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About that Linus GPLv3 story making the rounds...
Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 07:52 PM EST

As soon as I saw it on the LKML, I knew Linus' statement that he wasn't planning on moving Linux to version 3 of the GPL would make headlines. It's the down side of fame that you can't just let your hair down and talk openly about anything without someone making it a news story.

I'm being ever so quiet about GPLv3 so far. I know, I just know, that if I write the simplest thing that can be taken as a negative about the wording of the license, some journalist looking for a story will make one out of it, and the headline will be, PJ DISSES GPL or PJ AND LARRY ROSEN CLASH OVER GPLv3 or something equally silly. And that makes it harder to talk and cooperate with others in public.

So let me explain something to you. The GPLv3 that we have now is just a draft. No one can adopt or reject it yet, because it's just a draft. It's like you went to your lawyer and asked for a contract to buy a house. He draws it up and sends it to you for your approval, and you see some things you aren't happy with. So you decide not to buy the house? No, silly, you tell your lawyer the changes you'd like so he can fix the wording. That's exactly what is happening here.

Now this process is a little different in that with a house contract, the person you are buying from doesn't get to listen while you talk to your lawyer about the contract. Here, every GPL hater and net kook does. It's also different because Richard Stallman gets final say, whereas your lawyer has to do what you want, subject to the law. But just as you can't get your lawyer to insert an illegal clause because he has obligations to something higher than to you, in the same way, rms won't let us put in anything that destroys the freedoms associated with the GPL. A lot of people depend on those freedoms and released their code under the GPL because of those freedoms, including Linus, because one of the freedoms is that no one can take the code away and slap a proprietary license on it. Not that some folks wouldn't love to do that.

So if anyone doesn't like the wording of the current draft, here's a suggestion: go to the FSF GPLv3 site for comments or email them and tell them what you don't like or do like. In this case, I think Linus misunderstood the wording of the draft, frankly, but that's easy to do. One thing that might help is if you look at the draft with the rationale side by side, which you can do here.

Linus seems to think you have to turn over your private key, such as one might use to sign off on code. That's not my understanding of the clause about DRM at all. I see no wording saying that. Of course, I'm still getting up to speed myself on the GPLv3. My current understanding of the DRM clause is just that if you can't run a program without a private key, you have to be given the key. And no invasions of user privacy are allowed. One key to the purposes of the DRM clause is stated in part in the rationale like this:

If a covered work is distributed as part of a system for generating or accesssing certain data, the effect of this paragraph is to prevent someone from claiming that some other GPL'd program that accesses the same data is an illegal circumvention.

Here's every word I can find about DRM in v3, taken from Groklaw's comparative chart:

Some countries have adopted laws prohibiting software that enables users to escape from Digital Restrictions Management. DRM is fundamentally incompatible with the purpose of the GPL, which is to protect users' freedom; therefore, the GPL ensures that the software it covers will neither be subject to, nor subject other works to, digital restrictions from which escape is forbidden....

Complete Corresponding Source Code also includes any encryption or authorization codes necessary to install and/or execute the source code of the work, perhaps modified by you, in the recommended or principal context of use, such that its functioning in all circumstances is identical to that of the work, except as altered by your modifications. It also includes any decryption codes necessary to access or unseal the work's output. Notwithstanding this, a code need not be included in cases where use of the work normally implies the user already has it....

3 Digital Restrictions Management.

As a free software license, this License intrinsically disfavors technical attempts to restrict users' freedom to copy, modify, and share copyrighted works. Each of its provisions shall be interpreted in light of this specific declaration of the licensor's intent. Regardless of any other provision of this License, no permission is given to distribute covered works that illegally invade users' privacy, nor for modes of distribution that deny users that run covered works the full exercise of the legal rights granted by this License.

No covered work constitutes part of an effective technological protection measure: that is to say, distribution of a covered work as part of a system to generate or access certain data constitutes general permission at least for development, distribution and use, under this License, of other software capable of accessing the same data....

