[Marxism] Talk 2006-04-22 in London: "FREE SOFTWARE: DOT.COMMUNISM?"

Socialist Party of Great Britain spgb at worldsocialism.org
Sat Apr 15 19:48:48 MDT 2006


The Central London branch of the Socialist Party of Great Britain will
be holding a public meeting in London.

A poster/flyer for the event is available at
<http://www.worldsocialism.org/posters/20060416-freesoftware.pdf>.

Date    :  Saturday, 22 April 2006 at 15:00
Topic   :  FREE SOFTWARE: DOT.COMMUNISM...?
Speaker :  Tristan Miller
Location:  SPGB Head Office, 52 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7UN
           Nearest tube: Clapham North
Abstract:

Digital information technology contributes to the world by making it
easier to copy and modify information.  However, not everyone would
like it to be easier.

The legal system of copyright and patents -- so-called "intellectual
property" -- gives computer programs "owners", most of whom try to
withhold software's benefits from the rest of the public.  They do this
by using legal and technological measures to make it difficult or
impossible for people to copy software or to use or alter it for their
own purposes.

However, a small but growing community of computer users and programmers
are now promoting a different software licensing scheme.  Under this
system, everyone has the right to use, copy, study, modify, and
redistribute computer programs without restriction.  Such software is
said to be "free", not because it can be obtained without charge, but
because people are at liberty to use the software as they see fit.

In the past twenty years there has been an explosion of communal free
software development. Today, free software programs such as GNU/Linux
run much of the Internet's infrastructure, and are beginning to
seriously threaten Microsoft's monopoly on the desktop.

Some observers have described free software as "communism".  Many
developers and users of free software reject outright such political
linkages, arguing that free software is simply a new capitalistic
business model.  However, others actively embrace free software (and
its extensions to literature and other media) as a tool for
revolutionary social change.

In this talk, we will present the development of copyright law in its
historical context, give a general introduction to free software and
the benefits it holds for ordinary computer users, and examine the
revolutionary implications of the free software movement from a
socialist perspective.

About the speaker: Tristan Miller is a research scientist in the field
of computer science and digital information management.  He has been an
active developer of free software since 1999.

-- 
============= Socialist Party of Great Britain ============
Mailing address   : 52 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7UN
Telephone         : +44 20 7622 3811
Website           : http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/
Head office e-mail: spgb at worldsocialism.org
General enquiries : enquiries at worldsocialism.org





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