Posted on | October 25, 2007 | 1 Comment
The BBC asked the head of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman to write an article for their “Tech Lab” column, a smorgasboard of insights and brainstorming written by various technology industry leaders.
Stallman wrote an article, the BBC refused to publish it. Stallman insisted that the article contain a copying permission notice, allowing anyone to copy the text (verbatim) directly from the BBC web site. As policy, the BBC does not permit copies of materials that they publish, even if they are not the authors.
Apparently, whoever contacted Richard Stallman knew very little about him. You can not find one line of code or text that he’s produced since the mid 1970′s that is not free to copy (provided that you preserve his copyright notice). What did they expect from the guy who invented “Copyleft” ?
Sometimes, you just have to shake your head and chuckle. The article that is not going to be published on the BBC web site can be found here, which reacts to things previously published in the BBC Tech Lab column.
There’s a bit of buzz flying around the blog ecosystem regarding this rather funny incident. It was not the content of Richard’s article (even though it did criticize the BBC to a degree) that prevented publication, it was simply the fact that Richard wanted permission to copy to remain in the article. I’m not going to comment on the article, I respect Richard Stallman, I just don’t share his views on many topics.
Asking RMS to impose restrictions on creative works is like asking a fire hydrant to run the fifty yard dash – not likely to happen. You would think that BBC producers would spend a bit of time researching those who they ask to contribute, yes?