decoration decoration

When you want to know more...
For layout only
Site Map
About Groklaw
Legal Research
ApplevSamsung p.2
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Gordon v MS
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
MS Litigations
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
OOXML Appeals
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v Novell
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Unix Books


Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

You won't find me on Facebook


Donate Paypal

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.

What's New

No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

Exclusive: Richard Stallman, interviewed at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, by Sean Daly
Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 12:15 AM EDT

Groklaw's own Sean Daly was in Barcelona at the 3rd International GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, Spain, this week, and while there, he had the opportunity to interview Richard Stallman [as Ogg (3.8 MB)] . He asked Mr. Stallman what programmers should focus on next, about DRM, binary drivers, proposed changes to the GPL, and what he feels he has yet to accomplish.

This is just the first of three interviews. Next will come an interview with Harald Welte of fame, and one with a panel made up of Fernanda Weiden of Associação, Brazil, Alexandre Oliva of Free Software Foundation Latin America, and Federico Heinz, president of the Free Software Foundation Latin America and of La Fundación Vía Libre in Argentina.

If you need a player for Ogg files, you can download Audacity, a free application that can play them, here. Thank you to all who coded Audacity for us. It works on Windows, MacOS, and GNU/Linux and is available under the GPL license; if you prefer to compile it from source, go here. You might find this information about MP3s of interest. Also, here's a review of something new, GeeXbox 1.0, for playing media files in Gnu/Linux.

I'll let Sean tell you a bit about this interview:

SEAN DALY: I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd International GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona this week and my contribution was to videotape the presentations; they should be online within ten days or so on the FSF Europe site.

Richard M. Stallman spoke on the morning of June 22nd and explained the reasons for this proposed new version of the General Public License, the first change since 1991, currently under review (see I asked him if he would sit down with me very briefly for Groklaw at the lunch break of the last day of the conference and he graciously accepted, despite being very pressed for time, before convening his next meeting and running for a train. In both his presentation and this interview, I was struck by the clarity of his thought and expression.

We have prepared a transcript of the interview for you also, in case you are deaf or simply prefer to read than to listen. If you are like me, you like to do both at the same time. So, enjoy!


Interview with Richard Stallman, by Sean Daly
Barcelona, Spain, June 23, 2006


Q: If you could wave a magic wand, what would you ask GNU programmers to work on next?


rms: I can't think of any one answer, of course. Important areas include speech recognition, CAD, free drivers which may require reverse engineering for development; those are, I think, the priorities now. Flash was a high priority, but it's mostly done, and Java is -- well, a lot of people were working on it, and we're doing pretty well now, but I'd say it still qualifies as a priority.


Q: OK. Now, what do you think the community can do about the practice of bundling binary or proprietary drivers, such as Linspire does? What do you think about the --


rms: We can't do anything about them, except refuse to use or promote their software. What we need to do is organize more not to buy the hardware that doesn't cooperate with Free Software. Now, the FSF is trying to do something about this, but we don't have resources to do very much of it. We have a part of the site which is -- which describes which products work with Free Software and which don't, but unfortunately, there are only a couple of areas of hardware for which we have any information. We need a few more experts on a few more areas to contact us and give us the information about which products work.


Q: OK. You spoke yesterday about "Tivoization", the hardware problem. Do you feel that this is a problem that will appear more and more, with embedded --


rms: I can't predict the future. It's a mistake to try to answer questions like that. Regardless of whether it happens -- whether it will happen more or less without our efforts, the point is to stop it from happening. That's -- the issue is not -- it's not -- to approach these questions with the attitude of predicting essentially is to assume that we are passive victims. But the point is, we shouldn't be passive victims! We should decide that it will not happen! [pounds table] And the way we decide that is by activism. We have to do everything possible to make sure that those products are rejected, that they fail, that they give bad reputations to whoever makes them.


Q: Have you ever considered the possibility as a distribution clause of the GPL to create a central repository? I'll explain myself -- in copyright, for example, you send a copy to the Library of Congress.


rms: Well, you only do that if you register the copyright, in the US.


