Media Advisory: Controversial Free-Software Activist to Speak at UB

Release Date: February 22, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation and one of the most controversial figures in the history of the Internet, will discuss "Copyright and Community in the Age of Computer Networks" on Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. in 112 Norton Hall on the University at Buffalo's North Campus.

The lecture, presented by UB's Association for Computing Machinery Club, will focus on the consequences the Internet may bring to copyright law.

The speech will discuss how copyright law was heavily influenced by the economics of the printing press, and what changes would be more appropriate in the age of the Internet.

Stallman has long been involved with the fields of computer programming and political activism. He is a recognized activist in the free software movement, which defines free software as a fundamental right, like free speech.

In 1984, Stallman launched the GNU Project, eventually developing the GNU operating system (a recursive acronym for "GNU is Not Unix"), a free Unix-compatible software package. When combined with the Linux "kernel" (the focal part of an operating system) written by Linus Torvalds, it became the operating system used by millions and known by many simply as "Linux." Stallman prefers the term "GNU/Linux," which he feels better maintains the bond between the operating system and the philosophy of the free software movement.

Stallman has also popularized the concept of "copyleft," a play on the word "copyright" and a method by which authors give free license to alter, reproduce and distribute their work as long as alterations maintain that same freedom. Stallman's version of copyleft is the GNU General Public License, which he first wrote in 1989, which allows the same rights for software, particularly the GNU/ Linux operating system.

Stallman is considered by many to be one of the most stubbornly principled computer programmers around. He insists that he will only use computers that run completely on free software, saying "Freedom is my priority. I've campaigned for freedom since 1983, and I am not going to surrender that freedom for the sake of a more convenient computer."

Media arrangements: Ellen Goldbaum in University Communications at 645-4605 and Brian Borncamp onsite.

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605
Twitter: @UBmednews