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RMS Calls to Liberate Cyberspace 578

Henri Poole writes "In an interview with Groklaw's Sean Daly at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, RMS talks with passion about the dangers of DRM. From the article: 'the point is, we shouldn't be passive victims! We should decide that it will not happen! And the way we decide that is by activism. We have to do everything possible to make sure that those products are rejected, that they fail, that they give bad reputations to whoever makes them.' He closed the interview with a far reaching goal for the Free Software Movement: 'the goal is to liberate everyone in cyberspace.'"
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RMS Calls to Liberate Cyberspace

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:25AM (#15603615)
    I always enjoy it when Richard Stallman gives interviews. He was probably the first person--many, many years ago!--to fundamentally understand that we have a CHOICE of whether we want to preserve freedoms to do whatever we want with our software, or whether we're going to let other parties take those freedoms away from us.

    Also, he had the guts to stand up for his freedoms and everyone else's, to be able to do what they want with their software. He's done more than just about any other single person to try and protect those freedoms for regular folks like you and me.

    Can you imagine what the software landscape would look like today without the GPL, without the FSF and without all the free software that has been licensed under the GPL (both by the FSF and by many other open-source contributors)? Even if many of us continue to use non-free systems such as Windows XP, it is nice to know we have a choice. And we WOULDN'T have that choice anymore if Richard and many others had not stood up when they did.

    Lots of people criticise Richard Stallman, but in my view nearly all of those people are either (1) immature kids who wouldn't pass a real civics class if they were ever put in one, (2) people who don't understand the real issues and how fundamental they are, or (3) shills or trolls or other people with an anti-freedom agenda.

    There are a small number of people who understand the issues but aren't particularly concerned about them; extreme pragmatists like Linus probably fall into this category. Still, I don't often hear Linus or others from this category criticising Stallman.

    The people who criticise Richard Stallman are those who are afraid of his message.
  • Interesting read. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mikachu ( 972457 ) <burke@jeremiahj.gmail@com> on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:29AM (#15603624) Homepage
    I really can't say it gave all that much new information, but he definitely made some points. DRM, in any shape or form, is essentially incompatible with the idea of Free Software. When your goal is to restrict the public, there's really no room for compromise. Richard Stallman = smart man.
  • DRM education (Score:5, Insightful)

    by remembertomorrow ( 959064 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:30AM (#15603625)
    I think the biggest problem is educating the public about what DRM is.

    In my experiences, after explaining what DRM is to people that I know, they think it is the dumbest thing that they have ever heard.

    I am sure the public would reject it, but the problem remains then: how do we educate the public? :/
  • Education? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MostAwesomeDude ( 980382 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:31AM (#15603627) Homepage
    Before liberation, shouldn't we educate the public first? Most people today know nothing about DRM, FSF, or that MP3 is a patented format. We all remember the Sony rootkit scandal, but the average consumer does not. The average consumer uses proprietary Windows formats and never considers the dangerous problems that closed systems present to free information. As long as the ignorant masses stay complacent and docile, and as long as consumers obsesquiently gobble up DRM-laced products, there is no chance that free software will win.
  • by bunions ( 970377 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:36AM (#15603640)
    The people who criticise Richard Stallman are those who are afraid of his message.

    In the same way that I am sympathetic to the animal rights movement yet think PETA is counterproductive, I am sympathetic to the Open Source movement yet think Stallman is, generally, overshrill for his/our own good. The idea that you have to match extremity with extremity in politics finds no home with me.

  • by poptones ( 653660 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:40AM (#15603648) Journal
    what of the Indian peasant who, thanks to his cellphone, now has more up to date market information and, because of this, is better able to provide for his family? Should he be "liberated" from that technology because it is proprietary, non free, non gratis, owned by the evil corporate horde?

    RMS says our goal should be to liberate everyone in cyberspace (whatever that is). I say our goal should be to liberate everyone on earth - from poverty and disease and whatever else needs fixin'. It may never happen, but in a world where only perhaps - at best - 20 percent of the population even has such connectivity, saying only that elite should be included in the revolution seems to me nothing more than a recipe for even greater division and oppression.
  • by Broadcatch ( 100226 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:42AM (#15603655) Homepage
    I couldn't agree more.

    The fact that machines are being built to suppress what people can do with them rather than to enhance our abilities to grow and perhaps go beyond their intended purposes makes them defective by design [defectivebydesign.org]. Imagine not being able to make a copy of your music for use in your car because you already have one at home, one at your office, and three that were made for iPods (the first two of which were lost or broken). What if you wanted to include it in a mix tape [sic]?

    Or it's like buying a computer that will only run M$ software - software that purposely spies on everything you do so that M$ can "protect" you from doing something their contract (that you signed when you turned the machine on) disallows.

    It's FUBAR.
  • by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:44AM (#15603659)
    DRM isn't dangerous... DRM is simply encryption, and encryption isn't bad. I don't think anyone here wants encryption restricted in any way. Everyone has the right to encrypt any data in any way they want, period!

    What IS dangerous is the government requiring DRM or giving it special legal protection. It is dangerous if the government mandates DRM, and makes it illegal for me to circumvent DRM. If I can crack the DRM on media, and convert it to an unprotected format for myself, without any fear of legal consequences, then my rights are not being restricted in any way.

    What is also dangerous is people thinking that the government should act against DRM. Seriously, that is just as bad as DRM. It is going to come back to bite people in the ass when those anti-DRM laws start restricting how you are allowed to encrypt your own data. If I create data, I want to be able to encrypt it in any way I choose... just because you find it annoying that it takes 10 seconds to run your itunes music through a utility to convert it to mp3, doesn't mean you have the right to restrict me from encrypting my data however I want.

