Archive:Computer Science Majors

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As computer scientists, code is the language with which we communicate. It is our passion, our livelihood, and our means of expression. That’s why it is vitally important to make sure that code is always understood for what it is: a form of speech.

In recent years, dangerous legislation has passed that has already threatened and crushed free speech in code. Consider the following cases:

• Dimitri Sklyarov, a Russian programmer, wrote software that made legally purchased eBooks more useful by allowing them to be translated into other languages and converted into other formats. Upon arriving in the US to speak at a conference, he was arrested under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for writing code that circumvented digital copyright protection.

• Jon Johansen, a 16-year-old from Norway, wrote code that enabled legally purchased DVDs to be played on computers running GNU/Linux. His computers were confiscated and both he and his father were criminally prosecuted.

• Right now, legislation is being considered in the Senate that would make those who are found to “induce” copyright infringement liable. This could apply to any programmer who creates software that could be used for copyright infringement, even if the programmer has not infringed copyright herself.

If you want to assure that you have the same free speech rights in code as you have in other forms of speech, if you’re dedicated to defending your free speech rights no matter the medium, and if you’re committed cultivating innovation in the 21st century, join the Free Culture movement. - the international student movement for Free Culture - the fight to save the iPod and other technology from the INDUCE act - the Electronic Frontier Foundation, protecting your digital rights