You may copy and distribute a covered work in Object Code form under the terms of Sections 4 and 5, provided that you also distribute the machine-readable Complete Corresponding Source Code (herein the "Corresponding Source") under the terms of this License, in one of these ways:...

Distribution of the Corresponding Source in accord with this section must be in a format that is publicly documented, unencumbered by patents, and must require no special password or key for unpacking, reading or copying.

eWeek's Peter Galli did an article on the DRM clauses and corporate reactions, if you'd like to read a bit more about it. By the way, the latest on the Broadcast Flag is here, speaking of DRM.

In any case, no one has to switch their code to GPLv3 unless they feel like it, and I wasn't expecting it to happen with the kernel. It's an option for those that wish to switch. GPLv2 will always be here, if anyone prefers it. You use what works best for you. Licenses don't stop being supported, like software versions. You can use 2 forever if you want to and don't need what 3 offers.

But more importantly, it's a license that is being publicly edited. If you don't like something in the draft, tell them. Committee A, which I'm on, will be looking over all that you submit and evaluating whether it's an issue that needs to be addressed in the draft and making recommendations to the FSF, kind of like code submitted to the kernel goes through lieutenants before it gets to Linus. So comment away. The FSF is definitely wanting to hear from us.

And keep in mind that lots will be said. This is a public process. But there is nothing written in stone yet, so there is nothing to fight about or to take a stand on. So when you see comments about the draft from someone whose name you recognize, it doesn't mean they hate the GPL or v3. They can't hate v3, because it's not done yet. It probably means they are just brainstorming either to try to understand it or with the goal of making it better so that the SCOs of this world will never get a stranglehold on code that thousands of good-hearted men and women wrote so we could have a free operating system and lots of wonderful applications to run on it. Or they're just thinking out loud. Even famous people should be allowed to do that, I think. Once v3 is done, everyone can decide what they wish to do. It's all about freedom, after all. And that means you get to choose what you want.


About that Linus GPLv3 story making the rounds... | 327 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off-topic here
Authored by: uw_dwarf on Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 08:25 PM EST
Follow the instructions in red on the submissions page to make clickable

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here
Authored by: uw_dwarf on Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 08:26 PM EST

[ Reply to This | # ]

About that Linus GPLv3 story making the rounds...
Authored by: tknarr on Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 08:31 PM EST

My understanding of the DRM clauses matches yours, PJ. I note the explicit exception that lets you not provide a key if a recipient would be expected to have a working key of their own. As I read it, if you tried to take a GPLv3'd video player and create one that'd only play videos if they were signed with a certain specific private key, you'd be obliged to provide that key (since otherwise people couldn't create content playable by your player). If, though, your player would play video signed by any verifiable private key, and anyone could generate an acceptable private key to create new content, then you woudln't be obliged to provide your key along with the software. Similarly, code-signing keys wouldn't need to be provided unless they were required to alter and rebuild the software (which they normally wouldn't be, and if they were they'd require you to sign your changes with your private key, not the original author's).

[ Reply to This | # ]

2 < 2.1
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 08:38 PM EST
If I recall correctly (IIRC), any version 2 would be less than any version 2.1.
Also, IIRC, the GPL version 2.1 was the one version which did
"forward-link" any current version to any future version. And, IIRC,
there was some argument over the implemenation of version 2.1 half a decade ago,
or so, into the kernel. I think it today must be a bitter-sweet blend of GPL
versions into the myriad of kernel versions.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • 2 < 2.1 - Authored by: kjs on Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 10:00 PM EST
About that Linus GPLv3 story making the rounds...
Authored by: CypherOz on Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 08:47 PM EST
1. GPL3 is not locked down (yet)

2. The DRM provisions seem 2 backfire on personal encryption if it affects the distribution of either source or object code

3. Linus can use any license he likes (although how to handle contributed code if hs wants to change? Does everyone need to ok it?)

The GPL is enduring, not viral

[ Reply to This | # ]

About that Linus GPLv3 story making the rounds...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 09:12 PM EST
In any case, no one has to switch their code to GPLv3 unless they feel like it,...
Yes and no - if you included the "or later" clause, somebody could take your code, "improve" it with code that's declared to be GPL3 and the combined work will subsequently be GPL3 with no way back to compatibility with GPL2-only code.