    Basicly, keep all the legal restrictions out of it, and let people do whatever the hell they want want... that is the only truly safe thing to do.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:44AM (#15603660) Homepage Journal
    Anyone know where can I get this GNU Flash player that rocks? Anyone know where I can get a GNU Flash editor?


  • by bombshelter13 ( 786671 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:46AM (#15603663)
    >Should he be "liberated" from that technology because it is proprietary, non free, non gratis, owned >by the evil corporate horde?

    It depends on whether you're using 'liberate' in the RMS sense or the G. W. Bush sense.

    If you mean it in the Bush sense, and are liberating him by taking his technology away from him, then no, definately not.

    If you mean it in the RMS sense, and are liberating him by giving him a free, gratis alternative that isn't owned by the corporate horde, that he's free to use or discard at his leisure, then yes, immediately. Yesterday, if possible.
  • Re:DRM education (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoonFog ( 586818 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:53AM (#15603678)
    Most people know about region coding on DVD's, but they don't really care much. There are now DVD players that are region free, and the CSS thing has bascially just been forgotten. People have a short attention span, and if they are going to stand up for something, they need to see it happen to them regularly I guess.

    Educating them would also mean that they would have to give more thought in technology, and from my point of view, it seems most of them just want it to work. Perhaps we can hope that the DRM makers make DRM so incredibly hard to work out that people will actually pay attention to it. Until then, we're trying to swim uphill while picking up a couple of people here and there.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:56AM (#15603683)
    Obviously, denouncing DRM and the products and companies that sustain it is what any fair use advocate should do. But such a strategy will never work unless the unwashed masses are also made aware of how DRM negatively impacts their lives. The anti-DRM slashdot type accounts for such a small piece of the pie compared to the workaday single mom who wants to record her soaps in HD, or the 13-year-old girl who wants to record Britney's new trailer trash offering off of the radio, or the recent business school graduate who wants to save what he hears on his new XM or Sirius radio for later. All those folks will be seriously impacted by the encroachment of DRM as the digital entertainment age emerges, but none of them are aware that their fair use liberties are in danger.

    Now, if each of us told our parents and siblings about the imminent mainstream DRM fiasco, and all of them told their coworkers and fellow students, and so on, then maybe - just maybe - the public outrage would reach the critical point where Congress and the electronics companies would finally see the light and tell the copyright cartels where to cram it. Until then, the nerdiest of us will just have to sit and watch as our fair use rights are taken away one by one.

  • by trelayne ( 930715 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:56AM (#15603684)
    Well, better we have people with the courage and intellect of Superman than cowardly sheep who know how to stand and be shaved off better than standing up for themselves. Yes, let's wait for someone to hand over freedom on a platter while we criticize them for trying.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:57AM (#15603687)
    Stallman advocates Free Software, not Open Source Development (or at least not the latter without the former).
  • by visualight ( 468005 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:06AM (#15603715) Homepage
    I'm just glad he hasn't given up.

    On the other hand, it's a disappointment to see so many disparaging comments (mostly it seems from the same few AC trolls) whenever an RMS story is posted here. Personally, I think the "Open Source" world will continue to remain open and useful only for as long as RMS and the FSF keep it that way.

    Reading his interview I kept thinking about how many times I've seen a phrase like "DRM is coming and there's nothing you can do about it so get over it". I would always think "Why does it *have* to?" It's as if there's a whole generation of people who revel in their own apathy, dreading the prospect of DRM while they continue to buy Ipods,shop at I-tunes, and go to the movies.

    I tell everyone, all the time DON'T GO TO THE FUCKING MOVIES, DON'T BUY ANY CD'S, AND DON'T BUY ANY GODDAMN DVD'S, and if *most* of us on /. just did that much DRM would go away.

  • by Anthony Boyd ( 242971 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:08AM (#15603721) Homepage
    Lots of people criticise Richard Stallman, but in my view nearly all of those people are either (1) immature kids who wouldn't pass a real civics class if they were ever put in one, (2) people who don't understand the real issues and how fundamental they are, or (3) shills or trolls or other people with an anti-freedom agenda.

    Wow. Pre-emptively demonizing those who might dare disagree with the great RMS. I'm sure all those people won't post now!

    I think you've illustrated the RMS cult of personality far better than you realize. Keep that mind closed! It's much safer that way!

    Being a Christian, one of the things that saddened me greatly about my religion was how many believers were so unwilling to delve into religion. They didn't want to hear about any other religions, to be sure. But often they didn't even know their own, either. They'd make broad proclaimations about how their Jesus did X, Y, or Z -- even if it wasn't based on anything Biblical. They just knew Jesus didn't smoke, didn't dance, and was just like them. To quote Mandy Moore, "Jesus was white!" Probably spoke English too, I suppose.

    My point is this: an unexplored faith is no faith at all. An untested faith is not much better. A faith that survives only in the absence of competing theories isn't faith, it's a security blanket, a crutch for the weak. I've seen those Christians fall apart at the first frat party they experience. I've seen them compromise themselves the first time they fell in love with someone who didn't respect their beliefs.

    The strongest Christians are those who are able to hear what others believe, accept what those people feel without belittling them, and somehow manage to still find their faith to be a rock-solid foundation.

    Of course, anyone could respond with snarky comments about religion, but that would miss the point. The parallel is what is important here. Mr. Coward is promoting the same sort of head-in-the-sand thinking that so many of my fellow Christians unknowingly endorse -- "a contrary opinion must be stupid, don't even entertain the thought!" And just as that kind of thinking makes for weak Christians, it makes for weak RMS fanboys. And that makes me very skeptical about the merits of their opinions.

