Past Engagements

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Please join the Software Freedom Law Center and Columbia Law School for a series of talks by Eben Moglen on “Snowden and the Future” that will address the following questions:

What has Edward Snowden done to change the course of human history? How does the evolution of surveillance since World War II threaten democracy? What does it mean that information can be both so powerful and so easily spread? In a network embracing all of humanity, how does democracy survive our desire for security?

This first part of a four part series will run from 4:30 to 5:30 on the evening of October 9th, followed by part II on October 30th, Part III on November 13th, and part IV on December 4th. Please join us in room 101 of Columbia Law School’s Jerome Greene hall or online at

Eben Moglen
Founder of the Software Freedom Law Center. Columbia law professor and historian. 2003 recipient of the EFF pioneer award for his role in legalizing software encryption and defending free software. 1986-87 clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the US Supreme Court.

Available records

Destruction of personal privacy is the first global ecological crisis of the digital era. Predictive modeling of human behavior, combined with pervasive survellance of network interaction, provides tools for the maintenance of despotism unique in human history. All political freedom now depends on restoring privacy and anonymity to the network.

Data science promises to aid fundamental breakthroughs in every aspect of the human and social sciences. Soon we will be reconsidering everything we think we know about human social action and advancing on every front in our comprehension of society. In this talk, I consider the normative responsibilities of scientists pursuing research – and coordinating with both profit-driven and government entities – at the intersection of the two preceding propositions.

This event is part of the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering seminar series and will take place in the Davis Auditorium located at 500 West 120th Street on the Columbia University Campus. Detailed directions are available here. All are welcome.

Mishi Choudhary (Software Freedom Law Center), Deb Nicholson (Open Invention Network), Justin Colannino (Ropes & Gray LLP)

OSCon in Portland, OR
5:00pm Thursday, 07/19/2012
Business, E145

The intense commercial competition between technology companies is driving large volumes of complex and often multi-jurisdictional patent litigation. With the de facto possibility of patenting software related ideas in various countries, free and open source software developers must understand the patent risks inherent in the development and distribution of their software. This will help them cut through the patent FUD and develop real solutions to face the risk of patent aggression with the help of a collaborative ecosystem. Further, such collective thinking will ensure that we can spend less time worrying and more time accomplishing in areas crucial to innovation i.e better code and development, better documentation and a united community.

In this session lawyers from the Software Freedom Law Center and the Community Outreach Director of Open Invention Network (OIN) will discuss the current trends in software patent aggression, will provide useful information about patents and patent liability, and will explain some means to provide community defense.

More information available at the OSCon panel page.

This Sunday, Eben Moglen will be speaking at the ninth annual Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference at the Hotel Pennsylvania, in midtown Manhattan. His talk will be called “How to Retrofit the First Law of Robotics


We live with robots now, as we always knew we would. But they have no hands or feet. We carry them in our pockets. They see what we see. They hear what we hear. They always know where we are. But they do not work for us, and they are not programmed to obey the First Law. Profit made them, profit runs them, and they hurt us every day. Free Software can retrofit the First Law of Robotics into the robots we call cell phones, but those who control the robots don’t want freedom inside. That’s where we come in. This talk will discuss how.

HOPE Number Nine
The Hotel Pennsylvania, NYC
Sunday, 2012 July 15
1:00 PM in room “Dennis”

Available records

This coming Tuesday at the Freedom to Connect conference in Washington DC, Eben Moglen will be delivering the 11:00am keynote on the topic of Innovation under Austerity. The talk will be followed by 30 minutes of discussion lead by Doc Searls and others. All events at the conference will take place at the American Film Institute, located at 8633 Colesville Road. Directions are available here and registration for the event is still open here.

Available records

As largely self-organizing groups, free software projects have always faced unique challenges when they decide to formally incorporate. The choice whether to form a nonprofit or a for-profit carries not only legal but community consequences. Recently, these choices have only become more complex. The IRS is closely scrutinizing the applications of new free software nonprofits applying for tax exemption, and may apply more exclusive criteria to new applications than it has in the past. Recognizing a need, some established nonprofits have begun sponsoring the activity of smaller, unincorporated projects. And several U.S. states have adopted laws authorizing new “hybrid” corporate forms, “benefit corporations” organized for profit but dedicated to the public benefit. This presentation will discuss the changing corporate landscape of free software and discuss how projects should approach these issues when they consider incorporation.

Eben Moglen will be speaking at this year’s LibrePlanet, which will be held this March 24th and 25th in the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Eben will be speaking on the second day of the conference at 10:10 in the U03-3550/Ballroom. The conference is free for FSF associate members and more information is available from the LibrePlanet online schedule.

As a free/open source software project grows from idea to running code to stable release, its developers will inevitably be confronted with a number of legal issues. Some of these issues, like copyright licensing, are widely understood. Others, like the trademark implications of selecting a project name, are commonly overlooked. In this session, two lawyers for the Software Freedom Law Center will explain the basic legal concepts that confront a project over its lifecycle.

Topics will include:

  • Copyrights: choosing and applying a license, understanding contributor policies, and dealing with license interactions and compatibility issues.
  • Trademarks: selecting a project name, drafting an acceptable use policy, and minding the rights of others.
  • Patents: understanding patents and protecting your project from aggressive patent holders.
  • Incorporation: limiting developers’ liability, understanding fiscal sponsorship, and deciding whether to form a nonprofit.

Eben Moglen will be giving the keynote at this year’s annual Morningside Post Conference on Digital Media on the topic of “Navigating the Age of Democratized Media”. The conference is run at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in New York City. Eben’s keynote will begin at 3:00, right after the opening remarks. The conference is open to the public so if you are in the NY area, come by and take a look.

Available records

  • Audio posted March 2, 2011
  • Video posted March 7, 2011

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