Essentially, the GPL3 has the same one-way viral effect on GPL2-or-later code that GPL2 has on non-GPL code.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Face it...
Authored by: Observer on Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 10:09 PM EST
...some people are going to want to stick with GPLv2, no matter how much work is done on v3 to straighten it out, or clarify, or make it more (or less) business friendly, or whatever. GPLv3 starts to reach into a lot of hot areas, like DRAM and patents, and some people are going to get nervous. Some of those people may also be famous. After all, a lot of people have been using the current GPL license for a long time, and it's comfortable and familiar. The GPLv3 is an important update, but that doesn't mean it's going to solve everyone's problems. I'm certainly interested in Linus's thoughts on the license, but I'm not going to have a tizzy if he decides he doesn't like it.

I agree with PJ -- don't read too much into people's comments on the current draft of GPLv3, or even on comments made on the final draft, whenever that happens. The v2 license is still FREE in the largest sense of the term (though current trends are introducing nasty new threats). I have a feeling that there are still programs out there under GPLv1, and the world hasn't ground to a halt.

The Observer

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linus is right.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 10:42 PM EST
I initially thought that he was misunderstanding the GPLv3 provision on
signatures as well, but the more I think about ti the mroe I think he's right.

Question: what's the difference between Tivo distributing a kernel that's signed
with their secret key and Linus distributing a kernel signed with his secret

answer: the fact that hardware exists that won't run a kernel that's not signed
with Tivo's secret key

so what would happen if I were to build some hardware that wouldn't run a kernel
that's not signed by Linus' secret key? (note that I don't have to have his
secret key to build such hardware, just his public key), now I (or anyone else)
could force Linus to reveal his secret key.

and if they modify v3 so that it requires either the secret key or the ability
to replace the decrypting key with you own, what if the hardware I make doesn't
allow you to replace the key.

I understand what they are aiming for with the key requirement in v3 (and I
don't like the hoops I had to jump through to run my own software on my tivo),
but I don't see a way to do this without opening up loopholes that could require
people who don't do this type of thing to have to reveal their secret keys.

David Lang

[ Reply to This | # ]

"I think Linus misunderstood" ?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 02:54 AM EST
YOU'RE on a FSF committee? You? Who won't even use the Free Documentation
License for your work? YOU? Who's never written a line of code in your life?

Tell me this is some sort of sick, sad attempt at humour. Tell me that you're
going to add your... delightful... like "joking!" epithet to this

I think I just woke up in Bizarro World.

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL v2 - GPL v3 compatability
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 07:58 AM EST
Reading the comments I started to wonder about the following:

If I have software from somebody else that is licensed under GPL v2 and I add changes to it, am I allowed to distribute it under the GPL v3 license?

Same question, but the other way around:

If I have software from somebody else that is licensed under GPL v3 and I add changes to it, am I allowed to distribute it under the GPL v2 license?

And the third question I have is:

If I'm working on a big project together with other people. Some people deliver their sources under the GPL v2 license and other people deliver their sources under the GPL v3 license. Am I allowed to compile these sources into 1 program and under which license(s) am I allowed to distribute it?

[ Reply to This | # ]

For Now, Look at the Intent, Not the Wording
Authored by: Prototrm on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 09:14 AM EST
I remember a line from the movie Crimson Tide: "We're not here to practice
Democracy, we're here to defend it". Whatever form GPL3 finally takes, its
fate will be decided by one or two people at the top. All the comments made by
the rest of us will be "suggestions" or "recommendations"

If you want to know what the new GPL will mean to the rest of us, I think it's
important to look at the intentions of the authors.

With reguards to DRM, I think the intention is crystal clear: to word the GPL in
such a way as to make it impossible to release a program with effective DRM
under the GPL. The important thing about the wording is that you don't want to
ban stuff that *isn't* DRM accidently.