  • Re:DRM education (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:16AM (#15603739)
    A big part of the problem is that the hyperbole about the terrors of DRM seen at Slashdot and other places doesn't correspond to the reality of how people perceive their DVD players and iPods.

    Admittedly, DRM could have terrible consequences, but right now a key part of the next generation DRM is the "managed copy" bits which the consumer ironically perceives as granting them *more* rights rather than less because the copying features are integrated into the product. You see this already in Apple's Fairplay system.

    Actually convincing people that DRM is worse than their nifty new consumer products is a difficult problem. Arguments about pubic domain and (academic) fair use don't have much traction among consumers. And the "boiling the frog", "road to fascism" arguments honestly come off as over-the-top and kooky, even if they are plausible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:19AM (#15603749)
    As I understand it, DRM is when a device encrypts your info against your will.

    I don't trust the market to sort this out by itself (DVDs, cell phones, TiVo, Blu-Ray, etc). It is possible for a legislative solution to handle this without interfering with voluntary encryption (but that is a danger we should be weary of). The only other option I see is to live with it, and I for one, don't wanna.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:23AM (#15603757)
    In the same way that I am sympathetic to the animal rights movement yet think PETA is counterproductive, I am sympathetic to the Open Source movement yet think Stallman is, generally, overshrill for his/our own good. The idea that you have to match extremity with extremity in politics finds no home with me.

    I don't think you know what extreme is.

    Communism as a solution to the problems of proprietary software would be extreme, but that isn't even close to what Stallman promotes.

    Stallman's position is to the proprietary software industry as the expectation of being able to open the hood of your car is to the automobile industry. No reasonable person would argue that the hoods of all cars should be welded shut and only openable by the manufacturer, so why is it extreme for Stallman to make the same argument about software?
  • BINGO. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:26AM (#15603765)
    "the goal is to liberate everyone in cyberspace."

    He's right. Now what?

    Time to start Anti DRM webpages that top search engines when you search HD-DVD, Blue Ray, Vista, and Itunes?

    What does one do?

    Hang around best buys all day and inform people?

    Obviously the media, by that i mean CNN, Fox News, SONY, etc will not be getting the word out. Its in their interest that this goes through.

    The people dont really have a voice anymore. The government is worthless in the matter.

    Do we stick to slashdot.org and rant to like minded people? Who will see it? Who will care?

    Frankly we LOST this years ago when corporations took interest in the internet and the computer boom took foot.

    We're all 30+ now. The kids today all talk like we used too when we were the minority computer geeks.

    Frankly its a world where we do not have a voice. Did the war protests have any effect on stopping the war? Did you see how many people showed up to the protests world wide? MILLIONS.

    We dont have those numbers... and even if we did... it wouldnt make a dam difference.

    Showing up to protests, writing people, writing articles... ranting on slashdot... DOES NOTHING.

    The law trickles down... not up.

    There isnt much anyone can do in todays world. We should get used to it.I know we wont, and we'll tell everyone about how much DRM sucks and they'll say "Well that sucks" and then we'll all buy the products despite our beleifs.

    Its the way it goes.

    The only real alternative is criminal. Support the hackers... and you're a criminal... Frankly thats the only real protest option left. The brilliant minds that liberate software, DVD, music... must go on.

    Let the media giants push hard, and the coders have to push back harder.

    Protesting, and writing your congressman is worthless. They do not care about you. That is the simple truth. They pass laws written by lobbiests paid for by the media giants. They have access and we the people do not.

    Revolutions come from wars... not silly get togethers on the capital lawn.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:32AM (#15603779)
    Wow. Pre-emptively demonizing those who might dare disagree with the great RMS. I'm sure all those people won't post now!

    I think you've illustrated the RMS cult of personality far better than you realize. Keep that mind closed! It's much safer that way!

    You are way over-stretching your example. Anyone who has been on slashdot very long has heard all the complaints about RMS, by now its just a litany of repitition - nobody has come up with anything new to complain about RMS for long, long time.

    So the guy posts first and says, "yeah, yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before and most of the arguments against RMS break down as either A, B or C." That doesn't mean he's close minded, it means he's tired of hearing the same well refuted drivel over and over again.

    Anyone who wants to criticize RMS should take that as a declaration that they need to do better than they have in the past, that same tired old specious arguments aren't worth the effort to type them in.

    By the way, your "cult of personality" bit - that's one of the referenced specious arguments that nobody cares about.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:39AM (#15603800)
    Unfortunately, their website needs a major overhaul. They need to have a BIG FREAKING LINK right at the top that explains just what the hell they are talking about. We all know what it is over here, but the general public doesn't have a clue.

    Ever try explaining free software to someone by saying "its free as in liberty not free as in beer" -- they just look at you with a big "what the fuck?" expression on their face. Same thing happens when you say that DRM is "defective by design" - all you get is a big "HUH?"

    You can't just drop a link to the DBD website in any old non-DRM aware forum and expect people to click it and "get it" -- yet that's exactly the role the website should play. You want to join up some DBD protest somewhere? Great, but why is that the first damn thing on the site? No one is going to sign up until they know just what it is they are protesting.
  • by jbn-o ( 555068 ) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:39AM (#15603801) Homepage

    Then when you get around to reading the transcript of the interview or listening to it, you should be pleased to learn that Stallman is not with the Open Source movement. He takes pains to tell people that his movement, the Free Software movement, is older than the Open Source movement and pursues a different philosophy [fsf.org]. Stallman doesn't speak for the Open Source movement.

    In this interview he points out one of the differences between the two movements:

    Now, this is an interesting example of the difference between Free Software and Open Source. Some people promote what they call "Open Source DRM". Now, recall the difference in fundamental values between Free Software and Open Source. In Free Software, our values are freedom and community. We want to be part of a community of free people. Whereas, in Open Source, they talk about making powerful, reliable software and they promote a development model. Now, for us, the question of how a program is developed is a secondary issue. I mean, if some models work better than others, fine -- use them. But that's not what's really important to Free Software, to people who value -- who support the Free Software movement and value freedom.

