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Free Software Free Society by Richard M Stallman

Tsutomu, July 12, 2007

This book is written by the founder of Free Software Foundation which advocates Free Software Movement that is now overshadowed by what is now commonly known as the Open Source Movement. But certainly, Stallman was the pioneer to fight for the freedom of the computer code and we owe greatly for having the talent in programming at the same time the intellect and pure soul to act according to his good will and defend the freedom until now.

This book is the compilation of 18 essential essays written by him and it deals with issues of patent/copyright laws, ethics, and late-20th century history of computers. Two points should suffice the importance of this book in a society within which most people are relying more than ever on personal computers. First, Stallman finds from the perspectives of computer programmer, philosopher, and lawyer that many corporations are (ab)using patents in order to monopolize their software. He then argues that such practices only hinder patents from serving its purpose, which is to promote the development of arts and sciences. Second, which I feel should be stress as it is often neglected, is that computer programs should function like a recipe for cooking where people can freely share, help others with, modify, and redistribute it according to one's circumstances. Stallman thinks only these four freedoms constitute what is called a free software, and that is why he protects them with the 'copyleft' licensing GPL. What strikes me with this latter point is that his incentive and ends to his activism is solely ethical motives and ideals which he thinks would promote the best for the society.
After all, how can a computer which we do not know how it functions ever be trusted? (perhaps such is the case in today's society) We're living in a society when those who cannot be trusted are advocating the 'trusted computing', we must be acquainted with the right knowledge and protect the transparent and communal computing to which Stallman once belonged.

There are some technical jargons but the book does provide brief explanation on important words so I suggest as many people to read this book.
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