It seems that the bug that's gotten up the craw of a few folks is the Tivo,
which uses both Linux and DRM. Is it possible that Linus doesn't want to see his
creation (the linux kernel) locked out of the commercial universe?

I don't know, we'll have to ask him. Given the publicity his comments have
generated, I suggest he expand on those comments, and enlighten us as to his
Point of View.

As PJ has pointed out, when some people speak, everybody listens. She is one
such person, and Linus is another

[ Reply to This | # ]

Was this really the intent?
Authored by: beserker on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 09:30 AM EST
Reading through the license, the following sentence caught my eye:

As a free software license, this License intrinsically disfavors technical attempts to restrict users' freedom to copy, modify, and share copyrighted works.

As written this sounds like a statement on how copyrighted works should be treated in general. Wouldn't something like the following be better?

As a free software license, this License intrinsically disfavors technical attempts to restrict users' freedom to copy, modify, and share works copyrighted under this license.


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend,
Inside of a dog, its too dark to read."
- Groucho Marx

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linus -has- rejected -any- license other than GPL2
Authored by: Parity on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 09:54 AM EST
The core problem is that the 'or at your option' clause is not included in most
of the kernel sources. Without the option clause, or permission of the authors,
the license cannot be changed. For the same reasons that the linux kernel can
not be relicensed closed source, it can't be relicensed under another open
source license. So the kernel as a whole work can only be licensed under the
current GPL.

The only extent to which it matters what the GPLv3 says, is the extent to which
GPL2 code can be combined with GPL3 code. If GPL3 code can be added to (not
relicensed) GPL2 code, then the linux kernel could accept GPL3 code fragments
going forward, and maybe in the distant future the kernel-as-a-whole will have
been sufficiently rewritten to be licensed GPL3 as a work.

(I don't think the current draft of GPL3 is backwards compatible. I think the
DRM wording adds restrictions not specified in GPL2, and therefore is not
compatible with GPL2. GPL2 code with the 'or later version' clause can escape by
changing versions, but GPL2 code without the 'or later' clause will be



[ Reply to This | # ]

Is this even about DRM?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 10:29 AM EST
CNet made that link and everyone seems to have gone along with it, but it's not
clear to me. If anything, is it not more likely to relate to this:

Complete Corresponding Source Code also includes any encryption or authorization
codes necessary to install and/or execute the source code of the work, perhaps
modified by you, in the recommended or principal context of use, such that its
functioning in all circumstances is identical to that of the work, except as
altered by your modifications. It also includes any decryption codes necessary
to access or unseal the work's output. Notwithstanding this, a code need not be
included in cases where use of the work normally implies the user already has

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM is a complete lie
Authored by: Trepalium on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 01:14 PM EST
The Inquirer had an interesting article on DRM. The author has some interesting takes on DRM itself, and states, "DRM has absolutely nothing to do with protecting content, it is about protecting the wallets of major corporations. The funny thing is they aren't protecting it from you, they are protecting it from each other." It's a terribly interesting take on this entire DRM saga, and perhaps has an uncomfortable amount of truth in it.

No Software Patents!

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think Gentoo installs from source code ...
Authored by: jsoulejr on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 02:58 PM EST
Would that take care of it?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dead kernel contributors
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 03:10 PM EST
There is more here then just the DRM issue. Linus does not have the copyright
on all the kernel sources. Other people contribute to the kernel besides Linus.
All contributors would have to give permission to change the license. Also,
some of the kernel contributors can not be contacted because they have died
which introduces an interesting problem.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I hope you are right
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 04:09 PM EST
In this case, I think Linus misunderstood the wording of the draft, frankly,

That was my first reaction, and it may still be right. I hope it is.

But an alternative interpretation is that Torvalds actually wants Linux to be usable by people who want to do DRM. Maybe he isn't entirely the wonderful fellow he has been built up to be.

