From: rms@AI.MIT.EDU (Richard Stallman)
Subject: Announcing the League for Programming Freedom
Date: 10 Nov 89 22:50:44 GMT
Organization: GNUs Not Usenet
Fight "Look and Feel" Lawsuits--Join the LPF
The League for Programming Freedom is an organization of people who
oppose monopolistic practices in the computer industry, particularly
the recent "look and feel" lawsuits claiming copyright on common
user interfaces. Some of us are programmers who worry that
user-interface copyright will obstruct our work. Some of us are
users, who want the computers we use to be compatible with the
interfaces we know.
User-interface copyright would be a new class of government-enforced
monopolies broader in scope than ever before. These monopolies
would enforce gratuitous incompatibility, stifle innovation, reduce
productivity, and make computation more difficult and expensive for
We in the League hope to prevent these problems by preventing
user-interface copyright. The League is not opposed to copyright
law as it was understood until 1986--copyright on particular
programs. Our aim is to stop changes in the copyright system which
would take away programmers' traditional freedom to write a new
program compatible with existing programs and practices.
The League for Programming Freedom will oppose the doctrine behind
look-and-feel suits by any means consistent with the law and
intellectual liberty. On May 24th, we picketed Lotus headquarters
on account of their lawsuits against competitors, stimulating
widespread media coverage for the issue.
We will also write editorials, boycott egregious offenders, talk with
public officials, and file amicus curiae briefs with the courts. If
you have other ideas, please suggest them.
In the future, the League may also fight against other monopolistic
practices, such as software patents, which threaten to make every
design decision in software development a risky one. The League's
founders consider software patents potentially even more dangerous
than look-and-feel copyright, but it will be up to the members
whether the League should campaign against them.
Whether you wish to work on League activities, or just pay your dues
and add your name to our membership list, we need your support.
Membership dues in the League are $42 per year ($21 for students);
please give more if you can. The League's funds will be used for
filing briefs; for printing handouts, buttons and signs; whatever
will influence the courts, the congress and the people. You won't
get anything personally for your dues--except for the freedom to
write programs. The League is a non-profit corporation, but because
it is a lobbying organization, your contributions may not be
We also accept corporate (nonvoting) members; please phone or write
for more information.
If you have any questions, please write to the league or phone
Richard Stallman, President
Chris Hofstader, Secretary
Denis Filipetti, Treasurer
To join, please send a check and the following information to:
League for Programming Freedom
1 Kendall Square #143
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
(If you are at MIT, you can send or bring them to Richard Stallman
in NE43-430, if that is easier for you.)
Your address, where we should write to you for elections and such:
The company you work for, and your position:
Your phone number and email address, so we can contact you for
demonstrations or for writing letters to Congress. (If you don't want
us to contact you for these things, please say so; your support as a
member is helpful nonetheless.)
Is there anything about you which would enable your endorsement of the
LPF to impress the public? For example, if you are or have been a
professor or an executive, or have written software that has a good
reputation, please tell us.
Would you like to help with LPF activities?
The corporate charter of the League for Programming Freedom states:
The purposes of the League shall be the furtherance of charitable,
educational and scientific purposes which qualify as exempt ...,
and to engage in activities to:
1. To determine the existence of, and warn the public about,
restrictions and monopolies on classes of computer programs where such
monopolies prevent or restrict the right to develop certain kinds of
2. To develop countermeasures and initiatives, in the public interest,
effective to block or otherwise prevent or restrain such monopolistic
activities including education, research, publications, public
assembly, legislative testimony, and intervention in court proceedings
involving public interest issues (as a friend of the court).
3. To engage in any business or other activity in service of and
related to the foregoing paragraphs that lawfully may be carried on...
The officers and directors of the League will be elected annually by
[This is an announcement of a related organization. If you want to
discuss the issue, please use gnu.misc.discuss, or perhaps some
general political list, since these issues are not particularly
Please repost this in any other lists, local or netwide, where it
would be relevant and useful.]