back to article Software freetards demand axing of ACTA

Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation are calling for the rejection of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) unless key changes to “protect the public's freedom” are made. The self-described software freedom activist and FSF president has made a lengthy posting on the FSF site alongside a petition for …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Given the complete farce that is software patents...

    Seems like a valid argument... Except for those who have a bug up their a*** re Stalman... Like El Regauthor

  2. irish donkey
    Thumb Down

    El Reg totally impartial as usual

    The rules being proposed by ACTA will affect everybody not just the 'freetards'

    And your insistence on linking the two shows who's side you are on and not impartial as all good journo's should be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      And its not just against the 'freetards', its against you and me, the people who buy media.

      The prime example of this is the region lock out. The only reason this is included in DVD, Blue Ray, Playstation, XBox, etc is so they media companies can charge more depending on where you live. And to keep allowing them to rip us off, this law stops us fitting our players with a region free mod chip, or install a DVD player in Linux.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      @Irish donkey

      Hear hear!

  3. Ralph B
    Thumb Down

    Don't dis da Stallman

    Without him there'd be no GNU tools, without which there'd be no Linux or Android OS. Even FreeBSD owes GNU some debt, and therefore Mac OS and iOS too.

    And you don't have to call someone a "freetard" just because they fight against Big Business's attempts to stifle the principle of fair use.

  4. packrat

    iceland, too

    g-20? feeding the world on red tape.

    the gimli glider revisited. Iceland? Wonderful news on freedom of press.

    ACTRA? being nibbled to death by ducks. ANY travel make customs the SOLE judge, jury and collector of anything they deem noteworth.

    death by red tape (worm) should be avoided at all costs.


  5. JV


    Has the reg been hacked?

    I notice this article seems to be written by someone with a lesser grasp of English grammar than most reg writers, has lots of bashing ("Freetards" in the title, seriously?) and an incredibly exaggerated "Freeeeedom"...

    Whats going on?

  6. Quxy
    Thumb Down

    Shame on you, El Reg...

    ...for publishing an article that attempts to tar the critics of ACTA as "freetard" extremists.

    In fact, the widespread criticism against ACTA from mainstream organisations in countries outside of the US and Western Europe has more to do with the way that ACTA and the way it is being developed circumvents legitimate multilateral forums such as WTO and WIPO to avoid global accountability, and seeks confrontation as opposed to cooperation, particularly with developing countries.

    For an issue that's of such importance to the IT community, there's been little in-depth, fair-handed coverage of ACTA here.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


      Please do not believe that all of us at El Reg share the same opinions about, well...anything.

      The opinions of the various authors are as diverse as those of the commenters, I assure you. To counterbalance the article here, I would point you at Michael Geist’s blog.

      Well worth the time spend reading it, and he updates is quite regularly with new, relevant information.

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)


        Since this seems to have caused a disproportionate degree of upset despite the fact that we use it all the time and it isn't necessarily derogatory, I suppose I should point out that I wrote the headline.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


          Oh, well if you wrote the headline...

          ...that's okay then. There's more leniency for the Moderatrix than most.

          1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: @Sarah

            I just don't want a writer copping for any flak over something they didn't do.

        2. Jeremy 8
          Dead Vulture

          Oh really?

          How is calling Free Software luminaries like Richard Stallman, "freetards", not derogatory?

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            @Jeremy 8

            Used properly, it can actually be affectionate. Commenttards is affectionate and not derogatory at all. When talking about "teh piratzeses" I have no problems with the usage of "freetards." Even if you are talking about people who stubbornly only use free (as in beer) software. Using freetard to talk about people who are advocates of, or staunchly only use “free as in beer” damned near anything seems perfectly acceptable and not necessarily derogatory to me.

            I think the line gets a lot greyer when you start talking about "open source advocates or users" as freetards however. It betrays a marked lack of understanding about open source. First of all, open source isn't free. The GPL sure as hell isn’t free. The GPL is a viral licensing straightjacket that exacts its price in controlling derivative works. Other licenses are “free as in beer” for personal use, but not commercial. Some rare few are “free as in speech” and “free as in beer.”

            As open source is not about being “free as in beer” but rather “free as in speech” I think that using the same term (freetards) for both groups of people is the mistake that gets everyone’s Irish up. While membership in the two groups does overlap, the crossover is generally less than most people believe.

            The proper term usage should probably be:

            “Free as in beer” advocates: freetards

            “Free as in speech” advocates; opentards

            That said, appending “tard” to the back of a word doesn’t really make the intent offensive. I am sure that there are some cerebrally less-capable individuals who would take offence to the entering of this term into the common vernacular in this way, and frankly they probably have a damned good point.

