It is no secret to anyone that Richard Stallman's work is completely ideological now. His contributions to free software have become the promotion of free software. Well, I attended one of your lectures and I must say it was anything but what I expected. For both good and bad. Qualifying such an experience is complicated and I must clarify that these are my personal opinions and represent only my personal view of this matter.
I live in the city that was Stallman's last stop in Mexico. His stay was concentrated in the capital of the country, but both in Tijuana and Puebla we were fortunate to receive one. In my case, the conference was given in the context of National Meeting of Free Software, a congress that included keynote conferences, workshops and other events. The entire event was held at the facilities of the Popular Autonomous University of the State of Puebla, a private institution of higher education.
It was Wednesday morning. Stallman would be in charge of opening the event, his presentation being the first of all. There I took the first surprise of the many that the event reserved for me: only the organizers used free software. I was reluctant to accept the fact that there were so many people attending a conference of the father of free software with machines loading Windows and iPads everywhere. At the conference I could only see one machine running Lubuntu.
I sat in the second row. I have never liked being very far ahead in these types of rooms, but I think it was a good time to make an exception. Despite this, in my position it was a bit difficult to take useful photographs, although this is largely due to the general lack of knowledge of digital cameras that I suffer. Either way, I was there and I wanted to hear what Richard Stallman had to say.
Suddenly appeared. It was like one always imagines it. Red shirt and pants of some strange shade of brown for me. Gave us stickers, which we here call stickers, with motifs from GNU, the FSF and campaigns against DRM. He sold us articles for the benefit of the organization he presides. I bought a small badge, because I didn't like the big ones, to be honest.
At this moment I got the second surprise of the morning. I had always imagined Stallman with a much more aggressive character, but he was a nice person and at times impertinent. Especially with the correction given to the organizer when she made the mistake of calling owner a lo private. And the conference started.
Copyright vs. Community
Abusing my frankness, the talk did not attack points where Stallman's opinion was unknown, although it did show interesting topics such as the Harry Potter boycott or his ideas about the distribution of content. I understood your vision about the separation of works and the licenses that must follow, but I do not agree. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The questions are the typical ones that you would expect at an event like this. And the answers too. So it was something routine, from which I can rescue four questions asked by the public, which I found interesting; without hitting a truly debatable target: 1
- There are things that we still cannot do with free software. What can we do to improve it?
- Freedom requires sacrifices.
- At the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla they force us to use proprietary software. What do we do?
- You have to organize protests. (Here a little debate on what forced them to use, the concept of the cloud and those things)
- He talks about the works, but does not mention the drugs ...
- Why drugs are somewhat different, protected by patents. This cannot be protected, because it is the expression of ideas that can be protected.
- With what system do you think the microtransactions you talk about in voluntary contributions to artists should be done?
- They are not microtransactions, a weight2 its a lot of money. (The questioner mentions bitcoin and says they don't know how it works)
Well, I couldn't keep wanting to ask him something. So I asked him about videogames as a non-practical work and why the art that accompanies them should be released, releasing its sources. It says it is not necessary, but it would be nice. I also asked him about his use of the Creative Commons No Derivatives license for his opinions. He says that sharing a work is fine, but changing something is lying. I can not disagree more.
Here is a small difficulty. Stallman has hearing problems, which he warned us about himself. He constantly asked us to mark the sound of the consonants, to speak slower and louder. To begin with, the level of Spanish he has reached is respectable, managing to hold a conference using only a couple of times the help of someone to translate a term that eluded him in our language. I was quite impressed in that regard and thank you for taking the time to learn decent Spanish.
However, this made communication difficult. Debating like that was not a good idea, especially if it rushed us. Either way, the questions leave us an empty impression. For example: Stallman forgets that if the poor can't make voluntary payments for content, they can't afford a device for it either. I mean, we are talking about poverty. There are still people here who are starving and can't think of buying something like that. It seems to me that this is a fundamental flaw in your argument, although I reserve that it is a summary of a larger idea. The checkout button you mention exists in some way and it's not that it's too successful to say.
The division of the works seems nonsense to me. I explain. Stallman talks about the division between works with practical value, modern art y Reviews. We could put three examples, being free software, a painting and an opinion article; respectively. All three are expressions of culture and for me all three must be liberated.
The CC-ND license is not free. Protecting opinions with it is not free culture. Sharing does not solve things, as it prevents many other uses for it. I precisely took the last keynote address of the event, given by Gunnar wolf; from which I can extract an important idea: Code is a form of creative expression. He speaks of free software as a cultural expression and sees the owner as a historical aberration why he closes the ideas. The first devastating argument in favor of free software, although its magnitude is much better expressed by Wolf in person, than by me, who am just digesting its implications.
Now, using this argument (or as I understand it) software is nothing more than one more expression of culture, free culture specifically. The CC-BY license already protects the moral rights of the author on the work, so if someone took a text of mine where I say that I like sunny days and popsicles; released under a free license as CC-BY (or with a CC-BY-SA; Copyleft; as Richard Stallman's opinions are paradoxically unclassified) I could declare slander if someone modifies it to make it appear that I like rainy days and lollipops.
With the recent conflict with version 4.0 of Creative Commons, a controversy was generated around the disappearance of the NC and ND clauses, simply because the works protected by them cannot be free. (How the license of this blog, Non-Commercial; which could be a free cultural asset in full rights if it wanted). It was my mistake not to ask her position on this, but I think her response was predictable. It goes to distribution Verbatim as he had before. Of course, I advance an answer that could be different and in the best of scenarios, become more flexible. From here my apologies for this, if it is the case.
It was an interesting event. Met Perseus live, took a Ruby workshop with him, learned some Blender, have stickers, and more. I paid 300 pesos for three days and although I did not take all the workshops I wanted3 I feel like it was totally worth it. I can't say that watching Richard Stallman live changed my life, but it was a fun lecture: Who buys me this adorable wildebeest? Who buys it to continue defending their freedom?
- These questions were originally raised by attendees of the event. The answers were given by Richard Stallman. For format reasons and without being able to have a reliable record of these, I stick to the version that was recorded in my memory and in my brief notes. Mr. Stallman, I do not lie or distort your views. This can be easily corroborated in your personal site.
- Mexican pesos (MXN). Of course, we do not consider it a large quantity here; but it is likely to refer to the fractional ability of electronic currencies. Apparently Bitcoin supports up to 8 zeros after the period. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
- I mean, I also had things to do. Getting around this city is complicated with so many repairs.