CoverI. Intellectual Property1. James Boyle, “The Why of Intellectual Property”2. James Boyle, “Thomas Jefferson Writes a Letter”II. Free Software3. Richard Stallman, “What is Free Software?”4. Richard Stallman, “The GNU Project”III. Open Source5. Eric Raymond, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”6. Eric Raymond, “Homesteading the Noosphere”IV. Open Content7. David Wiley, “About the Open Publication License”8. David Wiley, “Open Content: The First Decade”V. Defining Free9. Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The Four Freedoms Speech”10. Richard Stallman, “Four Freedoms”11. Erik Moller, “Freedom Defined”12. Bruce Perens, “Debian Free Software Guidelines”VI. Defining Open13. Bruce Perens, “The Open Source Definition”14. David Wiley, “Open Content”15. OKFN, “Open Definition”16. David Wiley, “The Access Compromise and the 5th R”17. David Wiley, “Open Definitions, Specificity, and Avoiding Bright Lines”VII. Open Source Software Licenses18. GNU General Public License19. BSD License20. MIT License21. Apache License22. Comparison of Open Source LicensesVIII. Open Content Licenses23. Creative Commons Licenses24. GNU Free Documentation License25. Open Publication LicenseIX. Open CourseWare26. Charles Vest, “Disturbing the Educational Universe: Universities in the Digital Age — Dinosaurs or Prometheans?”27. History of MIT OCW28. MIT OCW Evaluation Report (2005)29. MIT Reaches OCW Milestone30. David Wiley, “OpenCourseWars”X. Open Educational Resources31. UNESCO Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing32. Cape Town Open Education Declaration33. UNESCO, “2012 Paris OER Declaration”34. Wiley, Bliss, and McEwen, “Open Educational Resources: OER Literature Review”35. Boston Consulting Group, “Open Educational Resources: The OER Ecosystem”XI. Open Textbooks36. Nicole Allen, “Open Textbooks: A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Affordability”37. Frydenberg and Matkin, “Open Textbooks: Why? What? How? When?”XII. Research in Open Education38. OER Research Hub39. Open Education Group40. Marshall Smith, “Ruminations on Research on OER”XIII. The Economics of Open41. Yochai Benkler, “Coases Penguin, or Linux and The Nature of the Firm”42. Yochai Benkler, “Common Wisdom: Peer Production of Educational Materials”43. Yochai Benkler, “‘Sharing Nicely’: On shareable goods and the emergence of sharing as a modality of economic production”XIV. Open Business Models44. Eric Raymond, “The Magic Cauldron”45. OSI, “Open Source Case for Business”46. Various, “A Summer 2014 Conversation on Business Models in Open Education”
An Open Education Reader

Richard Stallman, “What is Free Software?”

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The term open education refers to the application of open source philosophies and practices in the field of education.  The open source movement and many of its philosophies can be traced back to, and grew out of, Richard Stallman’s ideas about free software.  The concepts discussed in this reading are in many ways the germ from which open education would eventually evolve.  Stallman’s explication of the nature of free (“free as in speech” not “free as in beer”) has heavily influenced definitions of open (open as in accessible to reuse and remix, not open as in “free beer”) as it is used in both the open source and open education communities.

Key Points

Free Software is focused on liberty, not price.  Users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change, and improve free software.  Thus, “free software” is a matter of liberty, not price.

An “unfree” program constitutes an instrument of unjust power.  Either the users control the program (free), or the program controls the users (unfree) while the developer controls the program.

There are four essential freedoms of free software:
0.The freedom to run the program as they want to, for any purpose.
1.The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does what you want. Must have access to the source code.
2.The freedom to redistribute – to help your neighbor.
3.The freedom to redistribute copies of modified versions. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

When users don’t control the program, Stallman calls it a “non-free” or “proprietary” program.

Discussion Questions

  1. What about people without the interest/prowess to contribute to free software?  Are they being unjustly acted upon?
  2. Why is a non-free program necessarily “an instrument of unjust power”?
  3. What is inherently “unethical” about non-free software? If someone wants to make money from their efforts in writing software, is that wrong?
  4. Does teaching your children computer skills, such as photo editing, using non-free software create an unhealthy dependency (like giving them tobacco might)?

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