            The fact remains that it has been used as a suffix widely and for a long enough time, not only on the internet, but in the real world in non-offensive contexts that it can’t always be taken as some form of attack.

            1. rciafardone

              @Bee. The problem is overuse and/or missuse.

              Most of the time i see freetard assosiated with articles about thing like an idiot getting his machine infected for a file he got via bittorrent (I love bittorrent and never got a bug for it), and while Stallman has fallen from my grace for how he has been going a little overboard these last few years i did find it offensive. Please mrs. Bee, i am not telling you shouldn´t use the term, i find it quite funny and on line with el reg general editorial line, but try to focus it use on what the word (i think) originaly was coinded for, idiots who like to get this for free and get what they deserve for not being modicaly cautious.

              freetard comes from free and retard, am i wrong?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Puerile article, puerile attitude

    The author of this article would have more credibility if he dropped the puerile playground finger-pointing mentality and the accompanying flawed perspective on civil liberties and society.

    Although some people might think it acceptable to have corrupt bureaucracies deciding on what is law - as opposed to people you actually get to vote for maintaining a decent level of accountability under the scrutiny of the electorate - only the most willfully ignorant, corrupt or plain stupid would advocate such treaty-directed lawmaking processes and ridicule those who point out that we should expect better.

    No wonder people try and buy influence rather than use their one puny vote which as often as not counts for nothing, at least under the electoral system enjoyed and celebrated by Britards (although it failed to deliver the red-or-blue majority this time round). I'm sure the author of this piece thinks that's totally acceptable, however, as long as his favourite brand makes more money, but then that pretty much disqualifies him from ridiculing anyone else's position on the matter.

  8. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Does Mr Blincoe have an axe to grind here...?

    He starts by referring to "freetards" (always a nicely unbiased term) and then refers to the "self-described software freedom activist" with the sneering implication that the FSF is just the output of a lone nutcase in his bedroom (who publishes the GPL...)

    Not only that, but there's a huge "Black Helicopters" icon beside the piece just in case Mr Blincoe's implicit message is too subtle for us to understand.

    He also refers to Robert Stallman's "lengthy posting", yet it's shorter than quite a few El Reg articles (was this just an attempt to deter people from actually going and *reading* what it says so they only have Robert Blincoe's take on it?)

    Mr Blincoe seems to want to portray Mr Stallman's output as the rantings of an insignificant individual, for what reason I am not sure, but it is clear that his piece should have included the word *OPINION* in big letters at the top.

  9. The erm undecided

    Make up your mind

    Will the Register please MAKE UP IT'S MIND !!! Do you support Open Source and the community around it or don't you ??? I don't care which it is - that's your choice just decide. I am sick of seeing articles one minute singing it's praise the next slagging them off the way this one does 'Freetards' indeed !!!

    I know articles are submitted by different writers but you are the editors and as such you should excercise some editorial control and provide a constant feel to the site.

    Sort it out soon or I for one won't be back.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Open source was NOT invented by Richard bloody Stallman.

      It was around for *years* before the FSF was even a glint in that self-publicising egotist Stallman's eye.

      Ergo, it is quite possible to support open source without supporting the politics behind FSF-flavoured "Open Source".

      1. Adam Williamson 1


        He never claims to have, and nor does the article, or any of the previous comments. So why do you bring up this particular straw man?

        (RMS would never say _anything_ about 'open source'. He promotes 'free software'. There's a rather significant difference there. Particularly if you're RMS.)

      2. Kristian B

        One word: Copyleft

        Didn't Stallman pretty much pioneer the reciprocal copyleft model of open source that thrives today?

        Before that there was only the non-reciprocal academic model of open source, which can be used in propitiatory software and distributed as compiled binaries - without releasing the source code or giving attribution.

        Half of the networking tools that are part of the Windows operating system are examples of the latter.. just pulled from BSD, ported to windows, and branded as Microsoft.. and no you can't see the source code or use the software without an MS licence. (But you can open the executables in Notepad and see the BSD copyright notices among the binary garbage.)

        So the old model of open source isn't very "open" after all... Hence the need for the term FOSS - to differentiate between the old way and the open and free (FREEDOM) way.

  10. Turtle

    Freedom vs Freedumb

    One can not have an idea of freedom that is more trivial, or that trivializes freedom more completely.

  11. some vaguely opinionated bloke

    Pick a word, any word

    "The ACTA treaty was [something] for the first time in April after more than a year of secret negotiations."