    So, there are people who say that they could apply that development model to developing software designed to restrict us. And maybe it's true; maybe if people study and share and collaborate in developing software designed to take away our freedom, it might become more powerful and reliable in taking away our freedom. But that's a bad thing. That's evil. It's -- in spirit, it's similar to collaborative development of a virus. If something is evil, we don't want it to be done well. We want it to be done as badly as possible.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:48AM (#15603827)
    Michelangelo was paid for his work. Painters and artisans are paid for their garments and paintings. Shakespeare was paid, he was part owner of the theatre company. ...nobody gets paid when you download.

    What is the problem here? They GOT PAID, they earned a living and in many cases a better than average living.

    If today artists and other creators were to get paid in the same way those people in your examples got paid, then who cares if nobody gets paid when you download? That's like saying - the guys on the car manufacturing line got paid for every car they built, but everytime someone takes a trip in one of those cars nobody gets paid.
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:52AM (#15603839) Homepage Journal

    Since none of his ideas even remotely make any real world sense, why is he even publicized?

    RMS [wikipedia.org] is publicized because he initiated the Free Software movement. The GNU software license, which he and Eben Moglen [wikipedia.org] created, has been used in some software projects you may have heard of: the Linux kernel, CVS, GNU Emacs, MySQL, and literally thousands of others.

    More open source projects are developed under the GPL than under any other license, and companies like Red Hat, IBM, and others have built business units or entire buinesses around GNU-licensed software. When is the last time you saw IBM act out of naive idealism?

    A lot of people in the open source world don't agree with everything RMS says, but he's incredibly smart, and people respect his ideas enough to pay attention to what he says. Get out from under the bridge and grapple with his ideas, instead of trolling.

  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:53AM (#15603844)
    People don't use the software because the GPL is so rigid. If we used Perl's Artistic License instead of the GPL we'd finally have progress. Who cares if others change your software? It's at least being used and improving the world.

    That quote shows you completely do not understand the GPL. People can charge for my GPLed software if they wish. Nothing in the license stops them. What they can't do is take it and make software from it without releasing their own code. In other words, it keeps the code open. Taking the code and making a proprietary branch doesn't improve the world. IT just continues the cycle of proprietary shit used to fuck over consumers. The GPL does improve the world- it forces offshoots to be GPLed as well, so people can use the code to improve their lives and the lives of others.
  • by DrMorris ( 156226 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:55AM (#15603854)
    I don't get it. Why do you think that people who chose the GPL are "control freaks"? What about the people chosing proprietary licenses? For me the point is to chose a free license. By chosing a license approved by the DFSG/OSI and releasing the sourcecode by uploading it to the net you already lost control, namely over distribution, wether this software's licensed under the BSD or the GNU GP license.

    What makes the GNU GPL the GNU GPL is its requirement to republish the changes. This surely is a restriction for the particular person/organisation using or changing a piece of software. But it should be seen as a protection for the whole community (that is: everybody who is interested in that software); it makes sure that if someone enhances the software _all_ benefit from the changes.

    Some claim that the GNU GPL discourages organisations to touch software licensed under it and that the BSD like licenses are "friendlier". As we talk about free software the important thing is how much code gets contributed back to the original project. I haven't seen any statistics (please post links if you know of such) but I would guess that the contribution ratio is about the same with both licenses: some "change encouraged" organisations using some BSD licensed software _may_ contribute back, but often do not. With the GNU GPL, far less organisations touch the code, but those who do (and distribute anything derivative) _have to_ contribute back. So I guess it's more or less the same. The GNU GPL has the whole manhood as a focus whereas BSD like licenses focus on the individual.
  • by Subacultcha ( 921910 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:01AM (#15603869)
    I was thinking don't buy it

    In general, I'm ambivilant to this topic. I tend to think there's extremists at both sides. I like my Tivo, and my mp3s, but I also feel people gotta be paid for their work.

    However, when I see this response, I think--Are you kidding? The only way people against DRM are going to change anything is by making a stink about it. Saying "Don't buy it" is about as productive as vegitarians boycotting McDonald's because they serve meat. If you're not the target market, your opinion doesn't matter.

    If only the anti-DRM crowd stopped buying the products, it would be a statistical glitch on balance sheet. It's not going to make an impression when most consumers are unaware of the DRM issue.

    The Anti-DRM campaign has to make itself heard, while at the same time not coming off as shrill and fringe like PETA does.
  • by zelzax ( 895104 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:14AM (#15603895) Journal

    What is also dangerous is people thinking that the government should act against DRM. Seriously, that is just as bad as DRM. It is going to come back to bite people in the ass when those anti-DRM laws start restricting how you are allowed to encrypt your own data. If I create data, I want to be able to encrypt it in any way I choose... just because you find it annoying that it takes 10 seconds to run your itunes music through a utility to convert it to mp3, doesn't mean you have the right to restrict me from encrypting my data however I want.

    That kind of thinking is wrong on so many levels...

    Encrypting files for personal use has almost nothing to do with DRM. If an RIAA exec wants to encrypt his music, good for him, but he has no business encrypting music I PAID FOR. If I've bought the music, no one has any right to restrict how/where/when I use it, especially if it's well within my fair use rights.

    And yes, government has every right to restrict DRM. It's not about regulating files encrypted for personal use, it's regulating business transactions, something that governments have legitimately long been involved in. One party in the business transaction is being very deceptive and insidious about what it is selling.

