Richard Stallman on Piracy

Just got back from a short trip to Belgium. Visited my parents and some old friends, but also went to hear Richard Stallman speak at a Free Software Foundation event in Gent.

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I can’t say I agreed with everything he said, but it was a fantastic experience to see and hear him in person. There’s no doubt the man is a living legend.

One of the many things he touched on in his 2 hour long speech is piracy.

Here is a relevant quote on the subject from the GNU website:

Publishers often refer to copying they don’t approve of as “piracy.” In this way, they imply that it is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnapping and murdering the people on them. Based on such propaganda, they have procured laws in most of the world to forbid copying in most (or sometimes all) circumstances. (They are still pressuring to make these prohibitions more complete.)

If you don’t believe that copying not approved by the publisher is just like kidnapping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word “piracy” to describe it.

And in his speech last week, he mentioned this to illustrate this point (paraphrased):

When people ask me for my opinion on piracy, I tell them I don’t like it, send the coast guard.

When they say they were talking about movie piracy, I respond that I liked the first Pirates of the Caribbean.

Richard Stallman