re-public: re.imagining democracy - Richard Stallman - The free software movement Could you explain free software activism?
Richard Stallman: First I’d better explain what free software means. Free software means software that respects the user’s freedom. There are four essential freedoms that the user of any software ought to have:
Freedom 0: the freedom to run the program, as you wish.
Freedom 1: the freedom to study the program’s source code and then change it so that it does what you wish.
Freedom 2: the freedom to distribute copies of the program when you wish.
Freedom 3: the freedom to distribute copies of our modified versions, when you wish.
Freedom 2 is the freedom to help your neighbor; freedom 3 is the freedom to contribute to your community. Both of them include both private distribution and publication–whichever you wish. Both include gratis distribution as well as sale of copies, whichever you wish
So what is free software activism? It is the struggle to establish and maintain these freedoms. This is a struggle because most computer users do not have these freedoms. They were taken away back in the 1970s, when a tiny fraction of society used computers; when use of computers spread widely in the 90s, what spread was the use of user-subjugating proprietary software.