Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU operating system ( ) and a pioneer in the free software movement, will present a lecture, “Copyright vs. Community in the Age of Computer Networks,” at West Virginia University Feb. 17. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is at 7 p.m. in Room 113 of the Mineral Resources Building on WVU’s Evansdale Campus. It is sponsored by the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and jointly presented by the WVU Free Software Group and Association for Computing Machinery chapter.

Stallman developed the GNU operating system, a free software system. The GNU/Linux system is used on millions of computers today. Stallman has received the ACM Grace Hopper Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer award and the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Betterment, as well as several honorary doctorates.

“Richard Stallman is a giant in the history of software,” said Tim Menzies, professor of computer science and electrical engineering in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at WVU. “Hacker extraordinaire, his compiler tools, his editing tools, and his (in)famous viral GNU public license are the engine underneath modern software practices. His vision, tools and ardent advocacy of different software practices, enabled the free software movement.”

In describing his lecture topic, Stallman said, “Copyright developed in the age of the printing press, and was designed to fit with the system of centralized copying imposed by the printing press. But the copyright system does not fit well with computer networks, and only draconian punishments can enforce it.

“The global corporations that profit from copyright are lobbying for draconian punishments, and to increase their copyright powers, while suppressing public access to technology. But if we seriously hope to serve the only legitimate purpose of copyright – to promote progress, for the benefit of the public – then we must make changes in the other direction.”

For more information, contact:

Andrew Butcher (ACM President),, (304) 777-9123

Tim Bielawa (FSG President),
(304) 685-8389

See the event website at



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