Maybe he just went along with the GPL because without all that GPL'd code, his kernel was useless. Now that the great mass of computer users think "Linux" is the whole operating system, now that there's a claque of foolish people dissing the FSF, maybe he feels he doesn't need them anymore. I hope this is not the case, but it's possible.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Breaking News
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 04:17 PM EST
The lawyers for FSF argue forcefully that the GPL is a contract. From the FSF’s
Software Foundation:

“Plaintiff's mischaracterization of the GPL in his Response has no bearing on
the resolution of the pending Motion to Dismiss because the Court can examine
the GPL itself. "[T]o the extent that the terms of an attached contract
conflict with the allegations of the complaint, the contract controls."
Centers v. Centennial Mortg., Inc., 398 F.3d 930, 933 (7th Cir. 2005).1”

Why did Eben Moglen allow the ICE MILLER firm to file this nonsense?

[ Reply to This | # ]

About that Linus GPLv3 story making the rounds...
Authored by: iabervon on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 04:21 PM EST
There's nothing to say that parts of the kernel can't be offered with additional
licenses, such as the GPLv3. There are lots of files on which Linus is the sole
copyright holder, and he could say v2 or v3. There are others which are under
v2+ (specifically noted in the file). There are more which are under the BSD or
other licenses which would allow licensing under the GPLv3 in addition. So if
Linus and everybody else available agreed that the GPLv3 was a better license,
they could start adding GPLv3 offers to files, require that new contributions be
offered under v2 and v3, and change the overall license once nothing remained
which wouldn't permit it, under the assumption that all of the kernel will
eventually be replaced.

It is, of course, not true that Linus could do it either suddenly or by himself.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hypothetical question
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 05:40 PM EST
Let's assume cisco sells routers running linux.

You can download all the source from their website, both for the initial
software and all binary updates required to patch security holes.

The router interprets any stream of packets with a certain marker as a firmware
update and immediately flashes it to its proms.

The router comes with a three-position switch on the back :

a) any stream is accepted

b) any stream is accepted, but only if it decrypts with a key you provide as
admin on the console

c) any stream is accepted, but only if it decrypts with cisco's public key (very
easy and very secure updates, just broadcast them on your lan)

This seems fair and does not limit you in the ways you can modify the firmware
on the router. This should be okay with the spirit of the GPLv3.

Now some security-concious customers want to buy specially modified routers with
the switch left out and the function hardwired in the chipset to position c).

For the customer, this would mean an intruder with physical access to the router
could not flip the switch to position a) and compromise his LAN. For the average
customer, this would be a big plus.

Question : Would cisco be allowed to sell the locked-down version of the router
with GPLv3'ed software at the special request of the customer ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The real issue with signed code
Authored by: horsten on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 05:45 PM EST
Since I expect that most people here don't read the LKML fully, I'm going to
crosspost my reply to Linus in the pertinent thread here since I think it's
important to the Groklaw community as well.

On Wed, 25 Jan 2006, Linus Torvalds wrote:

> And quite frankly, I don't see that changing. I think it's insane to
> require people to make their private signing keys available, for example.
> I wouldn't do it.

Linus, I think you are missing the point here. I see this provision as one
of the most important fixes in GPL v3. It might not be perfect in the way
it is presented in the draft, but the rationale is certainly laudable.

This closes a very serious loophole, that in certain situations renders
the GPLv2 almost worthless. The problem is embedded systems, but
especially cellphones.

A typical smartphone has a baseband processor (running the GSM stack under
a proprietary OS - let's call it the Baseband OS) and an application
processor (running the PDA features and GUI, for example Symbian OS or
Linux, let's call it the Application OS). Newer phones use a microkernel
architecture where the two OS's each run as tasks under a microkernel so
that a single CPU can be shared, but that's not relevant for this point.

The practice for many phone manufacturers is to heavily encrypt and sign
all ROM images that go on the phone. They do this for several reasons, but
mostly to prevent end-users from modifying the baseband code (where things
like SIM-locks and network locks are stored) or changing the IMEI number
of stolen phones.

However, most manufacturers extend this protectin to also encompass the
PDA-side code. This is understandable (to an extent) where the operating
system is proprietary or licensed (e.g. Symbian OS) and not available for
end-users to modify in any case.

