Eben Moglen

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Eben Moglen = Cyber-rights lawyer and author of the DotCommunist Manifesto.



"Eben Moglen earned his PhD in History and law degree at Yale University during what he sometimes calls his "long, dark period" in New Haven. He began working as a professional computer programmer in 1973, at the age of fourteen. Before and during law school, from 1979-1984, he was a designer and developer of advanced computer programming languages (VSAPL, APL2, Pascal) at IBM's Santa Teresa Laboratory and Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

After law school he was a law clerk to Judge Edward Weinfeld of the United States District Court in New York City and to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He has taught at Columbia Law School--and has held visiting appointments at Harvard University, Tel-Aviv University and the University of Virginia--since 1987. From 1991-1994 he represented Philip R. Zimmerman, the author of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) in connection with a potential criminal prosecution by the United States Government.

Since 1993 he has served without fee as General Counsel of the Free Software Foundation, and has represented numerous clients in the free software world. In 2003 he was given the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award for efforts on behalf of freedom in the electronic society." (http://mirrors.ibiblio.org/pub/mirrors/speakers/moglen/)

2. NYT:

"Not many law professors have Mr. Moglen’s credentials as lawyer and geek, or, for that matter, his record as an early advocate for what looked like very long shots.

Growing up on the West Side of Manhattan, he began fooling around with computers as a boy. In 1973, at age 14, he was employed writing programs for the Scientific Time Sharing Corporation. At 26, he was a young lawyer, clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall. Later, he got a Ph.D. in history from Yale. He was also the lawyer for the Free Software Foundation, headed by Richard M. Stallman, which aggressively — and successfully — protected the ability of computer scientists, hackers and hobbyists to build software that was not tied up by copyright, licensing and patents." (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/nyregion/16about.html)

Why he is important

"While for many the free and open source software approach is simply the right way to do things, the model could not have developed without legal standing to back up that conviction. As general counsel to the Free Software Foundation, Eben Moglen has provided that standing.

A professor of law and legal history at Columbia Law School and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center, Moglen's role in legitimising the open source model cannot be overlooked, particularly as a counterpoint to some of the more religiously driven open source advocacy.

"It is of course a revolution, it's a friendly revolution. The revolution was an idea about politics and society, as well as technology," he told Red Hat's recent user summit, speaking as he does in a deliberate manner that suggests he is carefully choosing each individual word to avoid any potential confusion (the sort of approach you would expect from someone used to drafting and translating contracts and licences)." (http://www.cbronline.com/article_cbr.asp?guid=20E5F34B-5D51-4215-97B6-44181E083C43)

More Information

  1. See the webcast with Eben Moglen on the Dotcommunist Manifesto
  2. Freedom Box and Freedom Box Foundation