The Right to Read

The Right to Read

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The Right to Read by Richard M. Stallman

Published:

1996

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The Right to Read

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Copyright 1996 Richard Stallman. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

Book Excerpt

asingly set up to give absentee operators control over the people actually using the computer system.

The SPA, which actually stands for Software Publisher's Association, is not today an official police force. Unofficially, it acts like one. It invites people to inform on their coworkers and friends; like the Clinton Administration, it advocates a policy of collective responsibility whereby computer owners must actively enforce copyright or be punished.

The SPA is currently threatening small Internet service providers, demanding they permit the SPA to monitor all users. Most ISPs surrender when threatened, because they cannot afford to fight back in court. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1 Oct 96, D3.) At least one ISP, Community ConneXion in Oakland CA, refused the demand and was actually sued. The SPA is said to have dropped this suit recently, but they are sure to continue the campaign in various other ways.

The university security policies described above are not imaginary. For example, a

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