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Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 02:01 PM EDT

Eben Moglen has issued a statement on the controversy Linus and the kernel developers have created, "A Renewed Invitation to the Kernel Developers". I reproduce it in full.


A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
by Eben Moglen

In view of recent statements by developers of the Linux kernel, and the response by the Free Software Foundation, I would like to offer my personal views as the chief mediator in the GPLv3 process.

To begin with, I welcome the current expressions of opinion by kernel developers. As I have repeatedly said in private communications, and will now say again publicly, I will gladly take any steps possible to include the kernel developers in the ongoing discussion process. I invite them to represent themselves in any way they choose, and pledge to work with them to create, even at this late date, a form of participation in the deliberations about GPLv3 that would reflect their preferred means of work, and be appropriate to their position in the community of developers.

I appreciate the positions taken publicly by the kernel developers. To be clear, the process of deliberation in which FSF and everyone else has been engaged since January is not only a process of taking positions. It also involves listening to the positions others have taken: itís the effect of listening as well as talking that gives deliberative democracy its effectiveness as well as its legitimacy.

I have been doing a job this year, on behalf of the Free Software Foundation as a client of the Software Freedom Law Center. In this time, I have watched hundreds of serious-minded and busy people take time to listen to one anotherís needs, to explain their principles, to deliberate on the arrangements that affect their lives. For my colleagues and fellow citizens who develop the Linux kernel, I have nothing but respect. I ask them please to join the conversation that is going on, to listen to others whose views may not be theirs, and to help the community make the best possible choices about matters of deep common concern.


Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers | 867 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Authored by: jjs on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 02:11 PM EDT
Put corrections here.


(Note IANAL, I don't play one on TV, etc, consult a practicing attorney, etc,

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off-Topic Thread
Authored by: jjs on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 02:13 PM EDT
Put off-topic postings here. Remember to make links clickable, per the
directions on the "Post a Comment" site. Example: <a
href="">example link</a>


(Note IANAL, I don't play one on TV, etc, consult a practicing attorney, etc,

[ Reply to This | # ]

Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 02:15 PM EDT

Three bucks says Linus' response to this will have at least
three occurences of the word 'fundamental'.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 02:36 PM EDT

Thanks to SCO we here at Groklaw are trained in reading laywers writing and
weasel words. PJ, thank you for educating us.

What I'm missing in Eben's writing is expressing willingness to listen to the
kernel developers. He asks them to participate and to listen to other views, but
is not saying that he/they will listen to them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Views on the GPLv3 hoo-har
Authored by: eamacnaghten on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 02:50 PM EDT
Please excuse the blatant plug, but I have just written a blog entry on the subject entitled Views on the GPLv3 hoo-har and I think it may be relevant to this discussion.

Web Sig: Eddy Currents

[ Reply to This | # ]

Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: gbl on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 02:55 PM EDT
The various open/free advocates have to come to a compromise and stop acting like tempermental toddlers.

The customers do not care one jot about the various kinds of open/free and every minute lost to arguments is a minute lost to promoting the idea that the customer should own the code that they depend on.

There is an argument going on right now between Debian and Mozilla about Firefox branding. Every erg expended in the argument is one less spent in reducing the dominance of Internet Explorer.

It seems to me that a lot of people have forgotten who the real enemy is. What Microsoft really loves is an argument between various open/free advocates over who is the most pure.

I've been an advocate of Linux and open applications for years and have even contributed a few pages of code over that time but the current lack of focus on development is the worst I've ever seen.

As for GPL3, I don't understand the implications well enough to offer any opinion. I do think that patents (hardware especially despite the current fashion for software patents) are the next battlefield and if GPL2 is weak in that area there has to be a change. But, if we are not producing open hardware it will be necessary to work with what others sell. There is no point crying that Zune is a DRM infected closed hardware without producing something that is open on both the software, hardware and media levels. If half the energy used in arguing about the number of GPL licenses can fit on the head of a ping were expended on producing a media player that was both open and rewarded the artist for producing DRM-free material then we would have something worth shouting about.

If you love some code, set it free.

