#199 - RMS lecture
Posted on Fri 05/18/07 at 12:50, 2199 days ago
Yesterday Richard M. Stallman (RMS) paid our university a visit and gave a lecture about free software. He spoke a lot about copyright law, and how broken it is. I must say, I was expecting him to be overzealous, but instead I think he was sort of realistic. I found myself agreeing with a lot of his opinions.
He had a lot of good examples and stories to throw at potential dissidents. One of the better ones was related to copyright (of course). He claimed that Shakespeare's works were influenced by stories that had been written a few decades prior to Shakespeare's. Had we had copyright law then as we know it now, then Shakespeare's works would never have been published, and we wouldn't have read them. The same scenario applies today, when people are accused of copyright infringement. The original author could claim that he or she doesn't want any "cheap knockoffs" of his or her work. It's just that since any influenced works are never published, we will never know if they're really just "cheap knockoffs" or masterful works of art, merely using the same basic story as another work.
After the lecture he answered some questions from the audience. I asked him if he encouraged people to break the law if it favored freedom as he had defined it. He replied that he did indeed encourage people to do this. We must constantly reflect over the laws we have and think about whether they actually make sense or not. If a law does not serve the people, then it's not a good law. Laws are no absolute truths.
After the lecture I asked him if he thought voting for a certain party in the US presidential election could make things better, to which he replied that he had mostly given up hope on the US. That made me a bit disillusioned. I know that the situation is very bad, but I wasn't expecting RMS, of all people, to give up. I guess the US gave up on him, so he's giving up on the US. Or something.
The computer society at the university, Lysator, videotaped the lecture, so when I find a link to the video I'll post it here.Post comment
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