Week 1. Introduction to the course. Human rights in Computing, Four Essential Freedoms. Patents.

1.1. Introduction. Human rights in computing

  • Most important question to judge the program: What does it do for my freedom?
  • Difference between free and proprietary software.
  • Human rights in computing. Overview.


1.2. Free Software and Four Freedoms. Free GNU/Linux distros. Malicious software

  • Software freedom: What is it?
  • Four essentials freedoms:
    1. The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.
    2. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish.
    3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
    4. The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.
  • Why software freedoms are essential.
  • GNU/Linux operating system. History and current status.
  • Freedom as a goal. Free GNU/Linux distributions.
  • Features of malicious software: Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and Surveillance.
  • How proprietary software is promoted by its victims: Skype example.
  • Free software is a matter of liberty, not price.


1.3. Computational idea patents and why they are bad. Real-life examples

  • What is computational idea patent?
  • Why computational idea patents are bad?
    • Patents and copyrights are totally different things.
    • Analogy with music: imagine that there are musical idea patents (e.g., for melody).
    • Writing a program (as well as writing a symphony): combination of new and familiar ideas.
    • Computational idea patents in real life: LZW and natural order recalculation examples.


Additional materials