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPLv3 Debate Comparison?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 03:21 PM EDT
I think it would be good idea to have the sort of legal analysis and comparison of the points of contention for the GPLv3 arguement in a manner similar to that which has been used to analyse the SCO case. The discussion so far has been difficult to follow because it has not really been a "debate". Each side has been framing the discussion in its own terms and not directly addressing the others points (at least not in a single easy to understand form).

I think that Groklaw would be a good forum to address the legal facts and arguements and to separate them from the often unstated political background. Does anyone else think this would be useful?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 03:28 PM EDT
"Linus has now said publicly
that only one of the GPL's 4 freedoms matter to him."

Link please.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"...controversy Linus and the kernel developers have created..."
Authored by: kitterma on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 03:42 PM EDT
I guess I don't read it that way.

Linus said he was refused a copy of the draft in advance of puclic release. I
have no idea if it's true or not, but I have no reason to doubt it.

There is plenty of disagreement to go around and to put it all on the kernel
developers seems to me a bit harsh.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Free speech
Authored by: DaveAtFraud on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 04:15 PM EDT
One problem that everyone who believes in free speech has to come to terms with is that other people will use that freedom to say things that are offensive to them. I see the GPLv3 broohawhaw over DRM as people who believe in free software having to come to terms with other people using that software in ways they disagree with and even find offensive. "Free as in speech" means just that.

I don't like DRM. It punishes the legitimate users for something they aren't doing. That being said, I'd rather people have a choice as to whether they can use a DRM enabled product than for me to take that choice away from them. I may disagree with what they are doing but they should be free to do as they wish.


Quietly implementing RFC 1925 wherever I go.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Been there, done that?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 04:42 PM EDT
Unix went down a long dark road for nearly 20 years -- and opened the door to
the boys in Redmond -- in no small measure due to tussles (and code forking)
amongst and betwixt the various (proprietary) Unix vendors.

Can't help but wonder if we are now to be treated to another round of the same.
Only this time, instead of dueling vendors and forked code, we have dueling
foundations and forked licenses.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What about Linus' "simplicity" argument?
Authored by: CraigV on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 04:54 PM EDT
I wish Moglen had addressed the points emphasized by Linus
- particularly the advantage of the simplicity of GPLv2.
If Moglen would have provide a direct reply to Linus'
arguments, that would have proven that he was, in fact,

As a scientist and programmer, I really value Linus'
simplicity argument. Moglen may not appreciate the scary
uncertainty that non-lawyers have when dealing with the
legal system. Too many consequences of law seem
inconsistent with rational thought. Hiring a lawyer for
clarification would a serious hit to my budget and I
wouldn't even be sure that the answer was correct.

PJ, perhaps you could address the "simplicity" argument
for Moglen and rms.

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL3 is Dead
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 04:56 PM EDT
GPL2 insures freedom for programmers. Programmers would have the
freedom of sharing the newest developments and can work together in a
project. They can use the work also in what manner they want. They can
create proprietary software to improve the marketability of their work. This
insures jobs and a marketplace. Each programmer has a chance of success in
their field.

GPL3 insures "freedom" for end users. Everything is non-proprietary.
has no protection. Everything in the computer is accessible. Programmers
cannot adapt the software for their own purposes, for example to protect
author's or creator's works. This insures that everything can be shared.
There is even the freedom to copy music or movies without having to pay for
it. It is nirvana for end users. It puts restrictions on what a programmer can

do to insure end user freedom.

The problem I see is that as a programmer, GPL3 has significant restrictions
and pitfalls. As a programmer, I would have less freedom with GPL3 than
GPL2. So why use it?

GPL2 has served Linux well. It is because of GPL2 that Linux has become
accepted not only by users and programmers but by businesses and
corporations. There are numerous softwares that also are distributed with
Linux which are GPL2. The GPL2 Linux is so flexible that companies can
develop appliances like TIVO which use Linux as the kernel. Linux also allows
the creators of books, music, and video to distribute their works without
worrying about theft - DRM is possible. GPL3 does not allow DRM.

GPL2 has made Linux a success. It has allowed the creation of an ecosphere
for Linux. GPL3 threatens to destroy this if it is adopted by Linux. Not just
threaten, however. It will destroy the ecosphere that has been created around
Linux. Linus understands GPL3's limitations as do the Linux kernel

GPL2 has also helped create the ecosphere around the Mac Operating System
and other flavors of Unix.