    Essentially, consumers expect certain rights when they purchase things. When I buy a car, the car manufacturer has no right to restrict things like where I take the car, whether I can sell the car, and whether I put Chevron or Exxon gasoline in it. When they buy music, they expect that they own the music, and can play it on any device they own, and put it on any playlist or mixtape they want, and maybe even sell the music to someone else when they're done with it, or at least archive the music in an easily accessible format so they won't ever have to repurchase it. All in the full quality they purchased it in too, not downsampled or recompressed to a different lossy format.

    No DRM I've seen yet gives consumers all these rights, or even close, hence the need for governments to get involved.

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:27AM (#15603927)
    The extremists founded the US government. Read up on Samuel Adams as the best example, he was a propagandist that, among other things, helped organize the Boston Tea Party and generally rally people around the idea of revolution through his 1-sided newspaper. He was as extreme as you can get.

    Like it or not, but moderates stir no one to action exactly because they have no defining ideological principles. It is simply a relative marker of the "middle ground." Extremist serve their purpose by marking the extreme (the edge).

    A moderate today is different from a moderate yesterday but sets of principles are more firm. If there were no Richard Stallman setting up his extreme, the current leftist (or what have you) extreme would be moved closer to your middle, and you'd be the extremist, unless of course, if you don't stand for anything, then your stand would be significantly pushed to closer to the status quo and away from what Stallman stands for.

    In fact, being a moderate is much of an deceit on people to appear "reasonable" when it really is just a way not to ruffle anybodies feathers by having a stance. Their opinions change with the tide.

    If moderates were the flag bearers (which by definition they are the exact opposite of), would there be slavery in our country still? What about woman's suffrage? Or the civil rights movement?

    None of these were started by moderates nor advocated by moderates until the "extremists" stood up and then moved the "middle position" away from the status quo.

    My point is, people like RMS are exactly what's needed because the whiny people in the middle don't want to obstruct the flow and, in the absense of two extremes but having only one to follow, would tend to sway toward that group.
  • by arose ( 644256 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:36AM (#15603950)
    DRM is simply encryption, and encryption isn't bad.
    False, encryption restricts access to information, DRM restricts (or at least tries to) what can be done with information after they have access to it. DRM often uses encryption, but if it were just encryption we wouldn't have another name for it.
  • by LuYu ( 519260 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:46AM (#15603972) Homepage Journal

    As is typical with Stallman, his proposal predates the current debate by about a decade.
    -- Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture

    The accusation of fanaticism has been levelled at Stallman for more than two decades now, and it is still absurd. It is typical that whenever Stallman sees a new threat to freedom, one that most or nearly all other people in society do not see, he his called names and people say he is hurting Free Software. However, Free Software, and Open Source software for that matter, would have died long ago if Stallman had not been defending it. In fact, if Stallman had listened to his critics in the past, Microsoft would still be the only choice, unless it could be imagined that a broken rewrite of MacOS could have posed a serious challenge to Microsoft -- which really is hard to imagine.

    I think the main reason for this freqent and unfair criticism is the outlook of those trapped in the Emerald City, those with green glasses locked to their faces forcing them to everywhere see green. They are the same ones who think the "free" in Free Software means "free of charge", which is indeed a limited view of the word free. For those who live in a world where there is only green, that seems to be the only freedom.

    This could not be farther from the truth, of course. The freedom to speak freely and the freedom to think for oneself and the freedom to learn what one wants are certainly beyond pricing. There is a reason that selling oneself into slavery cannot be allowed in a Free Society. There is also a reason that the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America protects one's right to free speech. Rights are priceless. Their value is unlimited. Rights should not be curtailed based on the whinings of some crooked entertainment industry executives.

    DRM directly threatens the right to free speech. It will allow third parties to control which computers communicate with which computers. It will allow authorization of all speech by third parties. It will control whether you can or cannot alter or copy any file on your computer. Hardware implementation of this will mean that the cost to free oneself of this will be the cost of fabrication of chips to alter the code for this. In fact, it would be possible to eliminate Free Software altogether with hardware DRM. This will leave 1984 style control of free speech in the hands of the likes of Microsoft, Intel, and a handful of other companies that will be able to basically control all of your communication with the outside world.

    Richard Stallman has seen this future, and he understands the implications. Does it matter if Free Software is in the majority of computers and devices if we do not have the freedom to modify it? What is the difference between Linux and Microsoft when someone can tell you what you can and cannot do with your computer, with your software? If DRM wins, everybody, all six billion of us, loses.

    I will leave this with another quote from a much darker book, nothing less than 1984 (Book I, Chapter IV):

    Comrade Ogilvy, unimagined an hour ago, was now a fact. It struck him [Winston Smith] as curious that you could create dead men but not living ones. Comrade Ogilvy, who had never existed in the present, now existed in the past, and when once the act of forgery was forgotten, he would exist just as authentically, and upon the same evidence, as Charlemagne or Julius Caesar.

    DRM makes Winston Smith's job convenient.

  • by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:56AM (#15603990) Journal
    Ya know, the people who used to speak for the Open Source movement (ESR, John Parens, etc)
    Hey Bruce [perens.com], did you get a brother in The Movement, or something?
  • Wasting his breath (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BestNicksRTaken ( 582194 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:13AM (#15604032)
    He should put the banner down and get on with some programming.

    We all know Sony, Microsoft, and to some degree Apple are the spawn of Satan and their products are second-rate, but they're huge and already have a massive fanbase and product line that is firmly entrenched thanks to their marketing wallets.

    Everyone hates Windows, still 3/4 the world uses it, they're keyboards aren't bad though.