    Or, if you prefer:

    "The ACTA treaty was for the first time [something] in April after more than a year of secret negotiations."

    Or even:

    "The ACTA treaty was for the first time in April [something] after more than a year of secret negotiations."

    I find my enjoyment of this article somewhat diminished through a solitary word. Damn it, I want to know what ACTA was!


    Yes, the one with the ambiguous context and missing , thanks.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Sod the ACTA

    I want something that stops countries from just doing what they want, invading where they want, terrorising who they want, bullying who they want.....

    (I'm looking at YOU, uncle Sam)

    1. Turtle

      How much freer the world was....

      Sure, because we know how much freer the world was, and Iraq was, when Saddam Hussein was in power. And what a crime it was to overthrow him. I guess Iraq's invasions of both Kuwait and Iran (two million dead in the Iran-Iraq War, by the way) were pretty unimportant too. And the fact that the population of Iraq has no political rights at all is a matter to be completely disregarded.

      You DO know about estimates of the death toll among children and infants that was engendered by the Western sanctions against Saddam Hussein, right? (Hint: UNICEF says it caused 500,000 extra deaths of children under five years of age. See . Or, as a spokesman for the Polish government said in response to Western economic sanctions after the suppression of the Solidarity trade union "The government will never starve.")

      As is so typical, Westerners demand freedom for themselves, but are satisfied that non-Westerners live in societies where freedom belongs only to government - and even then, to only the highest levels of the government.

      Your sanctimonious ethical posturing is cheap, and in the end, they make life cheap too.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        On the subject of Iraq Iran and others

        I seem to remember that IRAQ was given weapons, and particularly chemical and biological weapons and encouraged to attack Iran by a certain western country. This is how the west know that Iraq had these weapons in the first war.

        This was done because a certain country wanted to stir things up in Iran and change things.

        Also the allegded genocide in Iraq occured because outside agents convinced an area to enter into a civil war, saying that they would go in and help out once hte war started, but instead they just sat and watched on the sidelines as the army went in a quashed the rebellion.

        I also seem to remember that the Taliban were raised to power by outside western interference, because the west wanted to meddle again.

        As for sanctions from the West, this is the type of meddling that I am talking about, or the fact that one of the first things done after forming (forcing?) a government over the new Iraq was to install US style copyright and DMCA laws. Yes that is really what the country needed at that time.

        Honestly, I think that the people of the world would be better off if the politicians spent their time more productively looking at what the worlds problems are, rather than pandering to those who already have too much wealth and power (RIAA et al.)

      2. Intractable Potsherd


        It is not the business of a country to interfere in the internal affairs of another country without very good reason, like a request for help, or VERY good evidence that there is a risk to the borders of the first country (better than the evidence for WMDs, anyway). The USA's democratic evangelism has made a big difference to the quality of life for many people, rarely for the better (people are still dying prematurely in their thousands every year in Iraq, then add Afghanistan), and then add the civil liberties lost around the world as a result of the meddling that the Bush regime has caused. Freedom has been garnered to "the highest levels of ... government" in countries like the USA and the UK at the expense of the citizens/subjects.

        Nothing good has come from the War on Iraq/Afghanistan/Terror, and it is difficult to see how you can say that it is us that doubt the efficacy of these actions as "making life cheap".

  13. Dazed and Confused

    Add MS to the list

    Many of the tools that Windows relies on would also not exist if it wasn't for the efforts of Richard Stalman.

    MS have taken many pieces of software developed under the BSD license and included them in Windows - like networking.

    The web browser was also initially all written using GNU tools.

    Negotiating this deal in secret is a highly anti democratic move by "western governments" who must be deeply in the pay of the media companies rather than feeling beholden to the their poor voters.

    I'm not in favour of piracy but I am totally opposed to their anti-free trade reasonable use restrictions they feel they can force on their paying customers.

    1. Don Mitchell

      BING - BSD is not GNU

      Stallman has nothing to do with Berkeley UNIX (BSD). He didn't get programmers to start sharing code, he just politcized the practice for his own opportunity.

      It is a myth that the NT networking stack is BSD code. At one point, Microsoft adapted some utilities like ftp and rcp from BSD code. The network code in NT was initially bought from a company called Spider Systems, but Microsoft was not happy with it and began to write a new network stack from scratch. In NT 3.5, the new network stack replaced the Spider Systems code.

      1. Ralph B

        Re: BSD is not GNU

        > Stallman has nothing to do with Berkeley UNIX (BSD).

        You mean apart from the GNU compiler collection being used to build it?

