EECS CITRIS Distinguished Lecture Series
     
 

Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Hewlett Packard Auditorium, 306 Soda Hall
4:00-5:00 p.m.

Richard Stallman

Founder, GNU Project and MacArthur Fellow

 
 

Copyright vs Community in the Age of Computer Networks

 

Abstract:

   

Copyright developed in the age of the printing press, and was designed to fit with the system of centralized copying imposed by the printing press. But the copyright system does not fit well with computer networks, and only draconian punishments can enforce it.

The global corporations that profit from copyright are lobbying for draconian punishments, and to increase their copyright powers, while suppressing public access to technology. But if we seriously hope to serve the only legitimate purpose of copyright--to promote progress, for the benefit of the public--then we must make changes in the other direction.

    Biography:
   

Richard Stallman is the founder of the GNU Project, launched in 1984 to develop the free operating system GNU (an acronym for "GNU's Not Unix"), and thereby give computer users the freedom that most of them have lost. GNU is free software: everyone is free to copy it and redistribute it, as well as to make changes either large or small.

Today, Linux-based variants of the GNU system, based on the kernel Linux developed by Linus Torvalds, are in widespread use. There are estimated to be some 20 million users of GNU/Linux systems today.

Richard Stallman is the principal author of the GNU Compiler Collection, a portable optimizing compiler which was designed to support diverse architectures and multiple languages. The compiler now supports over 30 different architectures and 7 programming languages. Stallman also wrote the GNU symbolic debugger (GDB), GNU Emacs, and various other GNU programs.

Stallman graduated from Harvard in 1974 with a BA in physics. During his college years, he also worked as a staff hacker at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, learning operating system development by doing it. He wrote the first extensible Emacs text editor there in 1975. In January 1984 he resigned from MIT to start the GNU Project.

Stallman received the Grace Hopper Award for 1991 from the Association for Computing Machinery, for his development of the first Emacs editor. In 1990 he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and in 1996 an honorary doctorate from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. In 1998 he received the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer award along with Linus Torvalds. In 1999 he received the Yuri Rubinski Award. In 2001 he received a second honorary doctorate, from the University of Glasgow, and shared the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Betterment with Torvalds and Ken Sakamura. In 2002 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.