    Everyone knows the s2n ratio on the iPod is worse than anything from Creative, iRiver or Archos, you can't get your iTunes back off of it or play them on anything else, the screens scratch like a mofo and like everything Apple you'll have to replace it next year, but still it's the #1 portable audio player of choice.

    Everyone knows the PS3 will have a poor Cell implementation and be overpriced, it's still going to sell in the millions.
  • by LuYu ( 519260 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:16AM (#15604035) Homepage Journal

    If freedom is a hippie issue, then you are saying that the Founding Fathers of the United States, the Authors of the United States Constitution, and the Soldiers that fought the Revolutionary War to give us a legacy of freedom from the English Crown were also hippies, right? Remember, without freedom, the United States is just another English Colony, a possession of Her Majesty. Are all people who do not believe that hippies?

  • by LuYu ( 519260 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:32AM (#15604075) Homepage Journal

    Granted, Linux has evolved leaps and bounds from the 1.1 kernel I started with, but it hasn't dramatically changed the world like everyone hoped.

    When you put down the LSD, you will realize that Linux, and for that matter Free Software, has changed the world immensely. Do you call Google a small change? Google has changed the way people think, work, do research, and in many ways the way people communicate with eachother. Google would have been impossible without Linux. The existence of Free Software and Linux have influenced government policies worldwide and made people rethink what services a government should provide its citizens. Those are just two examples of an immense sea of examples. Linux has changed the world.

    So, the changes are not the ones you wanted. Get over it. It has made the lives of many people much better. No, it is not as convenient and easy as it could be, but being free of the Blue Screen of Death and constant reboots and viruses is actually nice for some people. Save your myopia for other people as narrow minded as yourself.

  • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:44AM (#15604091)
    Stallman isn't extreme. He has a goal, (computers/devices always doing what the user wants, guaranteed via Free Software) and works towards those goals in quite productive ways. In just 22 years, he has created a movement that has so much momentum that proprietary software seems doomed.

    I like to think that this will eventually become something larger than just Free Software. I want to see society working together for the benefit of society, rather than individual profit.
  • There's a difference though in the way cars and software are both made. However, I feel the original analogy is correct. If I want to know how mozilla works, I can look at the source and try to figure it out. Since I'm a coder, I have an idea of what does what and it makes sense to me. The same way a mechanic can look inside a car's hood and find out how a car works.
  • Re:Education? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BoldAndBusted ( 679561 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:53AM (#15604107) Homepage
    As long as the ignorant masses stay complacent and docile, and as long as consumers obsesquiently gobble up DRM-laced products, there is no chance that free software will win.

    I sympathize with you, but does Free Software have to win, or just merely have and maintain a strong niche to be successful? If one thinks about it that way, perhaps it has already "won". Just having a strong Free Sofware movement around is enough to influence purveyors of other software ecosystems to look over their shoulders to see what is happening in Free Software, and offers influence on every other approach. Right now, I personally can have an environment where I can minimize the use of proprietary softwares to a small component of my personal life. That doesn't count work, or when I pick up the phone, or use the electrical grid, etc., but it is a start.
  • by janzen ( 932060 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:54AM (#15604108)
    George Bernard Shaw made this same point very eloquently: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
  • by javilon ( 99157 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:59AM (#15604118) Homepage
    "No reasonable person would argue that the hoods of all cars should be welded shut and only openable by the manufacturer"

    Right now, you are allowed to sell a car where the hood is welded shut, but police wouldn't stop people from opening it.
    On the other hand, with DRM if you manage to open it up, the RIAA will call the police, and at the expense of taxpayers, police will come and take you to jail.
    I don't have anything against DRM except the police enforcement. If they can come up with a technological measure that stops me from making a copy of digital information, so be it. The less of my worries will be music or movies. But if they don't, I don't know why the goverment has to protect them and not me.
  • by Asic Eng ( 193332 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @05:06AM (#15604128)
    The seller depends on the market, not on the individual consumer. The purchasing power of an individual buyer is puny compared to the market. The only way small buyers can influence a big seller is if a big group of them act in the same way. If most people are not even aware of DRM issues, it's unlikely that they'd base purchasing decisions on that. Similarly it's not a given that any seller automatically understands what the buyers want - there is a reason why many companies put a lot of money into market research. Which is never perfect, of course.

    This can be changed by educating buyers and by informing sellers. Then again that would be activism and can certainly not be achieved by keeping your mouth shut.

    The whole gist of this "don't buy it" argument seems to be that the market will regulate it all, and automatically produce whatever you really want. Or - if it fails to do that - that you didn't really want it badly enough. This is a useful point of view for big corporations, but it doesn't really have much to do with the operation of free markets. It's quite common in free markets for participants to form alliances in order to influence the market in their interest. Sellers agree on standards, cooperate on manufacturing etc. Buyers can form alliances, too - e.g. by agreeing to make purchasing decisions based on certain criteria. It's a sensible thing to do.

  • by Steeltoe ( 98226 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @05:13AM (#15604141) Homepage
    DRM restricts what you can access, how to access, functions and copying features of data (information).

    Traditionally, data is just data, but with DRM, some read-only meta-data will mandate what you can and can't do with that data. Then freedom is lost.

    Using legislation to disallow DRM could have impact on security methods like: filesystem permissions, serial codes for products, SELinux, encrypted filesystems, trusted computing, etc. Some of these are very liberating and gives the user freedom to express personal ideas without being compromised, serial-codes are a practical way to sell shareware / cheap software, while trusted computing takes away freedom for the end-user, just like DRM. The point is that legislation should be clear in its goal, and not mention products or special technology, and not be too general as to wipe out the good stuff. Legislators just can't understand the whole scope, and new useful inventions should not be stopped by over-legislation.

    Using legislations to mandate DRM puts DRM-technology at an unfair advantage in the market place. What is DRM anyways, and why should some method of it be legislated? It makes the law unreasonable complex, and quickly outdated.

