Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, it is often suggested one thing of free as in free speech, not as in free beer (mmmmmm free beer).
Wikipedia defines it best: Gratis versus Libre is the distinction between ‘zero price’ (gratis) and ‘freedom’ (libre). This distinction is often important in dealing with laws concerning the use of information, such as copyright and patents. The terms are often used in the free software and open source communities, as well as the broader free culture movement, to categorize computer programs according to the licenses and legal restrictions that cover them. Both this expression and the term gratis are used to distinguish freeware (gratis software) from free software.
Support software freedom — download and start using Linux today.
Farewell to fair use? No way!
We support the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s position:
In summary, the Copyright Office should heed the advice of the library associations,
the cryptographers, the non-proprietary software developers, academics, and the civil
liberties groups and construe the DMCA narrowly to provide adequate protections for the
interests (other than the copyright industry) represented in the copyright bargain.
Therefore, all classes of works must be exempt from the general circumvention prohibition
when the purpose for the circumvention is to engage in a lawful fair use of a work.
The copyright holder’s right of access must also be limited by a First Access Rule guided
by the wisdom of copyright’s traditional First Sale Rule. Copyright’s design in a digital
world must continue to balance the competing interests between authors, publishers, and
the pubic fairly and in light of copyright’s stated objectives to promote the progress
of arts and useful sciences.
– Robin D. Gross, Esq.
Case and Point
On July 17, 2001, the FBI arrested Dmitry Sklyarov, a Russian Ph.D. student for an alleged violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). He delivered a speech in a Las Vegas hotel regarding Adobe eBooks entitled “eBook Security: Theory and Practice”.
Dmitry helped create the Advanced eBook Processor (AEBPR) software for his Russian employer Elcomsoft. The application bypassed Adobe eBooks security only if you had previously purchased the eBook. Furthermore, it allowed the purchaser to backup their eBook as well as read the eBook on a platform other than Windows. When Dmitry gave a speech about this software in Las Vegas (July 17, 2001), Adobe had him arrested. He was charged with distributing a product designed to circumvent copyright protection measures. This signaled the farewell to fair us for many of us.
We encourage you to educate yourself about the DMCA.
A Community Relationship, Not a Customer Relationship
Other operating systems are the products of single vendors. Linux, on the other hand, is openly developed, and this technology is shared among vendors. This means you become part of a community rather than a customer of a single manufacturer. Also, the supplier community easily can adjust to the needs of various user communities rather than spouting a “one size fits all” philosophy.
This means you can select a Linux vendor that appears to best address your needs and feel confident that you could switch vendors at a later time without losing your investment — both in terms of costs and learning.
Fighting Global Warming
With the state of the political pot on global warming still on simmer, you and I need to take action to reduce our carbon emissions. We geeks must put our minds to solving this problem by doing what we do with a fraction of the energy. The smart money is not on never going anywhere or doing anything, but rather on doing everything we do with a fraction of the energy. For instance, why not use the 20-Watt compact-flourescent lightbulb rather than the 100-Watt one? While the up-front investment is more, you save buckets of money over the long term. The EPA says you’ll save $30 in energy costs over the life of a $3 compact-florescent. Do you need a Wall St. analyst to tell you that a 900% return on investment is worthwhile?
So, you’ve changed your lightbulbs, you say. What about my computer? Recently we stumbled upon a way for each of us to make a difference – the Climate Savers Computing Web site.
Climate Savers is a consortium of firms in the computing industry who are attempting to develop and market computing tools that have a lighter impact on the environment. Here are a few of the key members:
- Sun Microsystems
- Pacific Gas & Electric
The site offers individuals and businesses tools to make smart decisions about the products they buy, including a catalog of earth-friendly products and information about purchasing decisions, such as how much energy and money you’ll save over time with Energy Star devices.
You can also make a pledge to make a difference by using the existing power management on your PC and purchasing energy-efficient computers in the future. Sure, the pledge is a bit hokey, but it’s a good educational tool, we believe.
Please inform yourself about the environmental impacts of the computing you do.