from those of the previous Industrial Age? Whether Software Freedom can restore innovation and creativity to the software industry and provide a way to solve the Microsoft antitrust question? Whether Microsoft's .Net initiative will inevitably continue its monopoly? Or will Free Software's DotGNU project break the Microsoft stranglehold and liberate computer users to control the software they use?

Tony Stanco said, “We invited Microsoft to send a representative to join in the conference, because it seemed unfortunate that Craig Mundie, VP of Microsoft, has not yet had the opportunity to debate on the subject of the GPL face to face with Dr. Stallman, the man who created it. He has not accepted our invitation to date, but he is still welcome. It's an open invitation.”

The event will be held Wednesday, October 10, 2001 in the George Washington University Marvin Center Ballroom (800 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052), beginning at 12:00 noon and ending at 5:00 PM. There will be a break at midpoint, with light refreshments served.

For more information and to register for this free event, please go to the Cyberspace Policy Institute website [http://www.cpi.seas.gwu.edu/].

About GNU:

GNU is a Free Software Unix-like operating system. Development of GNU began in 1984. The site, at http://www.gnu.org, explains the GNU project in detail.

GNU/Linux is the integrated combination of the GNU operating system with the kernel, Linux, written by Linus Torvalds in 1991. The various versions of GNU/Linux have an estimated 20 million users. Some people call the GNU/Linux system “Linux”, but this misnomer leads to confusion (people cannot tell whether you mean the whole system, or the kernel, which is one part), and spreads an inaccurate picture of the system's history and origin. Making a consistent distinction between GNU/Linux, the whole operating system, and Linux, the kernel, is the best way to clear up the confusion.

About the Free Software Foundation:

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of Free (as in freedom) Software—particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants—and Free Documentation for Free Software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software. Their web site, located at http://www.fsf.org, is an important source of information about GNU/Linux. They are headquartered in Boston, MA, USA.

About Cyberspace Policy Institute:

The Cyberspace Policy Institute is a center at George Washington University to promote the analysis of policy problems that have a significant computer systems component. Inside GW, the Institute brings together researchers with interests in these areas, bridging discipline barriers, much as the new information age is bridging cultural and geopolitical barriers. Outside of the University, it works with government and private organizations to examine important issues in computer and communications systems policy. The Institute carries out studies and hosts seminars and conferences that move society towards rational and informed discussion of these critical changes. CPI's mission is to encourage, promote, facilitate, and execute interdisciplinary research in areas related to the nexus of society and the Internet. The site is http://www.cpi.seas.gwu.edu.

About DotGNU:

DotGNU, a joint FreeDevelopers and GNU Project, will be a complete Free Software replacement for the Microsoft .NET initiative. Unlike the centralization of important Internet functions on Microsoft-controlled servers, DotGNU will use a decentralized paradigm with personal information and authorization/authentication functions on the user's own home or corporate machines, or other distributed network of trusted intermediaries, like existing Internet service providers or financial institutions. The site is http://www.gnu.org/projects/dotgnu/.

About FreeDevelopers.net:

FreeDevelopers is an international self-regulatory organization of Free Software developers for the development of Free Software. The purpose of FreeDevelopers is to create a viable, for profit, business model for Free Software development. The commercial principles of the new Intellectual Age are substantially different from those of the Industrial Age, because intellectual products are most efficiently produced by an inclusionary paradigm, not the exclusionary one of the previous epoch. FreeDevelopers was founded by Tony Stanco, Esq., a former Senior Attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Internet and software group. Tony Stanco has a LL.M. in securities regulation from the Georgetown University Law Center. He is also a Senior Policy Analyst with the Cyberspace Policy Institute at George Washington University. The site is http://www.FreeDevelopers.net..

 [FSF logo] “Our mission is to preserve, protect and promote the freedom to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer software, and to defend the rights of Free Software users.”

The Free Software Foundation is the principal organizational sponsor of the GNU Operating System. Support GNU and the FSF by buying manuals and gear, joining the FSF as an associate member, or making a donation, either directly to the FSF or via Flattr.

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