    Legislation should be used for national security, not for securing big companies even more profits, villifying the citizens or forcing people into an outdated bussiness-model. Not war on terrorism, that war should be abolished due to global security mind you..

    What effort is there to make the law simpler, more rational and understandable? This is the direction we should be going.

    People need to get a clue, and we're the people / technicians who know about this and should educate as many as possible of what we know.
  • by Jim_Callahan ( 831353 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @05:17AM (#15604149)
    Moderates stir no one to action because they have reasonable expectations of what people will do, and get them to do it no problem, no stirring necessary. Likewise, they aren't catalysts for revolution because they are competent enough to change the system without breaking it.

    With moderates left in charge of things, slavery would definitely be gone by now (because there isn't any reason to keep it around at this point), and Civil rights probably wouldn't have been an issue because the effort to deal with the new political conditions following abolition would have followed a path of greater compromise. As for women's sufferage, I dunno about that one, as the moderate position on the subject at the time was complete apathy rather than a real balanced stance. (Contrast to the moderate position on slavery during the time it existed, which was 'well, this isn't really completely ethically sound, but we need the institution to keep going or our economy will get buggered'.)

    The cold war was essentially won by a moderate position ("well, they're our enemies, but we don't necessarily need to attack them, nor do we need to just perform a holding action... let's scare them into breaking their own economy") and the midaeval islamic empire was kept cohesive through use of a moderate stance (sure, allah is the one god and all, but we don't necessarily need to persecute the other religions, we'll just make it economically advantageous to me muslim). Also, every time a country has undergone a successful revolution, the 'successful' part has come from the new regime's moderation in the determination of policy.

    Basically, I think you're giving the middle path a bit of a shorter shrift than it deserves. It's damn useful, and, while it doesn't necessarily make sudden changes to the world, it does make lasting ones (in fact, comparing your average peaceful policy change to your average revolution, I'd say much more lasting than the extremist-caused changes).
  • by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @05:40AM (#15604208)
    As you've described it, most Americans are socialists. There are very few Americans who would strip all socialist programs from our country (examples: public schooling, fire departments, depts of transportation, farm subsidies, libraries, anti-pollution laws, car safety laws, etc).

    Unfortunately, the far right has been able to control the language, and make us think that the word "socialist" means "communist" or "fascist". That leaves your average, moderately socialist, American with a sense of morality and reason who knows that capitalism must be tempered with socialism, yet can only speak intelligently about capitalism, while any discourse in favor of socialism is hampered and limited to emotional pleas because the rational words are off-limits or misrepresented.

    The death knell for any public debate of a socially beneficial program is the question, "but isn't that really socialism?" The honest answer ends the debate right there. The only political acceptable answer is, "no, because..." followed by an attempt to hide the fact that it is socialism, which puts the progressive and liberal proponent at an obvious rhetorical disadvantage. That's why you have no difficulty finding people who will say and believe silly things regarding how DRM is necessary to be able to produce television shows, or how private industry should replace NASA today, when private industry can barely place two people into a short, sub-orbital trip to the closest reaches of space.

    What really needs to be made known to every American is that socialism is not a bad thing. It is a necessary part of the Western world. Capitalism is also necessary. It's not an either-or choice. Capitalism for a fluid economy and personal freedom, Socialism to keep Capitalism viable, and promote a healthy society.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 26, 2006 @06:17AM (#15604300)
    The sad thing is that you read the same words as we do and yet interpret them so very differently.

    It's only now that DRM and patents and DMCA are wreaking true havoc that people are *really* beginning to appreciate the whole magnitude and value of what RMS has been fighting for all these years.

    Far from being an outsider, he is now seen as being the ethical heart of us all, even those in the Open Software community who at one point sought to divorce themselves from the ethical issues. The dangers of non-free software are now all too apparent to everyone.

    The fact that you still don't see it is just a matter of statistics. Some never will.
  • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @06:41AM (#15604347)
    Have you ever been to one of his speeches? He's completely sane. His methods are what enable his ideals to become a reality.

    You need to understand that although we both know about Free Software and DRM, most people haven't ever heard of these things. Activists don't mind people thinking that they are crazy as long as they are able to get people interested/curious enough to research what they are protesting for themselves.

    If people see a protest outside an Apple store, they will naturally think the people involved are nutcases, but they will also wonder what all the fuss is about. If they go home and type "DRM" into Google or Wikipedia, then the protest was a complete success.
  • Go RMS! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dushkin ( 965522 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @06:54AM (#15604378) Homepage
    Exactly the stuff I wanted to hear from him!

    DRM is aweful, and really is NOT going to work. RMS knows that, and so do most people with at least a tiny amount of knowledge about how digital media is transferred.

    Back then in the days of the Tape Recorders, you could have copied your CDs and LPs to a tape and listen to them on the road - much like iPods and ripping CDs. It's been going like that for AGES. The music industry thought that tapes were the end, they were easy to copy and one person could have made hundreds of copies for his friends, and they did the same with their friends and so on.

    Apparently the world didn't end then, and music didn't end then.

    Then there was Napster, and actually after they closed down Napster I started buying LESS CDs. Why? I was exposed to less music, and didn't actually feel the need to buy anything. Basically, it was a lose-lose situation. The artists didn't get any more famous, Napster got shut down, and I didn't get the music I wanted to and couldn't "try before I buy".

    The music industry is a horrible thing. Trying to abuse information in order to make money out of it. Basically "give me $X and I'll tell you Y" - it's just data on the CD after all.

    Just like software, music should be free. And just about anything else should.
  • by MaGGuN ( 630724 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @07:06AM (#15604404)

    Right now, you are allowed to sell a car where the hood is welded shut, but police wouldn't stop people from opening it.

