Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Richard Stallman: "The user must monitor the program, not the reverse"

Richard Stallman is one of the "fathers" of free software, programs whose source code is public and editable. Activist for a radical and comprehensive reform of copyright, he discusses the changing world of law, technology and computing. In some areas, free software that you are defending seems to have won the battle in the area of servers, for example, the share is overwhelming.

These victories are not permanent. The largest sector for people's freedom is the personal computer and mobile phone. I have no mobile phone: these objects are monitoring. It's inevitable, but I do not want Big Brother knows where I am. The software of these mini-computers should be free, but no model avoids proprietary software [or owner, that is to say non-free].

Even Android phones use a proprietary system for radio signals. In many models, this program also controls the microphone and can be transformed into listening system. The program can also update itself. While in my laptop, even the BIOS [the most fundamental level software of a computer] is free.

Yet the public is now quite sensitive to questions of respect for privacy. RIM, the manufacturer of the BlackBerry, made a marketing element, and has even launched a new campaign under the slogan "and your personal information remains personal" ... But this is wrong! Several countries have demanded the right to access private data of users in India, for example.

And to continue to sell its handsets, RIM yields, as was the case initially in the UAE. How can users be sure of when not being heard? The only solution is to have total control over his phone and thus get rid of proprietary software. You have been very critical of the practices of large software companies like Microsoft, yet your current discourse is much more focused on the service providers, like Google or Facebook.

That's another problem. A service is not a program many people try to apply the concepts of free software or proprietary services, but it is a mistake. To determine whether a service is dangerous for my privacy or my data, one must ask two questions: what service can abuse data, registered or not? And he takes control of my computer? Users often ask the first but not the second.

We must reject the fashionable concept of "software as a service": the question is not whether the programs used by the server are free or not. We can give you access to the source code of all programs used by a service, but that does not mean that its use is good for you. If in any case, the user loses control of his computer by being denied the right to make copies for example, is a bad thing for him.

You are also very critical of technological protection measures (DRM), these tools used to prevent copying or unauthorized use of files. In recent years, began to disappear DRM MP3s sold online: is it that the battle is won? Not at all, because the DRM back in another form, with Spotify and other broadcast streaming music [streaming].

These systems use client programs privateurs, with missing feature, however trivial can make a backup of files. Publishers want these services we think this is not a natural feature, but it is their choice to restrict the freedom of the user. He said that "there is no need to copy the music when it is available everywhere and anytime", but it is not: Spotify can change the conditions of use whenever he wants , and has shown in reducing the duration of free play.

How is it that Spotify requires the digital handcuffs? Through a program privateur, whose users have no control. It's the only way to impose this restriction on free software, users have control of the program, they can change it. In a program privateur is the software that the user control.

Privateur program is a yoke. But Spotify and Deezer also popularized the idea that you could pay a fee to access all the music, a concept described as unrealistic when it was proposed by advocates of global patronage or global license like you. Personally, I do not want to pay music publishers, and I think these companies, who have achet├ędes draconian laws and unjust trial and made hundreds of millions of dollars against young people, must be destroyed.

The musicians, however, must be supported, but I do not think the concept of pay is fair. Compensation guess we'd have a debt for having listened to a song, what is wrong. But if we want the artists create, it is useful to subsidize them, I want to support what artists do, not companies.

I refuse to give up my right to share music. This freedom must be respected. Supporting artists can take different forms: grants, for example, funded or not by a special tax, but this does not represent a significant budget. In this system, how to distribute the money fairly? I propose that the distribution is done according to the success of the works, but not linear, not to give too much to big stars: in this system, most of the money go to supporting artists who are gaining medium, and the very biggest stars earn more, but within reasonable proportions.

The other system would be that the voluntary payment: if every breeder had a button to send a small sum to the artists, many would send. If it's easy and cheap, why not do it? The poorest will not do it, but it does not matter. There are enough people who earn a decent living for this to work.

In its conclusions, the G8 called Deauville yet governments to better protect rights holders. The beneficiaries are corporations, and their power is intolerable: it must be stopped. It's an excuse to maintain an unjust system and obsolete. Rather than protect them, they should be punished for attacks against our freedoms which they are responsible! The system of copyright was established for the printing technology in order to promote the arts.

This object remains valid, but the means to do so no longer are. Today the owners have rights that are reminiscent of the old regime, where we bought the offices and privileges. The United Kingdom has initiated a process of reform of its copyright. A commission has proposed several recommendations, ranging towards increasing the rights of citizens.

I do not know if the government will follow these recommendations. The six proposals that were made - five for copyright, a patent for - go in the right direction, but the commission was based on a mistaken view: it used the concept of intellectual property, which must be rejected because it mixes things that have nothing to do, copyright and patents, for example.

The commission has avoided this trap and considered each act independently and arrived at intelligent recommendations even if they do not go far enough. The problem is that the British government's philosophy is to support businesses first, before its citizens. One suggestion is to not extend patents to computer, but the EU is trying to do with the unitary European patent.

However, the court of appeal for decisions of the European Patent Office will be ... the European Patent Office, who has become a power without limits. This opens the door to software patents as the European Commission wants to impose.

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