Q: Right. Right.


rms: No, absolutely not. It would not be Free Software if everybody had to send copies to a particular place. And we have in fact rejected licenses for that precise reason, such as the first version of the Apple Public - I can't remember the precise name now, Apple Public Source License? In any case, we rejected it because it required people who really used modified versions to send a copy to Apple. And later, they revised the license and it doesn't require that, so now it's a Free Software license.


Q: OK. Now, when we talk about Digital Restrictions Management, what kind of role do you see it playing in Free Software? In other words --


rms: Well, it can't play any.


Q: It can't play any.


rms: No. You see, when somebody's goal is to restrict the public, the first thing he does is, he writes software whose code restricts the public, refuses to function as the public would wish. The next thing he wants to do is make sure that the public can't remove that restriction. So, of course he's not going to want it to really be Free Software. His goal is that the public should not have Freedom Number 1 the freedom to change the program and make it do what you want. So they try various things to stop this, they -- well, the first step is, if they can, they just don't release the source code. But the next step is -- which they could try either way -- is Tivoization, that is designing a machine so that it won't run a modified version. Now, this is a way of turning Freedom Number 1 into a sham. And we've decided that we are going to defend Freedom 1 as a reality, not just as a theoretical construct. So there is no room for DRM in Free Software. You could write a Free program which refuses to do something, I think there are a few, but the point is, since users can change it, it won't really satisfy anyone who wishes to impose DRM on others.

Now, this is an interesting example of the difference between Free Software and Open Source. Some people promote what they call "Open Source DRM". Now, recall the difference in fundamental values between Free Software and Open Source. In Free Software, our values are freedom and community. We want to be part of a community of free people. Whereas, in Open Source, they talk about making powerful, reliable software and they promote a development model. Now, for us, the question of how a program is developed is a secondary issue. I mean, if some models work better than others, fine -- use them. But that's not what's really important to Free Software, to people who value -- who support the Free Software movement and value freedom.

So, there are people who say that they could apply that development model to developing software designed to restrict us. And maybe it's true; maybe if people study and share and collaborate in developing software designed to take away our freedom, it might become more powerful and reliable in taking away our freedom. But that's a bad thing. That's evil. It's -- in spirit, it's similar to collaborative development of a virus. If something is evil, we don't want it to be done well. We want it to be done as badly as possible.


Q: OK. I was listening closely to you yesterday when you talked about what I could call the "Patrick Henry" [GPL] clause, "Liberty or Death".


rms: Yeah.


Q: And you said, you know, we have to burn our boats, win or fail, and that it's key to not surrender others' freedom.


rms: Exactly.


Q: Could you talk about that for a moment?


rms: That clause in the GPL -- it's now Section 12, but it used to be Section 7, it's pretty much unchanged. What it says is, if you accept or have imposed on you a condition that won't let you distribute the program giving others all the freedoms that the GPL says, then you can't distribute it at all. So, what it means is that you either distribute it in a way that gives the others the freedoms that they're supposed to have, or you do nothing. And we've chosen the title for it now: "No surrendering others' freedom".


Q: OK. One last question: if you look at your life since your started the GNU project, what do you think still needs to be achieved, your mission?


rms: Oh, a lot! We -- the goal is to liberate everyone in cyberspace. And as you can see, we've come a long way and we have even further to go. We have now made a broad collection of Free Software. In a couple of months, the Free Software Directory will have five thousand packages listed. All of them run on GNU/Linux, and all -- with the exception of a few GNU packages that aren't finished yet -- all are mature and usable. And all will work in a completely Free system, unless we've made a mistake somewhere. So, this is a substantial achievement, but we need thousands more. We have provided Free operating systems used by perhaps a hundred million users, but there's hundreds of millions more who are still under the power of the feudal lords of software. That's not right. That shouldn't be. And our goal is to change that. Proprietary software is an antisocial practice. Our goal is to put an end to that practice.


Q: Thank you very much.


rms: Happy hacking!

Sean Daly is a Fellow of the Free Software Foundation Europe.

Copyright © 2006 Pamela Jones. Verbatim copying and distribution of this interview (audio and text) in its entirety is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.