But when Linux is used instead (something that most major handset
manufacturers are working on at the moment), this whole picture changes.
Suddenly the whole point of "Free Software" goes away. Because the
manufacturer modifies, adapts and uses the Linux kernel (for free),
without having to give anything back to the community. Yes, they have to
make their modified source available, but there is no way a casual user
(read: someone not a member of the phone-unlocking mafia) can update the
kernel with a modified, recompiled version.

But it goes further. The manufacturer is free to embed "trusted
computing" technology into the kernel (e.g. digital signing of all
executables that can run on the phone), as long as the encryption
technology is included in the kernel (they can even embed the
public key in the published sources, and you have no way of
obtaining the secret key) - thereby preventing the user from running ANY
code on the phone not pre-approved by the manufacturer.

Their main motivation for doing this is basically to protect the mobile
network operators' revenue, by preventing (or at least limiting)
installation of things such as VoIP clients and instant messenger systems
that could lead towards an "open TCP/IP" infrastructure that all the
operators fear so much.

The prime example of this is what is already implemented is Symbian OS. In
Version 9, used by the latest handsets from Nokia and Sony Ericsson, it is
impossible to install applications that are not signed by an independent
testing house, something that effectively locks small businesses and
independent hobby coders out of the market. There are even certain
"capabilities", needed for example to implement networking protocols,
can only be signed if approved by the phone manufacturer.

The only way to prevent Linux from being abused in this way is to require
that the end-users have a method of installing the modified code on the
device for which it was intended (such as your phone). If they don't want
to disclose their primary signing keys, fine, but then they need to make
another method available of replacing any free software used in the device
with a modified (by the end-user) version. I understand the need to
protect the non-GPL'ed "baseband" OS from tampering, but it has to be
possible to replace the GPL'ed software. This is what this provision is
all about (for me), and I think it is an extremely important one.

Of course I have focused on cellphones, but the same is equally true for
other embedded devices, such as digital TV boxes (e.g. PVR's). If I want
to add a nice feature (and share the patch with my friends who bought the
same box) I should be free to do so. Isn't that what Free Software is all


[ Reply to This | # ]

About that Linus GPLv3 story making the rounds...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 27 2006 @ 09:08 PM EST
I can't remember by danged password.

Anyway, I'm confused regarding the intended impact of GPL v3 against DRM.
Specifically Moglen's comments in the interview:

"As I'm sure you know, it's damn hard to make a modern movie for release in
theaters without using free software. They benefit from the work we do all the
time. Modern special effects, which are what their remaining lousy little
business depends upon, are impossible without us. Not withstanding that they are
uniquely indebted to us for what they do, they still refuse to respect our
users' rights."


"Q: But does this aggressive stance against DRM ultimately benefit non-free
software--in this case it'd be Windows? If Disney cannot stomach the use of
Linux because of these new DRM provisions, won't they just go with Windows?

Moglen: Their truthful situation is more difficult than that. They are compelled
to behave now in a fashion which is obviously inequitable. If they could make
movie special effects and do their rendering using software that didn't also
come with freedom attached, perhaps they would. It would at least render them

That they find it use the benefits of software conceived in
freedom and then to turn around and try to deny those benefits to other people
is obviously flat unfair."

It seems that to curtail DRM it would require that any output from GPL v3 based
renderers not be DRM'd?

The license doesn't say anything of the sort. As near as I can tell it only
impacts the kind of use that Linus sees: prevention of creating GPL'd code that
requires a key to run on certain hardware.

I don't see "It also includes any decryption codes necessary to access or
unseal the work's output." applying in the case of Disney's renderfarms as
the work's output isn't encrypted or restricted. That output is the raw frames
used to construct a movie which is then encrypted or restricted later when it
goes out DRM'd.


[ Reply to This | # ]

The DRM clauses should be revised.
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 04:18 AM EST
Having read the draft GPL3, I think the DRM provisions
in GPL3 need to be changed. The problem is that unlike
GPL2, which is clear and objective, the GPL3 clauses
referring to DRM are vague and are a statement of general
intent. This makes it a bad license.

