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WIPO's back-off from open software meet – RMS responds

What posse was that? asks FSF president Richard Stallman

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Letters Kieren McCarthy's 7 November article (Open source movement screws up again) inaccurately describes me as an "open source devotee". In fact, I have never supported the open source movement, and I disagree with its basic philosophical outlook. I am a leader in the free software movement.

Since 1983 the free software movement has championed basic freedoms for computer users, including the freedom to study, change and redistribute the software you possess. The open source movement was founded in 1998 by people who liked our free software but rejected our views. That movement cites only practical values, such as making software powerful, reliable, and cheap - the same values Microsoft cites. The two disagree only on how they recommend achieving those values. We of the free software movement disagree fundamentally with their values, but we do have common ground with the open source movement on certain practical programs.

I cannot speak for Mr Nader, but having discussed these issues with him, I think he too agrees more with free software than with open source. He is no "open source devotee" either.

The article further says that the "open source posse came screaming in, guns blazing" and that this was crucial to WIPO's decision.

Certainly this cannot refer to anything I did. I would not join an "open source" posse, and I made no further public statements on the matter after signing the original letter. (I'm willing to work with open source supporters on projects like this one, but my effort is misdirected if it doesn't promote awareness of the free software movement and its philosophy.)

Perhaps the real open source supporters, Perens and Raymond, made further public statements. If McCarthy wants to claim they were foolish, he should show us what they said. The idea that WIPO stood up to pressure from Microsoft and its pet government, only to take offense at some foolish statements from Perens and Raymond, is inherently implausible. Although I do not support their movement, I do not think a journalist should make such accusations against them without some substantiation, some facts to demonstrate their responsibility for the outcome.

Perhaps the reason McCarthy went beyond his facts is visible in the words "the all-too-familiar names", which is how McCarthy introduced all of us. Those words say McCarthy already resented our public stature before this whole affair began. Perhaps he was simply searching for an excuse to criticize.

Sincerely,
Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation (www.fsf.org)
MacArthur Fellow

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