Free and Open?

Digital Technology & Culture 101

One of the books we saw at the CDSC contained a GNU license. As some folks pointed out, it provided many of the same possibilities for sharing as Creative Commons licenses provide. The GNU license, however, predates Creative Commons and serves as an important reminder of how open access got its start. GNU started as an operating system, based on Unix, but without any Unix code. GNU creator, Richard Stallman, wanted to create a free operating system that would function much like the proprietary Unix system developed by Bell Labs in the 1970s. Stallman began work on GNU—a recursive acronym for GNU Is Not Unix—in 1984 and soon after published a manifesto explaining the philosophy of free software. Basically, Stallman argued we should all have the freedom to use, modify, and redistribute software without having to ask (or pay) for permission.

The GNU license made…

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