|Born||July 13, 1959
|Occupation||Professor of Law and Legal history at Columbia University, Director-Counsel and Chairman, Software Freedom Law Center|
Eben Moglen is a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University, and is the founder, Director-Counsel and Chairman of Software Freedom Law Center, whose client list includes numerous pro bono clients, such as the Free Software Foundation.
Moglen started out as a computer programming language designer and then received his bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College in 1980, where he won the Hicks Prize for Literary Criticism. In 1985, he received a master of philosophy in history and a JD from Yale University. He has held visiting appointments at Harvard University, Tel Aviv University and the University of Virginia since 1987.
He was a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall (1986–87 term). He joined the faculty of Columbia Law School in 1987, and was admitted to the New York bar in 1988. He received a Ph.D. in history from Yale University in 1993. Moglen serves as a director of the Public Patent Foundation.
In 2003 he received the EFF Pioneer Award. In February 2005, he founded the Software Freedom Law Center.
Moglen is closely involved with the Free Software Foundation, serving as general counsel since 1994 and board member from 2000 to 2007. As counsel, Moglen was charged with enforcing the GNU General Public License on behalf of the FSF , and later became heavily involved with drafting version 3 of the GPL. On April 23, 2007 he announced in a blog post that he would be stepping down from the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation. Moglen stated that after the GPLv3 Discussion Draft 3 had been released, he wanted to devote more time to writing, teaching, and the Software Freedom Law Center.
Moglen says that free software is a fundamental requirement for a democratic and free society in which we are surrounded by and dependent upon technical devices. Only if controlling these devices is open to all via free software, can we balance power equally.
Moglen's Metaphorical Corollary to Faraday's Law is the idea that the information appearance and flow between the human minds connected via the Internet works like induction. Hence Moglen's phrase "Resist the resistance!" (i.e. remove anything that inhibits the flow of information).
While speaking in New Delhi, India, in 2006, he remarked: "Anything that is worth copying is worth sharing." His other quotes: "The more we give away, the richer we become." And: "Note how even the smallest encounter with Free Software can make a man cheerful about the future of our judge" (said after hearing a judge of the Allahabad high court, India speak on the subject).
Moglen believes the idea of proprietary software is as ludicrous as having "proprietary mathematics" or "proprietary geometry". This would convert the subjects from "something you can learn" into "something you must buy", he has argued. He points out that software is among the "things which can be copied infinitely over and over again, without any further costs".
Moglen has criticized what he calls the "reification of selfishness". He has said, "A world full of computers which you can't understand, can't fix and can't use (because it is controlled by inaccessible proprietary software) is a world controlled by machines."
He has called on lawyers to help the Free Software movement, saying: "Those who want to share their code can make products and share their work without additional legal risks." He urged his legal colleagues, "It's worth giving up a little in order to produce a sounder ecology for all. Think kindly about the idea of sharing."
Moglen has criticized trends which result in "excluding people from knowledge". On the issue of Free Software versus proprietary software, he has argued that "much has been said by the few who stand to lose". Moglen calls for a "sensible respect for both the creators and users" of software code. In general, this concept is a part of what Moglen has termed a "revolution" against the privileged owners of media, distribution channels, and software. On March 13, 2009, in a speech given at Seattle University, Moglen said of the free software movement that, "'When everybody owns the press, then freedom of the press belongs to everybody' seems to be the inevitable inference, and that’s where we are moving, and when the publishers get used to that, they’ll become us, and we’ll become them, and the first amendment will mean: 'Congress shall make no law […] abridging freedom of speech, or of the press […].', not – as they have tended to argue in the course of the 20th century – 'Congress shall make no law infringing the sacred right of the Sulzbergers to be different.'.".
On the subject of Digital Rights Management, Moglen once said, "We also live in a world in which the right to tinker is under some very substantial threat. This is said to be because movie and record companies must eat. I will concede that they must eat. Though, like me, they should eat less."
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