Exclusive: Richard Stallman, interviewed at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, by Sean Daly | 286 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 01:35 AM EDT
Please place corrections to the story under this message.

"If it doesn't come naturally, leave it" --Al Stewart

[ Reply to This | # ]

[OT Here] A Place for Off Topic Posts.
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 01:38 AM EDT
Because every post is special.

"If it doesn't come naturally, leave it" --Al Stewart

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thank you Sean
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 01:42 AM EDT
Nice work Sean. Good questions!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Exclusive: Richard Stallman, interviewed at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 02:00 AM EDT
Does DRM really have no use at all in free software? Wouldn't DRM be useful for
security purposes? Suppose I want to keep my own information private on my own
computer? Isn't personal privacy also a freedom?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Exclusive: Richard Stallman, interviewed at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 02:11 AM EDT
So, it's 'free' as in commercial freedom; the freedom for a corporation to run its software as it likes, for whatever purpose the corporation is constituted for, serviced and maintaned by whoever it chooses.

IBM eServer BlueGene runs free software. I don't think there is (yet) any proprietary software for it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Hmm? - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 11:44 AM EDT
Exclusive: Richard Stallman, interviewed at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 02:22 AM EDT
I keep hoping that DVD players will start showing up in the mail, like AOL CDs;
that Sony, TimeWarner, Disney etc. will be honest about saying that
DVD-encumbered hardware is not something that the consumer owns; but instead is
something that the movie studios need you to have as a necessary part of their
business model in selling or renting commercial DVDs.
It's more honest that way.

[ Reply to This | # ]

License for the interview?
Authored by: jbn on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 02:34 AM EDT
What's the license on the interview audio file?

It would be great if the license would allow verbatim distribution in any medium
without royalty so long as a simple license text (such as this one) was
preserved. But I wouldn't frown on something more permissive as well.


[ Reply to This | # ]

The Ultimate Tivoization
Authored by: argee on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 03:16 AM EDT
MS is often called a monopoly, but it is really not. I can
ignore it, buy a PC at Walmart and run Linux, XP, etc on it.

The real horror will begin when/if you buy a PC and it will
ONLY work with Windows. Right now, MS is getting all those
building blocks together. They hate open PC's and I think
a big push for Tivoized PC's will come "soon."


[ Reply to This | # ]

Exclusive: Richard Stallman, interviewed at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, by Sean Daly
Authored by: gbl on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 03:27 AM EDT
DRM means a little part of your computer and your data belongs to and is controlled by someone else. Suppose you rent some music from a supplier and that company collapses. DRM will make sure that when the current rental period ends so will access to the music.

There is no fix for copying in the digital age using current technology. DRM is a sideshow that will always be cracked as all the necessary keys etc are available in the hardware/firmware/software while the data is statically encoded on disk.

Even with the new blu-ray scheme, I'd guess that it will be broken within six months of the hardware becoming generally available.

If you love some code, set it free.

[ Reply to This | # ]

An extremeist in action
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 05:45 AM EDT
Whilst I contribute to, and use free software, I also earn my living coding for
people. It pays for my house, my food and my kids education.

"Proprietary software is an antisocial practice. Our goal is to put an end
to that practice."

So, Mr Stallman, you intend to end my livelyhood do you? No, don;t waste your
time telling me how I'll still be paid, its just I'll be working on free code,
because It aint happened yet.

and the new section 12 of GPL3 means a companty can't even create a version for
internal use without giving the source code to everyone in the organisation who
uses it.

I love free software, I even contribute a bit when I can .. but this is going
too far. there is a place for proprietary software, there is a place for free
software, why Mr Stallman should want to remove my freedom to run proprieatary
software if I want to is beyond me.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thanks to Sean, and especially to Richard Stallman!
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 11:19 AM EDT
I always enjoy it when Richard Stallman gives interviews. He was probably the first person--many, many years ago!--to fundamentally understand that we have a CHOICE of whether we want to preserve freedoms to do whatever we want with our software, or whether we're going to let other parties take those freedoms away from us.

