Stallman live, live and in full color

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.

The context

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.

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 conflict

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. I mean, I also had things to do. Getting around this city is complicated with so many repairs.

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  1.   anti said

    Two little things of nothing. Footnotes don't seem to work. But they still look good. And the link of the photos does not appear, which is here

    1.    anti said

      And that didn't work either. That's how I leave it, enough of fighting for today 😛

      1.    Manual of the Source said

        The references thing seems to be a problem with the theme, to see if elav or Gaara get to it. As for the link, I checked the version history and you seem to have missed including it. If you want to paste it in a comment and add it myself or the first admin to see it. 😛

        1.    elav said

          Well, yes, we have to put ourselves for it, there are many things that have arisen that we did not realize when we launched the new squad. 🙁

          1.    anti said

            It's a minor thing, anyway. I really like this topic 😀

  2.   NotFromBrooklyn said

    The photos are not visible.

  3.   Windousian said

    I agree with Stallman. If you allow derivative works of your articles, they can modify them enough to distort your message. The word misrepresent was not invented yesterday.

    The most correct way to quote someone's phrases is to transcribe the exact words.

    We cannot equate texts with software. If you want to do a work similar to Stallman's, you have the right to do so. The texts are not closed, they are read and are a source of inspiration for others. There are millions of novels that are rehash of worn out ideas, and no one with two fingers will accuse the authors of plagiarism or violating a license. Stallman tries to avoid being attributed words that he has not written. More than defending the text, it aims to defend your signature.

    1.    anti said

      Well, misrepresentation is always going to be a problem; But a free license already solves the problem of moral rights. I am not sure, but ND does not allow the translation of an article without the explicit consent of the author and I am given an all but appropriate restriction. Referral is an important part of culture.

      1.    Windousian said

        Personal opinion about "X" thing is not very relevant. Stallman tries to translate his important writings into other languages. You can write a text in your language that deals with something that Stallman has written without fear of violating a license. What you have to make clear is that it is your interpretation of what Stallman writes, not what he has actually written. You cannot translate a text and sign it with the name of another without their consent. Anyway, I can't imagine Stallman denouncing a poor devil who wants to spread his message in another language.

        1.    diazepam said

          "You cannot translate a text and sign it with the name of another without their consent"

          The BY of the Creative Commons takes care of that and that is enough.

          1.    Windousian said

            I don't think you understand what he meant. You cannot translate Doe's text and sign it with Doe's name without his consent. I would not be amused if someone translates my writing in a bad way by putting my name at the end. It would give the impression that I wrote the translation. And if it says "translation of the text of Doe by Mengano", at least it is clear that it is not mine but the original text is distorted. It is advisable to always consult with the original author.

          2.    diazepam said

            But that is precisely what the BY clause is in charge of, which is in all CC licenses.

            Attribution - You must acknowledge the credits of the work in the way specified by the author or licensor (but not in a way that suggests you have their endorsement or that they support your use of your work).

          3.    Windousian said

            The BY clause forces you to cite the original author. I can translate the text completely wrong and cite the original author (I do not violate the BY) without asking for permission. That is why the DN is necessary, it is a clause that requires the distribution of the text without changes. If someone wants to translate or adapt a text with DN, they must ask the original author for permission.

            @diazepan, the attribution only implies putting the name of the original author. You cannot use their work to credit yourself, nor can you imply that you have their support… But if you translate the work "literally", adding the name of the author and the original CC-BY license, you do not breach anything (that I know of). According to paragraph 3b of the license you only have to indicate that it is a translation. If it is mistranslated on purpose, to harm the author, you violate paragraph 4c but do not mention anything about "fortuitous" errors. I do not know if you handle other information that I do not know.

            There are web pages with translated CC-BY texts (well attributed) with comments from readers that confuse the original author with the translator. The CC-BY license is perfect for wikis and other impersonal texts (in my opinion).

        2.    anti said

          Now the ND clause limits this. It is common for people to ask permission to modify works with CC-BY or SA, but this is done as a courtesy nothing more. Doing it out of obligation complicates things, as the difficulty of contacting appears; say for the death of the author.
          Wolf mentions something interesting and that is that ND and NC had expiration time, and when they expired they became free culture.
          In that case, if an author of an ND text dies, we only wait a few years and can work on their derivations.
          I use CC-BY whenever I can and nothing else. As in this text or in my personal blog, but always with CC-BY, in order to guarantee the remix and others if one day I write or do an important work.

          1.    Windousian said

            That someone write a work and spread it freely inspires me with confidence. In these times it is not so difficult to contact the author. If you write a manual on KDE 4 SC and need a translated text from John Doe, waiting for him to die would not be a very good idea, because the manual will eventually become obsolete. An expired DN does not fix much. I think it is worth explaining your project to the author and working together on the adaptation if possible. The ND does not make the author an enemy of free culture.

            If you do a "remix" of many authors creating something really new (not a cut and paste), putting the references would be enough. Taking ideas from numerous novels and melding them into a "remix" story is not considered a derivative work (you won't be called a plagiarist). You can write about the same thing in a thousand ways. The important thing about CC-BY is that the works are read and distributed freely without violating copyright, the derivatives are very secondary and only relevant to the authors.

  4.   elav said

    Excellent article, it seems to come from the hands of a journalist 😀

  5.   Daniel Rojas said

    Good article. I witnessed a talk by Stallman last year (or the previous one? I don't remember well), when he came to Argentina to FLISOL and I was also surprised by the level of Spanish he speaks.
    I also expected him to be tougher in character, but the opposite turned out. Regarding the wildebeest, I understand that he does it in all the talks he goes to, in the talk I went to, the auction easily reached 120U $ D haha.

    Regards! 😀

    1.    anti said

      Here it reached 550 MXN. I suppose that the change is like about 40 USD, which makes me think that we haggle a lot around here 😀

  6.   Fernando said

    I also attended the ENLI and according to the questions you mentioned I think there was who you are (I hope I am not wrong), something that caused me a lot of grace was when he told you to speak more slowly and you did it but very slowly. You are quite right there were many teams with proprietary software, but hopefully after the event there will be more with free software. Very good review 🙂

    1.    anti said

      Well, I did that out of courtesy. I think he may have offended someone, but I really wanted him to understand my question. Either way, it was a good event. And I was wearing gray. Maybe that will give you enough clues. 😛

  7.   Hyuuga_Neji said

    I don't remember the part about selling us the wildebeest stickers, but I do remember that he did the thing of dressing up as Santo with a Cylinder of the old HDD placed on his head as if it were his areola. The photos that were shot with us in the ICU I don't know where they got because I only saw a few and to make matters worse, only a few students came out.

    1.    anti said

      Here Saint Ignucius did not appear to us. I do not know why.

  8.   Digital_CHE said

    I saw Richard Stallman at the First, Only and Last Convention he held in Viedma, RioNegro, Argentina ...
    And I said last, because this guy, to Argentina DOES NOT COME BACK, because of the SIBIOS issue ...
    I filmed most of the conference ... I said almost all of it, because my camera's battery ran out ...
    As a person, he is a simple guy. He doesn't have the air of a divo ...
    Now, as a disseminator of Free Software, it is something Extremist: It does not tolerate that Private Software coexists peacefully with Free Software.