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Free Software Is Major Theme at Brazil’s World Social Forum

The debate over freedom of information is one of the principal themes of the V World Social Forum (WSF), which begins today in Porto Alegre, capital of the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil.

Twenty-two seminars are integrated around one of the Forum’s guidelines “Thinking for Oneself, Repossession and Socialization of Knowledge, Information, and Technology,” which will discuss the use of free software like Linux, intellectual property, creative freedom, and digital inclusion.


“The discussion about free software coincides with a very current debate, the dispute over ownership of non-material goods.


“On one side, the large software, recording, film, and publishing firms, and on the other, those who view the digital revolution as something positive that can bring culture, science, and technology to the majority of the population,” observes Marcelo Branco, member of the Free Software Project.


Free software computer programs can be altered and copied at no cost by any user.


For the movement that defends the use of open-code programs, freedom to reproduce cultural goods can make products cheaper and more accessible to consumers.


“We are searching for a new management model in the digital world, not just for music, so that creators can be rewarded for their production but, at the same time, access for the less favored segments of the population can be expanded,” explained the coordinator of Digital Policies of the Ministry of Culture, Cláudio Prado.


The discussion about free software and the information society has gained more space since the first edition of the Forum in 2001.


This year, in addition to more debates, the WSF’s Organizing Council adopted, for the first time, the orientation that all the computers at the event should use open-code software.


The Youth Encampment also set up a Free Information Laboratory for the production of video and audio programs that can be copied gratuitously.


The main events involving this theme will bring together figures such as the Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, and the information technology sociologist and economist, Manuel Castells.


Other debates will discuss the relationship between free software, education, youth, and the application of technology in the administration of government policies.


One of the seminars intends to approach the use of information technology on behalf of women engaged in the solidary economy.


“Free software is an instrument of digital inclusion, and the people who belong to the solidary economy live on the outskirts of the labor market.


“The idea is to give the products made by these women visibility on the Web. And interconnect remote communities that participate in the solidary economy,” explains Loimar Vianna, a member of the Free Software Project and one of the organizers of the debate.


Translation: David Silberstein
Agência Brasil

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