Also, he had the guts to stand up for his freedoms and everyone else's, to be able to do what they want with their software. He's done more than just about any other single person to try and protect those freedoms for regular folks like you and me.

Can you imagine what the software landscape would look like today without the GPL, without the FSF and without all the free software that has been licensed under the GPL (both by the FSF and by many other open-source contributors)? Even if many of us continue to use non-free systems such as Windows XP, it is nice to know we have a choice. And we WOULDN'T have that choice anymore if Richard and many others had not stood up when they did.

Lots of people criticise Richard Stallman, but in my view nearly all of those people are either (1) immature kids who wouldn't pass a real civics class if they were ever put in one, (2) people who don't understand the real issues and how fundamental they are, or (3) shills or trolls or other people with an anti-freedom agenda.

There are a small number of people who understand the issues but aren't particularly concerned about them; extreme pragmatists like Linus probably fall into this category. Still, I don't often hear Linus or others from this category criticising Stallman.

The people who criticise Richard Stallman are those who are afraid of his message.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Choosing Free Software Friendly Hardware
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 11:21 AM EDT
Its a nice theory that people can "vote with their feet" and avoid hardware with closed drivers - but it isn't always easy.

Buying (say) a WiFi card or a TV adaptor for Linux is always a leap of faith, because any GPL drivers are usually chipset-based and card manufacturers rarely advetise which chipset they use, and quite commonly change the chipset without altering the model name or packaging.

There's also the firmware issue - even cards with GPL drivers often rely on a gob of proprietary firmware grabbed of the Windows driver CD and uploaded to the card on startup. This isn't "part" of the driver - it sets up DSPs, FPGAs, microcontrollers etc. on the card (the distinction between software and hardware is pretty blurred nowadays). Should this be "open" or shouldn't it?

Hardware manufaturers could claim that using modified firmware invalidates their FCC or (in the EU) CE approval (which would make it illegal to sell). Anybody hoping to produce "open-source" hardware (as was suggested by either RMS or LT recently) could find that they need to comply with such regulations - and certification usually costs serious money.

Not all such regulations are fascist attempts to impose broadcast flags - some of them are there to make sure that it doesn't burn down your house, irradiate your kiddies or call out the coastguard.

I can understand the sentiments behind "anti tivoisation" clauses in the new GPL - but they could easily backfire and simply make GPL software unusable.

The worst case scenario is that these clauses weaken the GPL and encourage FUD or legal challenges by getting into murky waters such as "intended use" and what is "necessary" to make a program run. When even Linus Torvalds allegedly doesn't get it, what FUD are Microsoft and future SCO-a-like's going to spin from it?

The way to defeat DRM is to persuade Joe Public that he doesn't want to buy DRM-encumbered media. The difficult bit will be pesuading his teenage kids Connor and Chloe Public that they won't become social outcasts if they don't get the latest J-Lo concert Blu-Ray disc.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Exclusive: Richard Stallman, interviewed at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 11:24 AM EDT
There's an 'engineering' proposition that in order to be able to rely on
software (when it is at work on the public Internet), you have to be able to
revise it (in respect of it over-achieving, i.e. doing more than you had in mind
when you dreampt up its specification, such as 'displaying obnoxious pop-up
This is in flat contradiction to the 'legal' proposition that if you make an
unauthorised derivative of a copyright work, the commercial copyright of the
derivative work will be given by law to the owner of the work you derived from.
Not quite sure where it leads; but if it leads to the lawyers writing the
software, it will be more expensive and less reliable than letting the engineers
do it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Where DRM works
Authored by: WhiteFang on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 01:31 PM EDT
I've thought about Digital Restrictions Management for years ever since a number
of hardware proposals surfaced. Things like the V-chip, the proposal to include
DRM in hard drives and more.

The only place DRM is appropriate is "in house". Making DRM a
requirement of access on a third party is anti-social, anti-cultural etc. i.e.
The way that content providers want to control users and squeeze even more
revenue from users and artists alike.

On the other hand, in-house uses abound. As I've mentioned here before, I deal
with trade secret information. Since I was working with the entire set of items
this last week, I can tell you that we have well over 32,000 items requiring
restricted access. In addtion, different users require different levels of
access and all accesses need to be recorded.

