Free software 'not anti-capitalist'

Eben Moglen, the legal counsel of the FSF, claims that free software is 'an immense pile of golden eggs' — and companies need to take care of the geese that lay them
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor

Free software lawyer Eben Moglen has denied that free software is incompatible with capitalism, a claim that has been made by various companies, including Microsoft and SCO.

"The idea that we are anti-capitalist is a stupid idea. Free software is not anti-capitalist. Capitalism now makes a great deal of money out of free software and it voluntarily pays us money to make, improve and lawyer for it," said Moglen, in an interview with ZDNet UK published on Wednesday.

Moglen, who is the Free Software Foundation's legal counsel, also argued that intellectual-property laws are not a central tenet of capitalism.

"Some people decided to make knowledge into property. That wasn't capitalism speaking; that was a greedy scam. There wasn't anything normatively acceptable about it. It contravened the freedom of speech and ideas," he said.

As well as the FSF, Moglen also works with a number of other free software projects through the Software Freedom Law Center, which he helped launch last year.

This organisation received $4.25m (£2.4m) funding from the Open Source Development Labs for its first two years, and Moglen is confident that it will be able to get additional funding when this runs out.

"My view is that we will continue to represent an unbeatable deal. Free software is an immense pile of golden eggs, and now companies have suddenly realised that they need people to take care of the geese that lay the golden eggs," he said.

The full interview with Eben Moglen, where he discusses his work with the Law Center, his plans for expansion, and his philosophy on software freedom, can be read here.

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