        Clang/LLVM was only able to compile a working FreeBSD kernel since Feb 2009.

      2. JEDIDIAH

        ...the big lie.

        > Stallman has nothing to do with Berkeley UNIX (BSD). He didn't get programmers to start

        > sharing code, he just politcized the practice for his own opportunity.

        This is the kind of nonsense that everyone else seems to be complaining about.

        You're trying to ignore the real facts and replace them with some mythic FUD of your own choosing.

        The GPL was created when contributors complained that their work was being included in commercial products without their consent or notification. It isn't just something that RMS came up with one day as a means to "stick it to the man". It's the result of practical experience and problems developing code under more naieve terms.

        Not everyone wants some robber baron or some competitor to rip their work off and lock them out of the associated improvements. The GPL forces everyone to "play nice" and allows some guy in his basement to be on even footing with Oracle. That arrangement also suits Oracle.

        Very few people have motive to treat someone else's work as their own. You're usually right to be suspicious of them.

        "One way sharing" is very much what Big Content is about these days.

  14. irish donkey

    Sort it out soon or I for one won't be back.

    Comments numbers are well down.

    This place used to be a good laugh but somehow it seems to have lost its way.....................

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      @Irish donkey

      Stick around. El Reg seems to be expanding it's author base. While I have my problems with the opinions expressed by many of them, I think you'd be hard pressed to find many news publications with a more diverse set of opinions on virtually any topic.

      It's impossible to please everyone. There seem to be to responses to this truth, the first to pick a camp and please only them. (Daily mail, Fox news, etc.) The second seems to be to displease everyone equally. For all the faults and flaws of El Reg and all the very human people who work there...

      ...I think displeasing everyone equally is the more honest approach to take. You may get an article (like this one) that angers one set of people (supporters of Stallman,) but a couple of days later a different author will write an article telling us how evil ACTA is, and why it needs to be buried in a shallow grave.

      There are many complaints you can level at El Reg, but organisation bias is not one of them. Individual authors have biases. (Myself included; I’m human, how could I not have some biases about some things?) El Reg as a collective does not.

      It just hangs around and takes the piss out of everyone all the time. Isn’t that better than the “fair and objective” style of shameless biased Fox-news style reporting almost every news organisation on the planet is guilty of?

      That’s not rhetorical…after all the “I’m done with El Reg, GTFO” moaning in this thread I am legitimately curious. It would be nice to know if the things I value in a news organisation are considered “totally out to lunch” by others.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Trevor, if you're out to lunch ...

        ... so am I. Fancy a beer?

        Seriously, I get very depressed with the current trend towards being offended whenever anything that doesn't meet with a person's pov is printed. If a person is interested enough in the topic to read the article, then it makes noe sense to say "I don't like the article, so I'm not reading any more from this site/newspaper/whatever", unless it becomes a rule (I wouldn't read the Daily Mail/Express - ever, because of what they stand for).

        I think EL Reg is a valuable read every day, because there are opinions from different directions. At some point I've disagreed with all the regular authors (some more than others), but I've always learned something.

        In short, Carry on, El Reg!

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          @Intractible Postherd

          If you're ever in Alberta, I'd be delighted to spot you a pint!

  15. Tim Bates


    Going to agree with most of the above posters - this article seems to be written by a person with some vested interest in getting this end user punishment agreement through.

  16. mhenriday

    If opposing ACTA makes one a «freetard»,

    than count me in. Like many others - but obviously not Mr Blincoe and certain other Reg stalwarts - I find it difficult to believe that the raison d'être of the human race is to put still more money and power in the pockets of the bagment behind such organisations as the MPAA and the RIAA. Good on Richard Stallman for his contributions to efforts toward a better way to organise society !...


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    count me in too

    I am freetard then too. Also, I have great respect for Richard Stallman and what he is doing (though I don't always agree) and if this site is going to be one more FSF haters meeting pace, then I am out of here.

  18. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    Me too !

    I'm with the others - you don't have to be a "freetard" to support freedom of expression and appreciate what free (and in speech) software does in terms of forcing competition and innovation. I use both free (and in beer) and paid for software according to what fits my needs best - in fact I've just laid out another wedge on that. And my music and video collection will bear scrutiny as well.

    So I'm no freetard, but I'm with Richard Stallman 100% on this one - I'm not always in agreement with him. This ACTA stuff is mostly about stifling innovation and competition - under the innocuous sounding smokescreen of "anti counterfeiting".

    So please, stop with the "freetard" label where it's not appropriate.

    1. John 211

      I'm a freetard

      What's next - an article on those pesky freetards who use public libraries?

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