In an example like this, the actual 'user' is the company and all access is
internal. DRM is not being applied to 'third parties'.

Currently, our Restrictions Management policies are based upon both security
level based digital access to the production data and analog
procedures/hardware. i.e. Printouts, manual log books, shredders and seperate
serial based network.

I would dearly love to have a Content Management System (CMS) with the stored
objects being encryption secured and with multiple keys permitting different
levels of access. And yes, that access would need to be verified against a
central server.

This is the _only_ type of use to which I think DRM should be put to.

DRM - Degrading, Repulsive, Meanspirited
'Nuff Said

[ Reply to This | # ]

Exclusive: Richard Stallman, interviewed at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 04:22 PM EDT
Way back in the mists of time (about 1984) the concensus was that the way forward was with closed source software as no one would buy source code that you could copy to your friends. RMS disagreed.

The real problem now is the Microsoft software monoculture. When 95% of the customer base use one OS, there is no particular incentive to support multiple platforms.

Why do hardware manufacturers use closed drivers? Ans: time and money: No need to publicly document you hardware, you can change specs on a whim without worrying about 'legacy' drivers (just patch the driver to match) and much of the work of the device can be handled in software. Include a flash ROM on the card with the firmware? Why bother when it can be downloaded from the host computer.

Imagine that there were a dozen competing hardware/software platforms sharing the PC market - with some dropping out and others appearing over time. You don't want to support a dozen drivers , but you want the biggest market share you can. Answer: adopt industry standard interfaces. Publish the interface specs. Make smart hardware that communicates with the computer at a higher level. Keep things backward compatible where possible.

Nothing will get better until the Microsoft monoculture can be broken - and the best hopes for that are currently Linux and Mac OS X. Both of these owe a significant debt, directly in the case of Linux, more indirectly (and possibly controveryially) in the case of OSX, to RMS and the FSF, but mainly Linux is there because Linus Torvalds managed the one thing that the FSF didn't - to get a usable OS off the ground and running on a wide range of hardware with oodles of drivers.

So RMS still deserves massive kudos (and its good that someone is saying the things he says), but when LT and others say that the GPL3 will be problematical for Linux, people should also listen. If Linux, OS X and *BSD, ReactOS etc. succeed, and fragment the OS market then commercial pressures should reduce the closed driver problem. If they don't - because, e.g. your graphics and wireless cards need blobs and the GPL 3 says "non", everyone is NOT going to flock to HURD - they will just learn to stop worrying and love the bomb ^H^H^H^H windows.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Exclusive: Richard Stallman, interviewed at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 05:55 PM EDT
How hot can the oil be to boil SCO for distributing GPL'ed software while
ignoring the terms thereof???

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL 3 release
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 06:58 PM EDT
Does anybody have an estimate as to when the GPL 3 final version will be
released ? I am developing GPL software, and I am very much looking forward to
switching to the new license version.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Audacity?
Authored by: Altair_IV on Monday, June 26 2006 @ 01:58 AM EDT
I've been seeing you recommend audacity to play .oggs and such for a while now,
and I really must ask why. Certainly audacity is a really good sound *editor*,
but as a player it's clunky and awkward. For one thing, it doesn't play
compressed media files directly, it imports them into .wav format for editing,
something that can be annoyingly slow and memory-hogging with large files. It
also doesn't have any playlisting or other media management features. Yes, you
can use it for playback, but it's total overkill for that purpose.

If all you need is to listen to a file then there are many more appropriate
applications available, on all platforms. On Windows you can use Winamp, Media
Player Classic, or dozens of others. Linux likewise has xmms, mplayer, totem,
and many more. And I'm sure Macs have just as good a selection, including many
of the same ones as Linux.

If we're going to recommend software, shouldn't we at least offer something
appropriate for the task at hand?

Monsters from the id!!
m(_ _)m

[ Reply to This | # ]

Exclusive: Richard Stallman, interviewed at GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 26 2006 @ 07:34 AM EDT
OK. Now, what do you think the community can do about the practice of bundling binary or proprietary drivers, such as Linspire does? What do you think about the,....