    If opening the hood possibly enabled you to create as many copies of the car as you see fit, im pretty sure it would be illegal, or they would want it to be illegal. Digital media is not comparable to cars.

  • by NickFortune ( 613926 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @07:35AM (#15604458) Homepage Journal
    ... why not just talk to people?

    Look: the population of Planet Earth have all characteristics required to qualify as a chaotic system - which is to say there are too many too consider all of them individually, and that their behaviour at any given time depends both on their inputs and their state.

    This has a couple of interesting implications when it comers to activism. One is that macro-scale attempts at control (which in this context would be corporate and government manipulations) are unlikely to work out as intended. The other is that the butterfly effect, sensitive dependence on initial conditions, applies. Small inputs can make a tremendous difference, and the apparently uninterested non-techie you tell about this may, in fact, go home and mull it over, and then decide to tell someone else. Who tells someone else, who tells someone else... The point being that control over the media channels is no longer enough to surpress a campaign. The story leaks out at grassroots level. Which is why so many corporations and politicians are pouring money into "astroturfing" campaigns. They recognise the power of this approach, even if the general public to not.

    But I don't think any astroturfing operation can compete with the real thing - no one can afford to buy that many opinions. Whereas we don't have to. You've heard of the "many eyes" principle for free software? Well this is the "many mouths" principle. With enough people talking, we can own this debate. I propose we do just that.

    So stop taking like a loser, and start spreading the word. We can do this.

  • I believe one day you will be able to copy physical objects, and when that day comes you can say goodbye to any DRM laws that have been passed for digital media, because people just won't stand for having the government prohibiting them from copying whatever they want.
  • by linvir ( 970218 ) * on Monday June 26, 2006 @07:59AM (#15604531)
    there is no effective way to enforce it
    Ever heard of the DMCA?
    Other than, I agree.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:21AM (#15604623)
    DRM is and always will be technically flawed and there is no effective way to enforce it, legal or otherwise. There will always be technical workarounds and there will be a momentum towards those platforms that don't disallow those workarounds.

    Having a theoretically-possible technical workaround is not enough; there needs to be a workaround easy enough for normal people to implement. Between the DMCA and hardware-based Treacherous Computing (i.e. the TPM), it seems eminently possible that the cartels could actually succeed in marginalizing anti-DRM to a small group of technologically-saavy people. And that means, whether we're in that group or not, we all lose.

    I agree, net neutrality and patents are important issues too, but so is DRM!

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:47AM (#15604754)

    Are you talking about his insistence on the use of the phrase "Free Software" instead of "Open Source"? If you are, you should consider the possibility that it's necessary to make that distinction because the terms mean two different things. Even though all Free Software is Open Source, not all Open Source is Free Software. Because Stallman is specifically referring to the ideological aspect of it, he must insist on "Free Software" because "Open Source" is inaccurate.

    Moreover, this distinction is not an idle one, because his opponents' strategy is to try to re-frame the argument in order to ignore the central ideological issue. For example, Microsoft's opposition to OpenDocument is based on tricking Massachusetts' politicians into thinking that it's "OpenXML" format is just as "open" as OpenDocument, even though it's not even slightly as Free. Therefore, the minute Stallman stops insisting on the semantic distinction, he loses. Now do you still object to it?

  • by Tekzel ( 593039 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:09AM (#15604894)
    You are completely missing the point. They don't HAVE to prosecute them all, just some of them. And publicly. The more public the better. It will "scare straight" a lot of the population, and THAT is what they want. They know DRM, by itself, can never be perfect.
  • by init100 ( 915886 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @10:00AM (#15605209)

    Where would we be without a good reference implementation of TCP/IP

    The TCP/IP reference implementation was developed at UC Berkeley, which is a state university, i.e. public funded. I fully understand if non-governmental organizations and individuals release software under the GPL, but tax-funded entities are another matter. I think that tax-funded organizations should license software under the least restrictive license (such as BSD), but then everyone has already payed for the development (tax evaders excluded), so they should be free to use it as they wish, which includes using it in proprietary software.

  • by g2devi ( 898503 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @12:22PM (#15606227)
    > Source code is step-by-step instructions for building a product

    No. I can look at the Linux kernel source code, but I wouldn't have a clue on the thought processes that went into it. There are no specs, blueprints, or design schematics provided with it. There's just code that's assembled for me in a particular configuration that I can modify to my hearts content (if I had the knowledge) or even combine it with other GPL code to create whatever I want. If I didn't have the knowledge, I could hire a consultant other than Linus to do it for me. That's what open source means. There's no vendor lock in.

    Similarly with a car, there are no specs, blueprints, or design schematics provided. There are just parts that are assembled in a particular configuration. I can modify my car to my heart's content and even combine it with other parts. If I wanted to combine my car with a speed boat and a helicopter, I could do it if I had the knowledge, or hire a consultant (other than from the company whom I bought the car from) to do it . That's what open source in the real world means.

    I don't know about you, but I'd never by a car that required me to go to the vendor's dealer to get even the smallest bug fix or modification done to my car. Why on earth should I chose to do the same for the software I use? Open source is not about money, it's about freedom.

  • by M. Baranczak ( 726671 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @12:39PM (#15606381)
    If it never worked in the "War on Drugs", what makes you think it will work in the "War on Piracy"?

    Depends what you mean by 'worked'. If the goal of the War On Drugs was the elimination of certain recreational chemicals, then it has obviously failed. If the goal was to generate billions of $ in public funding for police forces and various auxiliary industries, and to give the police a pretext for going after people who otherwise aren't breaking any laws, then the war has been a resounding success.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong