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Lecture: Free software
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At a glance:

Status:tentative — if this lecture interests you, please contact TFN
Admits:members only
Cost:no charge
Where:TFN office
When:Tuesday, 15/Jan/2013, 19:30 - 21:00
Format:single lecture
Preparation:none required
Web page:TBA


People who use computers and who care about having better-written and more affordable software.  People who have heard of the GNU copyleft and who want more detail in a digestible format.

The lecture may also be interesting to software authors who are thinking about the license terms under which to publish their software, but this lecture is not tuned to their specific needs.


Iain Calder has been a fan, promoter, and occasional contributor to free software for 2 decades, following the evolution of the licenses over time.  He uses free software almost exclusively.


This lecture will touch on what software is available on which operating systems.  It will focus mainly on the history of free software, on the people who defined the different meanings of "free", and on the definitions which they bequeathed to us.  The lecture will review the available FOSS (Free & Open Source Software) licenses, explain in detail the freedoms provided by the GNU copyleft, and contrast its provisions with those of other FOSS licenses.


The lecture's web page has examples of licenses, which you can view in advance, but the course assumes no prior knowledge of this material.

About free software:

"Free" software has been defined differently by different people at different times.  The GNU copyleft is a license under which software is distributed.  It is one of the oldest, most comprehensive, and most widely used free licenses.  It defines "free" in a particular way.  Everything licensed under the GNU copyleft is called "free software".

The GNU copyleft, unlike licenses used by Microsoft, Apple, and others, guarantees, to the user of the licensed software, several freedoms which commercial software providers typically deny to their users.  For example, users of Abiword have the right to modify it and to share it.  By contrast, users of Microsoft Word are not allowed to give copies to their friends.  Copying Word is illegal, and Microsoft sues or fines people who do.

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