This is from olitics/kmodsGPL.htm

[David Lynch] But unless you are an intellectual property attorney or the author of the GPL you would not qualify as an expert on what licenses mean. [/quote]

TRUE. This won't stop me offering opinions though.

[David Lynch] I suspect that RMS would disagree with you on a number of points,.... [/quote]

Possible, but Stallman sees no (legal) problem with including closed source kernel modules.

[Richard Stallman] So what did Sun actually do? It allowed more convenient redistribution of the binaries of its Java platform. With this change, GNU/Linux distros CAN INCLUDE the non-free Sun Java platform, just as some now include the non-free nVidia driver. But they do so only at the cost of being non-free. [/quote]

So Richard Stallman sees exactly no legal violation of the GPL. Clearly including the nVidia driver makes the collection non-free, but NOT illegal.

[David Lynch] Further, whether it violates the letter of the GPL it violates the spirit. Nvidia or any other vendor is perfectly entitled to support or not support Linux. But they are not entitled to violate the license of the OS to do so. [/quote]

Nvidia and ATI etc, DO NOT VIOLATE THE GPL,.... they do not even violate it in spirit,... you are free to use proprietary software if you wish.

[David Lynch] The principle behind the GPL is NOT that all software must be Open Source. But it is that if you build on GPL'd software then your software must be GPL'd also - there is no free ride for properitary software. [/quote]

Yes, I agree. There is a little looseness in the phrase "building on GPL'd software". I take it to mean that it must not incorporate, or be derived from, GPL'd code, without its code also being released (code that is derived from GPL'd code, but has been significantly changed, is a problem that one can't do much about).

Linking to independently written code is not considered building on GPL'd code. For example, every single binary (apart from the kernel itself) links to the kernel. Every single binary repeatedly calls the kernel to regulate communication with the hardware, etc. This type of linking of open or CLOSED SOURCE binaries to the GPL'd kernel is fine and no one (who has a clue) claims otherwise.

Using Linux kernel-header-files is NOT considered stealing GPL'd code. These are the instruction files, telling a program how it should link to the kernel. It is vital that all programs (proprietary or free) talk, or link, to the kernel in this way.

For example, when Adobe Acrobat Reader is compiled for Windows it uses Windows-header-files to establish the necessary linkage to the Windows kernel. This linkage to the Windows kernel does not imply that Adobe Acrobat Reader is violating Microsoft's copyright, or licenses, any more than Adobe Acrobat Reader violates the GPL when it compiles against Linux-kernel-header-files in order to communicate with the Linux kernel.

The Linux kernel interface is absolutely necessary for programs to talk, or link, to the kernel. A program that cannot link to the kernel is clearly totally worthless.

Linux people are demanding that Microsoft open up its APIS, etc, it would not make sense to make it illegal to use the Linux equivalent.

[David Lynch] The LGPL exists for those situations where it was deemed valid to allow proprietary software to use resources provided by Free Software. [/quote]

Every piece of software (proprietary or free) uses the Free Software resource known as the Linux kernel. So the LGPL is not for the purpose you claim.

Every Linux system links to the CLOSED SOURCE BIOS software on your computers motherboard. By the way, do you see the use of this closed source BIOS as a moral issue? Will you be scrapping your computer and looking for a new one with open source firmware?

[David Lynch] Your source examples are just exactly that - they describe how other Open Source Modules can be incorporated into the Kernel without necessarily being released under the GPL - but it still requires a source distribution. [/quote]

Actually, they are meant to describe how CLOSED SOURCE modules can be incorporated with the Kernel without necessarily being released under the GPL. Something like the way that the closed source BIOS is linked into every Linux system (with hardly anyone complaining).

[David Lynch] Further, the GPL has NEVER prohibited developing proprietary solutions using GPL'd resources. What it prohibits is distributing them. [/quote]

As mentioned above, it is fine to USE GPL'd resources, as long as you do not incorporate/steal GPL'd code (whether you distribute it or not).

