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Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman Paperback – December 30, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441436855
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441436856
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,185,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Stallman is known internationally as the creator of the GNU operating system and cofounder of the Free Software Foundation. In this collection, he provides an accessible guide to the philosophy that inspired his cause. Stallman also takes a critical look at how businesses abuse copyright law and patents as they apply to computer software applications. He explains how these actions damage our society and encroach on our freedoms. Part 1, "The GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation," offers a historical perspective, as well as an introduction, to the philosophy of free software (i.e., free as in "free speech, not free beer"). Part 2, "Copyrights, Copylefts and Patents," explores the legal aspects of free software, laying out the mission of the free software movement and discussing its long-term goals. Part 3, "Creating a Free Society," focuses on the importance of free software in our society and presents helpful examples. Part 4 comprises licenses that developers will find useful in making the programs they create accessible to the widest possible audience, as free software that can be redistributed and changed legally under the terms presented. The text gives more insight into Stallman's thought processes than does Sam Williams's biography, Free As in Freedom, a complementary work that relies more on interviews with Stallman and his associates. This important collection by a software visionary is recommended for larger public and academic libraries. Joe J. Accardi, Harper Coll. Lib., Palatine, IL
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"...this collection presents some of his fervent thoughts about the intersection of ethics, copyright law and computer science." -- Harvard Magazine, Sept-Oct 2002

...this collection presents some of his fervent thoughts about the intersection of ethics, copyright law and computer science. --Harvard Magazine, Sept-Oct 2002

Customer Reviews

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Here in a single book are explained all the major principles of Free software.
Paul Stone
In short, I would undoubtedly recommend Free Software, Free Society to anyone with even a remote interest in computers, the internet, or law.
C Allen
Parts of his essays are a little too philosophical but a fun read nevertheless.
Jahanzeb Farooq

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I bought this book at Hackers on Planet Earth 6, and then after reading it in the morning, had the double benefit of hearing the author as keynote speaker in the afternoon. He is everything the book's contents suggest, and more. The author is one of the original MIT hackers (pick up a used copy of Shirley Turkle's "My Second Self, Computers and the Human Spirit" and/or Steven Levy's "Hacker's" which the author himself recommends.

The author's brilliant bottom line is quite clear throughout the book: software copyright prevents people from improving or sharing the foundation for progress in the digital era.

The author's social-technical innovation, which appears now to be acquiring tsunami force around the world, and is manifested in the Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) movement that is being nurtured by governments worldwide from Brazil to China to Israel to the United Kingdom to Norway, is to modify copyright to a term he credits to another, copyleft, meaning that copyright in the new definition grants ALL permissions EXCEPT the permission to RESTRICT the enhancement and sharing of the software.

The author is also very careful to define the term free as meaning freedom of movement and growth, not free of price. GNU, his invention, removes computational obstacles to competition, and levels the playing field for more important innovations. In his view, the core issue is not about price, but about eliminating restrictions to freedom of sharing and enhancement.

On page 37 he sums up his life's purpose: "Proprietary and secret software is the moral equivalent of runners having a fist fight (during the race)" -- they all lose.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The editor wrote a short forward explaining all the computer concepts the reader will need in order to understand the book. In addition, there are footnotes throughout the book explaining obscure people and computer terms. This way even a sociology major like myself can understand everything.
Stallman talks about important issues that are currently being played out in Washington DC. This book is a great way to help make sense of it all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Stone on March 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the book to read to learn about the roots, the history of the Free Software movement started by Richard Stallman in the early 1980's.
Here in a single book are explained all the major principles of Free software. Also you can find the history of the GNU General Public license or GNU GPL for short. This is the most widely used free software license.

The origin of the GNU operating system and its variant the GNU/Linux operating system is also covered.

The importance of the Free software movement can not be overstated.
It is the Free software movement and its leading organization the Free Software Foundation that inspired other groups that have its origins in it such as the "Open source" movement.
The books explains the effects of copyright laws and patent law on innovation and society.

A must read. I fully recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C Allen on November 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
`Free Software, Free Society', a short, yet poignant book by renowned software freedom activist Richard Stallman demonstrates the importance of free software in society, a movement in which he has actively participated since joining a software-sharing community at MIT in 1971. Since then, Stallman has both advocated the importance and raised awareness of free software, battling copyright and founding clever terms such as "copyleft" and even "free software" itself. His book first describes GNU (Gnu's Not Unix), a free adaptation of the Unix operating system that Stallman created to promote a community of cooperative hackers. He also makes certain to precisely define his terms; Stallman both explains free software is `free as in freedom', not in price, and also distinguishes between the seemingly synonymous words of `free' and `open'. Richard Stallman later introduces the concept of `copyleft' (a method which mandates that software obtained from the public domain be passed along for others to further copy or change it) and analyzes problems and misinterpretations of copyright, explaining, for example, how copyright is not a natural right guaranteed by the Constitution, but rather a government-imposed monopoly. Stallman ends the book with a collection of miscellaneous, but relevant topics, such as `words to avoid' and GNU licensing.

Overall, I found Free Software, Free Society both interesting and informative. As one might expect, Richard Stallman does not write like most authors. Instead of employing a `style that sells' (i.e. "decorating" the book with irrelevant information or references in order to appeal to the largest audience possible), Stallman writes what he believes, regardless of whether it fits public opinion.
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