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Thu, 26 Mar 2009

FSF Award for Projects of Social Benefit

Last weekend, I attended the Free Software Foundation's LibrePlanet 2009 conference.

The first day was a full day of talks from Free Software luminaries including Jeremy Allison of Samba and Evan Podromou of During the talks, the conference IRC chat room was brimming with conversation; between talks, so were the hallways.

The day concluded in an award ceremony. We joked around on IRC:

<paulproteus> Man, I probably didn't get EITHER award.
<gmaxwell> paulproteus, cause I got both! ha!

Richard Stallman happily presented the Award for the Advancement of Free Software to Wietse Venema for writing the Postfix mail server. Then he continued to announce the Award for Projects of Social Benefit, awarded...

" Creative Commons."

Mike Linksvayer kept sitting at his laptop.

"Shouldn't we go get that?" I asked him.

"Yeah," he answered, not moving from his computer.

"Should I come with you?" I asked.

"Yes," he said crisply.

And up we went.

Richard handed Mike the award, and I stood next to Mike as Richard explained to the audience that he wished Creative Commons would talk more about freedom. As Mike accepted the award from the lectern, I did my best to not grin like an absolute idiot. I managed to look somewhat serious in the photo as Mike cropped it; maybe that's the effect of the shadows.

Laroia, Linksvayer, RMS

Asheesh Laroia and Mike Linksvayer of Creative Commons accept the 2008 Free Software Foundation Award for Project of Social Benefit from Richard Stallman. Detail of photo by Matt Hins / CC BY-SA. (Cropped image and this caption by Mike.)

I was immensely pleased. Creative Commons and Free Software, as organizations and as movements, are about lifting unneeded or immoral burdens copyright law levies on people who want to remix, improve, and share. These movements tie together as Free Culture, and they have been a huge part of my life. Moreover, Free Software was the first empowerment movement I could concretely understand.

"Happy hacking!" said Stallman to us as we walked off stage.

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