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Lawrence Lessig on "Free Culture"

by Tara McGoldrick Walsh
Linux Newsletter for 08/19/2002

Dear Reader,

"Create like it's 1790," exhorted Lawrence Lessig before a packed house at OSCON 2002 last month. In a speech that weaved historical references with the refrain, "Ours is less and less a free society," Lessig urged the open source community to "...remind the rest of the world of what it was like when creativity and innovation were a process where people added to common knowledge."

Lessig's call to action masked this warning to his audience: "if you don't do something now, this freedom that you built, that you spend your life coding, this freedom will be taken away. Either by those who see you as a threat, who then invoke the system of law we call patents, or by those who take advantage of the extraordinary expansion of control that the law of copyright now gives them over innovation."

If you missed hearing Lessig's inspired keynote, we have the complete transcript of his presentation from July 24, 2002. Read why he thinks the only solution to ever-encroaching copyright laws and the "regulation of creativity" is for the community to get more involved in the political process.
Free Culture

Also this week, we have Michael Lucas's column on how using groups minimizes the need to give people the root password. He says the strategic use of groups can eliminate having to give out the root password to users, while still allowing them to do their job.
Using Groups to Eliminate Root

We also have a look at PHP References. Similar to C-style pointers, a PHP Reference is a variable that "references" the contents of another variable. John Coggeshall explains how to get started using them.
PHP References

And if you're interested in SSH, check out the O'Reilly book excerpt from "SSH, The Secure Shell: The Definitive Guide" that covers public-key authentication. Passwords--even encrypted ones-- sent over the Internet can still pose a security problem. However, with public-key authentication, you don't need to send passwords at all.
SSH Public-Key Authentication

If you missed Noel Davis's Security Alerts column, this week he reviewed buffer overflows in calloc(), Sun's ONE/iPlanet Web Server, dietlibc, OpenAFS, Kerberos 5 Administration System, and PNG libraries; and problems in FreeBSD's Berkeley Fast File System, CVS, iSCSI, Red Hat Secure Web Server, tinyproxy, and IRIX named.
C Call Vulnerabilities

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Finally, here's a chance to voice your opinion. In Tim O'Reilly's Weblog this week he talks about how legislation to require open source software in California opens Pandora's box. Read Tim's take on this issue, and then check out the growing discussion by clicking over to Slashdot. Let us know what you think.
The Growing Politicization of Open Source

Thanks for reading,

Tara A. McGoldrick
Web Editor
O'Reilly Network

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