Richard Stallman Speaking at University of Toronto (Mississauga) on July 5

Here’s the official announcement [update: yes, it’s open to the general public, and free].

Update: here’s a map of UTM — the Kaneff Centre is right in the middle.

World-renowned activist and free software developer Dr. Richard Stallman, founder of the free software movement, will speak on “Copyright vs. Community in the Age of Computer Networks” in Matthews Auditorium, Room 137, Kaneff Center, University of Toronto, Mississauga, 3359 Mississauga Rd. N., on Thursday, July 5th at 5 pm.

The talk, which is being co-sponsored by the department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences and U of T’s Knowledge Media Design Institute, will be non-technical, and members of the general public, along with computer scientists and engineers, are encouraged to attend.

Copyright developed in the age of the printing press, and was designed to fit with the system of centralized copying imposed by the printing press. But the copyright system does not fit well with computer networks, and only draconian punishments can enforce it. The global corporations that profit from copyright are lobbying for draconian punishments, and to increase their copyright powers, while suppressing public access to technology. But if we seriously hope to serve the only legitimate purpose of copyright---to promote progress, for the benefit of the public---then we must make changes in the other direction.

While still a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the fabled ‘golden age of hacking’ in the 1980s, Dr. Stallman foresaw the growing centrality of software to society and culture, and in particular the importance of preserving software users’ rights and freedoms. In 1984, he drafted his now-famous GNU Manifesto, in which he laid out the ideals of ‘free software’ software that the user can freely use, copy, distribute and change - and founded the Free Software Foundation to promote these ideals. His work led to the development of the GNU/Linux system, now in use on tens of millions of computers worldwide. Currently, as our arts and other forms of expression become increasingly digitized, Dr. Stallman is at the forefront of the movement to ensure that our culture itself remains free.

Dr. Stallman is author of the book Free Software/Free Society (GNU Press, 2002), and numerous papers. He has received many honors and awards, including a MacArthur Foundation fellowship (a.k.a. ‘genius award’), the Grace Hopper Award of the Association of Computing Machinery, the Pioneer award of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Betterment. He also has several honorary doctorates.

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