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Hacker Legal Education

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3 Responses

  1. The constitution was crafted by Stallman the hacker before he met Moglen. Moglen has greatly helped the free software movement, but in a different way.

    Stallman wrote the original GNU GPL in 1989, with legal assistance from Gerry Cohen for the original version and for the relatively small update that became version 2 in 1991. For the more thorough update in 2006 that produced version 3, Stallman got legal assistance from Eben Moglen.

    In terms of “writing the constitution”, the principles were almost entirely Stallman. Moglen’s contributions to version 3 of the GPL were that he reviewed the wording of the licence to integrate improvements based on 16 years of using it, and he translated Stallman’s new additions into legalese.

    That said, anyone who knows the licence knows that I’m not belittling Moglen’s contributions. It’s an immense legal task to write a single licence which has to work in every country around the world, to do things that are outside the intended purposes of copyright law, and to do all this while solving modern problems while using words that will continue to work in the future.

    Moglen also coordinated some large chunks of the consultation process, set up a free software law firm, and is one of the absolute best public speakers on free software.

  2. Thanks for the clarification. That’s a much better explanation than I gave.

  3. Gabriella Coleman says:

    I can’t recommend Chris Kelty’s chapter on the copyleft enough as well. It gives a lovingly detailed history about the controversies that led RMS to fight the law with the law. One of my all time favotite chapters on the history of free software:

    http://twobits.net/discuss/chapter6/20