Wednesday, December 20, 2006

join the Free Software Foundation

Microsoft is stepping up their campaign to undermine linux (by claiming patent rights against the linux kernel and subverting Novell to the dark side). The centre of the resistance to this move is the Free Software Foundation. The fight back, led by Eben Moglen, is based around changing the GPL license, ie complex legal manouevring. One way to help is to become a member of the FSF, which involves a yearly donation. I just joined.

Some of the ways to become involved are:
  • increase your understanding of the huge battle being waged over intellectual property - recent changes to Australian copyright law, Digital Right (Restrictions) Management issues, increasing invasion to privacy by companies like MS spying on computers through their automatic updates
  • understanding the importance, history and dynamics of the battle over software rights - proprietary, free (Richard Stallman), open source (Eric Raymond) - many blogs and books, eg. Benkler's The Wealth of Networks, are now being devoted to this topic
  • You don't have to be a software hacker to get involved. Publish your own work under the Creative Commons license scheme, developed by Lessig and others.
  • DIY by using linux and free software, it is becoming more user friendly all the time. I have recently installed Ubuntu linux on a second computer and it was relatively hassle free process. btw see my blog about Mark Shuttleworth, amazing biography!
  • join the FSF
  • join the pirate party of your country. I have joined the Australian pirate party, which is ridiculously small but which is based on the Swedish pirate party which gained 34,918 votes, or 0.63% of the popular vote in their September 2006 elections - they needed 4% to get someone elected
Raise awareness, get involved, support those who are battling for the rights of free software.


Anonymous said...

I'm really impressed with some of the decisions you've been making lately.

Good on you Bill. Keep up the good work.

Miguel Guhlin (@mGuhlin) said...

Thanks for sharing your decision. I've been contemplating it, but have not moved forward yet. Given the choice of non-free (with DRM, etc) and free, I see only one choice for educators, and for the masses ignorant of how they are being controlled, "milked" or "shorn."

Take care...grateful I "rediscovered" your blogs,
Around the

Bill Kerr said...

hi miguel,

It's a bit like drip torture, proprietary version. MS spyware, DRM, discovering Ubuntu / Shuttleworth, reading Benkler were the drips that pushed me over the edge. Now only if all the bloggers in the world, would switch off their computers, go out into the street and together shout: "I've had enough of this proprietary shit". But no, people will change, drip by drip, incremental process. Perhaps one day in the future people will view proprietary a bit like typewriters and 5.25 inch floppy discs (quaint historical entities). Then we'll have to find something else to argue about.

Miguel Guhlin (@mGuhlin) said...

Tell me more about Benkler.


Bill Kerr said...

hi miguel,

I bought Benkler because Lessig said it was a must read and I have some faith in Lessig. So far, I've read 110pp of his 500+ page book. It's broadened and deepened my view of issues that I was already partially aware of.

Here are a couple of recent blog posts based on my reading of Benkler:
the economic quirkiness of information
battle for freedom of information

CoasesPenguin is an online earlier piece by Benkler (73pp)

In a later blog lessig recommends three academic authors:

"But if you really don't see that there are different economies, then I suggest you spend sometime reading the very best scholarship about what's new about the Internet. Benkler, Weber, and von Hippel are my favorite examples; though not directly on point, much in Chris Anderson's The Long Tail points in the same direction." (visit the Lessig blog to get links to all three / four)