This is a speech that I recorded so it could be played at a free
software event in Curitiba, Brazil (the state of Parana), in November,
2003. A few points in the speech will not be clear without some
The event was actually a corporate trade show, but its title gave the
impression of being more of an activist event. The organizers
recruited a free software activist to run the speeches track, and he
convinced me to attend. Between the title and the fact that my friend
was the one asking me, and the fact that the state government of
Parana was sponsoring the event, I assumed it was bona-fide free
software activism. I agreed to go.
A scandal broke in Brazil when it became known that the event had
accepted Microsoft as a major sponsor. My friend tried to defend this
as “spending the enemy's money”; he didn't realize that Microsoft
knows what it is doing when it buys its way into such events. Then he
told me, “Besides, the other major sponsor was Oracle.”
Most of our community is not sufficiently politically aware to
recognize that Oracle's sponsorship ought to be just as scandalous as
Microsoft's. Regardless of who the owner is, nonfree software
tramples your freedom.
I was not sure whether to attend the conference or boycott it.
Ultimately I was unable to go to Brazil because of my broken arm. I
decided that any harm my participation might do was already done
through the use of my name, and that it was better for me to give a
speech about what had gone wrong than not to do so.
In this speech, I sought to educate rather than attack the free
software activists who participated in the event, as well as the state
government of Parana, which I hope will continue promoting free
software in the future, but next time will get better guidance in how
to do so.