[David Lynch] Finally all this and more has been debated on LKML for a long time. [/quote]

Maybe, but such discussion is diffuse and because there are so many different opinions people often leave as confused as they were at the beginning. The LKML is not a good venue for such discussion.

I signed up for the forum at, published once and was not allowed to publish again, but I guess that is another story.

[David Lynch] There may not be an absolute consensus, but the normal view of Linux Kernel developers is this violates their intentions. Facilities have been added to the Kernel to explicity prohibit this and many other similar scenarios, and those features are gradually being enabled. [/quote]

Do you really have a clue as to how Linux Kernel developers think? Why does it violate their intentions? What are their intentions? Are you assuming they all think like you?

[David Lynch] You are correct that it does not appear to be absolutely clear in the strictest legal sense that the GPL prohibits this. But there is no doubt the spirit of the GPL does, nor is there any doubt that Linux has gone to a fair amount of trouble to make exactly this difficult and will continue to do so. [/quote]

Whether one thinks it is against the spirit of the GPL, or not, depends on what they believe the intent of the writers (Stallman etc) was, not on the legal situation. This is clearly subjective and no one can accurately guess the intention of all the writers. One cannot even accurately guess Stallman's intent, although one assumes one has a reasonable idea.

[David Lynch] But there is no doubt the spirit of the GPL does, nor is there any doubt that Linux has gone to a fair amount of trouble to make exactly this difficult [/quote]

You might be surprised to learn that it is not "Linux" that has gone to a fair amount of trouble to make this difficult.

The spirit of the GPL is irrelevant. The GPL is a legal document, not a piece of poetry.

Legally, the GPL allows one to use closed source modules, so one should use them whenever useful.

Remember, if Linux is easier to use, more people will use it, more developers will use and code for it, more GPL'd software will be produced.

Conversely, if Linux is harder to use, less people will use it, less developers will use and code for it, less GPL'd software will be produced.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Actions speak louder than words
Authored by: mister on Monday, June 26 2006 @ 10:45 AM EDT
Richard Stallman also backs what he says with action. The Free Software Foundation has launched the anti-DRM campaign They have already targeted Microsoft, Apple and the RIAA. They have 4,500 activists joined up to take direct action. If you agree with Richard I suggest you join in the next action

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reason for dropping MP3 support is a lie.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 27 2006 @ 07:31 AM EDT
From the main article:

"You might find this information about MP3s ( ew/200/29/) of interest."

And the following information may be of even more interest:

You might wonder why these distributions decided not to include mp3 support...... The reason is simple. It has to do with patents. MP3 is a compression technology which technique/algorithm was patented by its creators."

The above statement is a quote from the article.

The above statement is a LIE.

It can clearly been seen to be a lie by considering what it would cost these distributions to include mp3 support.

Well the answer is: NOT VERY MUCH.

First, MP3 support is free for free software.

If a company sells a product including MP3 software decoders, the royalty to be paid is:

A ONE-OFF payment of $50,000 per software decoder, see:

If the cost of say, ten different decoders, eg Amarok, RealPlayer, xmms, mpg123, lame, etc,... is averaged over 5 years and the distributor sells 100,000 copies of the product a year, then this would add exactly ONE dollar to the price of the product.

In this business, this is essentially NOTHING, and the entire cost would be borne by the end-user (as usual) anyway.

So, we can see that the claim that the removing MP3 support from Linux is due to patents, is simply a LIE.

Again: It is clear that the stated reason for the removal of MP3 support from Linux, is a LIE.

Interestingly enough, does not allow comment that disagrees with the LIE it is spreading.

Jade @

[ Reply to This | # ]

Audacity? Get real...
Authored by: TerryH on Thursday, June 29 2006 @ 07:34 PM EDT
Audacity is a great sound editor, but it's really overkill for just listening to
Ogg files. Just use XMMS, or ... just about anything else hanging off the
Multimedia menu. Of course, XMMS has the interesting distinction of being THE
most Coverity-scanned 'bug free' application tested -- so that ought to count
for something. ;-)

This assumes of course that you are using Gnome or KDE on GNU/Linux.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
Comments are owned by the individual posters.

PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )