Back to the future…Free Software

By admin, May 30, 2005 4:28 am

Eben Moglen is convinced the software industry is returning to being about a free exchange of ideas and code. I came across this article at Internet News , below are excerpts from the same.

Eben Moglen. the lawyer for the Free Software Foundation said during a keynote at the LinuxWorld Summit that the IT world will return to a time before large businesses co-opted freely licensable software for proprietary products.

When he coded software back in 1973, the idea was "write once, run everywhere," he said. In 2005, that mantra might seem far-fetched at a time when thousands of Microsoft sales professionals license loads of software to consumers and businesses.

But Moglen said the Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center he chairs are trying to return software to its glory days of shared development.

"We are responding to a lengthy, but temporary period during which software was a proprietary, closed science…" Moglen told the audience. "The consequences of that process produced bad software at high prices. We are reversing that situation. What we do is help people think well and share."

Moglen, who sharply disagrees with software patents because they hinder free use models, advocates the two existing models of free software provisions. One is for permissive use, which allows anyone to use, modify and make a piece of software into any product. BSD licensing is an example of this model.

The other model, which includes the GNU General Public License (GPL) maintained by the Free Software Foundation, permits users to use, modify and make applications with code, with the understanding that it may not be used in proprietary products.

Moglen wound down the keynote discussion at LinuxWorld by lamenting the existence of too many open source licenses, noting that the 55 to 60 in existence only beckon additional legal risks for businesses.
Prashanth RaiSource: Internet NewsTags: Free Software, Linux, Patents.

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