Eben Moglen

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Eben Moglen in 2007

Eben Moglen (né le 13 juillet 1959) is a professor of law and history of law at Columbia University, serves pro bono as General Counsel for the Free Software Foundation, and is the Chairman of Software Freedom Law Center.


  • The great moral question of the twenty-first century is this: if all knowledge, all culture, all art, all useful information can be costlessly given to everyone at the same price that it is given to anyone; if everyone can have everything, anywhere, all the time, why is it ever moral to exclude anyone?
    • The DotCommunist Manifesto, UNC-Chapel Hill, Howard W. Odum Institute, November 8, 2001 [1].
  • We are a non-utopian political movement. We are not interested in going nowhere. We are not interested in going to some place we have never been, which we will get to after the revolution because people will be different.
    The crucial operating premise of the Free Software Movement as a revolutionary politic is: Proof of Concept plus Running code. Here. We did it already. It's sort of working. If you take a copy and help us fix it, it could really be something. Here. You want it? Take it. We like it.
    It's Free.
    • Talk at Seattle University, March 13 2009 [2]
  • I think Larry is right to notice that the contradictions are catching the allies up already. It's one of those cases where even before you begin bombing the children, the coalition is falling apart. And that's good news. And I'm very much in favor of it. Some Powell or other is messing up the war.
    • Panel on Public Domain at Duke University Law School, November 10, 2001 [3].
  • The Entertainment Industry on Planet Earth had decided that in order to acquire Layer 7 Data Security, it was necessary to lock up layers 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 so that no technological progress could occur without their permission. This was known by the IT Industry and the Consumer Electronics Industry on the planet to be offensive nonsense, but there was no counterweight to it, and there was no organised consumer dissent sufficient to require them to stand up for technical merit and their own right to run their own businesses without dictation from companies a tenth their size. Not surprisingly, since it is part of the role we play in this political power concentrated in poverty, humility, and sanctity, we brought them to a consensus they were unable to bring themselves to - which is represented in the license by a rule which fundamentally says "If you want to experiment with locking down layer below 7 in the pursuit of data networks inside businesses that keep the business's data at home, you may do so freely, we have no objection - not only do we have no objection to you doing it, we've no objection to your using our parts to do it with. But when you use our parts to build machines which control peoples' daily lives - which provide them with education and culture, build devices which are modifiable by them to the same extent that they're modifiable by you. That's all we want. If you can modify the device after you give it to them, then they must be able to modify the device after you give it to them - that's a price for using our parts. That's a deal which has been accepted.
    • Talk titled The Global Software Industry in Transformation: After GPLv3, Edinburgh, Scotland, June 26, 2007 [4].
  • You could make a good case that the history of social life is about the history of the technology of memory. That social order and control, structure of governance, social cohesion in states or organizations larger than face-to- face society depends on the nature of the technology of memory--both how it works and what it remembers... In short, what societies value is what they memorize, and how they memorize it, and who has access to its memorized form determines the structure of power that the society represents and acts from.
    • Talk titled "Freedom Business" @ The O'Reilly Media MySQL Conference, 2007-04-25 [5].
  • The difference is, this time, we win.

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