December 10, 2002  ·  Lessig

I received an email from Eben Moglen today. Eben’s been donating his time and legal talent to the Free Software Foundation for a very long time. (He, unlike some of us, is a real coder as well as legaloid, and he’s about the most impressive and passionate speaker I’ve ever seen).

Eben’s missive was a request for money for the Free Software Foundation. He has put his money where his missive is. Though he has given many times this amount in his own time, he wrote a check this month to FSF for $20,000.

At about the same time I heard about that, I receive a notice from the treasurer of the Eldred Legal Defense Fund (which does not need money at the moment), that we had received an extremely large contribution from “someone in Japan.” I tracked it down, and discovered that the incredibly talented Mr. Yamagata, who has translated tons of great stuff, and also has translated my books, has a policy of giving “50% of the money [he] earns from free-software related translation to free-software related projects.”

And on the very same day I learned about this gift from Yamagata, I learned of the work of Luke Francl to take a bit from my OSCON speech and try to do some good with it.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching, and tinkering, in this web-log space, it is that the many tiny brushstrokes of thousands paints more and more powerfully than the blast of even the most important and powerful papers. (This is especially true here in Japan, as innovators such as Joi have tried to show.)

But just as these words are important to reason, so too is the support of right-acting organizations important to getting good done. Social entrepreneur Henri Poole (another strong FSF supporter) has built a powerful tool to translate reputation into support. (See the description here.) But whether you use his tools or not, it is at this time of the year when donations are crucial.

As I indicate on my Affero page, I count FSF and EFF as the two key players to support. But whether these two, or two others, do something now. If not as much as Eben, or as principled as Hiroo, then at least enough to show that reason has support.

  • Seth Finkelstein

    “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” – Bob Dylan

    Hmm … affero reminds me of “affinity” credit-cards, which
    donate a little to your favorite organizations every time
    you use them. Then affero seems to have adapted that to
    Paypal/Amazon type tip-jars. Interesting, but it remains to
    be seen how well it works in practice.

  • hiroo yamagata

    Umm, for the record, I donate 50 percent of what I earned from free software related translation and writing, not ALL translations.