Richard Stallman, unrepentant: 'Apple is your enemy'

GNU Project founder/free-software advocate sticks to his criticism of Steve Jobs, Apple's 'jails,' and software patents

Richard Stallman stands by his criticism of Steve Jobs in the wake of the Apple founder's death, the free-software advocate said in a recent interview with Slashdot readers. He also called for the elimination of harmful computing-related patents and advocated for preserving copyrights for works of opinion and art.

The FSF (Free Software Foundation) founder stirred up angry buzz in October 2011 with a post following Jobs' death:

Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died. ... As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone." Nobody deserves to have to die -- not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs's malign influence on people's computing.

In the recent interview, Stallman said he stood by his words, pointing fingers at critics who were "evidently were more concerned with forms of politeness than with substantive good and evil."

Stallman said people should stop praising Jobs for "the elegant styling of the jails he designed" but rather respond by saying "it's wrong to put users in jail."

As for Apple in general, he said simply, "Apple is your enemy, and if you don't recognize this and fight, you're being a chump."

Stallman's beef with Apple is expansive. For example, he's opined that "Apple iThings pioneered a new level of restricting the users," and he's claimed the company uses its patents to attack free software, engages in censorship, and spies on its customers.

Apple bashing aside, Stallman also used the forum to elaborate on his positions on copyright law and patent law, stressing that the two are very different beasts and should not be lumped together under the umbrella term "intellectual property."

Regarding copyrights, he said that works designed for performing practical tasks must be free -- but that "simply eliminating copyright on those works would not have this result. ... Without copyright, programs could still be made nonfree using EULAs [end-user license agreements], TiVoization, and nonrelease of source code, but we would no longer be able to prevent this using copyleft."

"As for works of opinion and art," he continued, "I don't think they must be free. I advocate some reforms of copyright for these works, but I see no reason to abolish it."

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