This month marks a pretty significant milestone in the history of the Gnu Public Licence (GPL): 30 years ago Linus Torvalds chose the GPL for the distribution of the recently created Linux kernel — a decision which has had huge consequences for the further development of Free Software.
*NOTE CHANGE OF MEETING URL* Free software is defined by the four user freedoms and for a long time these freedoms have been ensured by Free Software licenses like the GPL. While not perfect these licenses help preserve the four freedoms for the kinds of applications we use on our desktop computers that do not involve other computers. Things start to get a bit more complicated when we start making software available over a network and using such software. Mix in the popularity of the World Wide Web and it makes it tricky to preserve these freedoms.
Free Software is owned by its community of users and creators, for the benefit of that community, and of human society in general. Free Software respects the autonomy and privacy of its users — especially important in this age when so many companies base their business on control and surveillance of their customers.