What is meant by DRM is not objectively defined - remember
terms DRM, DMCA are terms is a US only laws which stop at
the US border, and the DRM and DMCA are bad laws the
interpretation, interpretation and applicability of which
are still being defined in US law. Both will hopefully be
repealed at some stage. Laws change, but GPL on the other
hand is for ever and must not include any references to
laws or definitions which are subject to change or are
limited to one country. The GPL should therefore say
objectively and precisely what can and can't be done
without any reference to ambiguous terms like DRM or DMCA.

GPL3 also confuses making the code freely modifiable and
freely accessible downstream with making content freely
modifiable and freely accessible downstream. If DRM/DMCA
makes it illegal to access or freely modify code because
it is deemed to be a protection measure, then that clearly
should not be permitted since it violates the fundamental
principles of GPL and violates GPL2 as well as GPL3 (which
is why DeCSS decryption libraries cannot be distributed in
the US under GPL2). Also the GPL3 clauses about requiring
the user to agree to accept DRM restrictions make sense in
order for authors to avoid the liability of getting sued
by users as Sony did, and should be kept in.

However GPL3 seems to try to enforce making content freely
accessible downstream as well as code. This is
fundamentally wrong, and attempts to do this will end up
in GPL3 not being widely adopted. GPL is about code, not
content, and attempts to dictate how content is to be used
or accessed using is like putting clauses into GPL that
restricts use of the code in countries ruled by dictators
or by members of a particular religion - something that
GPL has always explicitly prevented licensees from doing
no matter how good the cause may seem. Also the code and
content copyright holders are different people, and
attempts to tie accessibility to the two into one license
will kill GPL3 adoption. Content should be covered by a
separate license (eg. the public commons license) - not
by GPL. The way GPL3 is worded, I am not sure if using PGP
encryption to encrypt/decrypt email or files would be
considered a DRM measure not permitted by GPL3.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think it would be best
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 11:46 AM EST
if PJ declared her involvement at the beginning of GPL v3 articles - early
declaration would help make 'things' clearer.

[ Reply to This | # ]

If you don't like the GPL...
Authored by: bigbert on Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 10:31 PM EST
...then don't use it, and don't use other people's software released under the
GPL. I propose a new license: the "DCM License".

"You can use the software under this License for any reason whatsoever. You
can bend it, fold it, spin it, multilate it, eat it with your cornflakes or
smoke it -- just Don't Call Me (DCM). You can rename it and sell it to other
people, just DCM. You can include it in your own software, just DCM. You can
export it to Iran, just DCM. As a matter of fact, DCM, period"

I am sure this is what a lot of people want, so I and getting the ball rolling
by releasing the First Ever Program under the DCM:

for r=1 to 13
read d
print chr$(d);
next r
data 76,110,120,82,108,122,44,32,100,48,48,100,33

Enjoy, Bill!

4c 69 6e 75 78 20 52 75 6c 65 73 21

[ Reply to This | # ]

Don't ignore comments about misdrafting
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 30 2006 @ 04:07 PM EST
"Committee A, which I'm on, will be looking over all that
you submit and evaluating whether it's an issue that needs
to be addressed in the draft and making recommendations to
the FSF"

Make sure you take the comments from people such as myself
(neroden at, who have found subtle wording
problems in things like the DRM clause, *very* seriously.

We know what we need in a license, and we care a lot about
technical accuracy of the wording to avoid unintended
consequences. It is *very easy* for a license to say
something it wasn't intended to say, and the GPL draft is
no exception; it has done so in several places which
*must* be fixed for the license to be considered free by
Debian. Our comments on such issues were completely
ignored during the GFDL "comments" period, which is why
many of us are suspicious they will be ignored again.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Specifics - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 30 2006 @ 04:21 PM EST
    • Specifics - Authored by: Wol on Monday, January 30 2006 @ 05:24 PM EST
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