Eben Moglen: "Sharing is how knowledge grows. Owning is how knowledge shrinks… Sharing produces technological innovation and social benefit. Ownership does not."
“We began our activities in changing the law applicable to software with a political purpose in mind. The purpose was to support freedom.
Our belief was, and remains, that only a form of knowledge sharing which permits everyone to learn is safe for political liberty as well as economic innovation.
We don’t consider this to be our invention. We consider this to be Galileo’s invention. We consider the right to tell the truth and to share scientific knowledge without permission and without control by law to be one of the greatest achievements of European civilization.
We regard what we do as in the main line of the activity of the people of Liberty who brought a new Europe into being in 1789. We consider ourselves to be acting on behalf of the very idea of shared knowledge and common self-improvement, which is the achievement of European science.
We reject wholeheartedly that this is either some danger or something to be careful about.
Every government on Earth should now be aware that the largest IT firms in the world, including Microsoft, cannot live or operate without free software. Every government on Earth is aware that no bank, no telecommunications firm, no energy company can exist or operate without free software.
I am disappointed, I must admit, among all the things that make me happy and delighted and honored to be here today, that in 2013 we’re still talking about this. We shouldn’t be. The data are long since in. The changes in the industry have long since been registered.
But whatever may be the case about our persisting licensing structures, the documents on which we do business, which are a tiny bit of this story, the larger principles should no longer be in question: Sharing is how knowledge grows. Owning is how knowledge shrinks.
The GPL has demonstrated that, with respect to computer software, sharing produces technological innovation and social benefit. Ownership does not.
The Principle of Freedom, the free exchange of technological knowledge, and the Rights of Users with respect to technology, are however not trivialities. They are the central institutions of technology that serves Human purposes in the 21st century.
And I will close only with one more statement: Technology which doesn’t serve human purposes in the 21st century, serves inhuman purposes.”
- Eben Moglen