I think there is so much critical mass and momentum from GPL2 that it would
be impossible to break with it and create a successful GPL3 ecosphere.

For example, so long as Linux is GPL2, there is no reason to go GPL3. Doing
so would only leave the programmer out of GPL2 distributions and activities.

GPL3 as it is will remain a fringe license. A small market. Those that use it
will have "freedom" but only in the small pond they will live in,
rather than the
larger oceans teaming with other life.

GPL3 is dead before arrival.

Why even consider it - other than to argue?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Discussion of Linus' view
Authored by: dnl on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 05:07 PM EDT
Some discussion of Linus' view in this Newsforge article

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: MrCharon on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 05:10 PM EDT

I just read a message by Linus on the LKML that "as far as he knows" the GNU Hurd Kernel uses Linux code. Can anyone confirm that? That could create an interesting problem. Iíve been figuring anyone who just doesnít like that the Linux Kernel remaining GPLv2, could switch to GNU Hurd.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 05:30 PM EDT
"As I have repeatedly said in private communications, and will now say
again publicly, I will gladly take any steps possible to include the kernel
developers in the ongoing discussion process."

Maybe I'm just imagining things, but this statement sure implies to me that the
kernel devs were not previously included in "the ongoing discussion
process". At least not fully.

[ Reply to This | # ]

v2.0/3.0 differences from (this) programmer's perspective
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 06:39 PM EDT
This is a quite trollish (because that's the mood I'm
in this Saturday -- sorry) reply to a comment PJ made
a little up-thread, followed by my thoughts on v 3.0.

PJ said:

> (Moglen) is saying he will listen, but if they tell
> him to water down the GPL, he isn't likely to go along.

That's one definition of listening, I suppose.

> That really is the problem. Linus has now said publicly
> that only one of the GPL's 4 freedoms matter to him.
> I doubt that Moglen will go along with that. That
> doesn't mean he hasn't listened.

I missed that. Do you have a reference?

> It means Linus has a lot of nerve to even say something
> like that.

For the GPL 3.0 to help advance the FSF's aims, it must
be widely adopted by useful software projects. This
means that it must be "sold" to the developers. There
are traditionally two ways to sell things:

1) Have something that people really want (believe it
or not, a _lot_ of people wanted the GPL v 2.0); or

2) Be a great salesperson. The above comment is not
very saleslady like, so perhaps you will be fortunate
and your prospective customer Linus won't notice what
you're saying about him.

> That's my view. This is, in my opinion, the
> enterprise trying to take over or muscle the
> GPL.

Yes, that's Linus Torvalds -- corporate shill.

> I doubt they will succeed, but they do
> seem to be trying. Let them stay with
> v2 if they want. I don't care.

You put a lot of effort into disagreeing with their
decision for not caring.

> But to try to sink the GPLv3 ship if they can't
> have what they want is not right.

Has it occurred to you that good people could
rationally think the GPL 3 is a bad idea?

> The enterprise probably hated v2 and still do,
> if they had full choice, but it's too late.
> Too many programmers use it and they are stuck
> with it. But it was rms that designed the GPL
> and he had a purpose, and the purpose is one
> that the enterprise finds inconvenient to the
> bottom line.

Richard Stallman is a genius and the GPL v. 2.0
is the 14th or 15th wonder of the world. But this
doesn't make it a given that all his ideas are
wonderful. For example, consider William Shockley,
another genius who revolutionized the world with the
invention of the transistor. You probably use a few
billion of those a day, but that doesn't mean you have
to believe in eugenics.

> I am happy to see that Linus has modified his
> earlier statements and now says use the GPLv3
> if you want to. He is to be commended for that.
> The whole thing needs to be toned down, in my view,
> and I hope that attempt continues.

To some people (believe me, I know because I am one
of them), the draft GPL v. 3.0 is such a violent shock
to the system that it renders the victim incoherent,
unable to articulate rational thought on the subject
for, in some cases, months. It is only after the
realization that it doesn't have this effect on
everybody, and some further deep introspection, that
some of the victims can start to organize their
thoughts in a presentable fashion. Unfortunately,
this is sometimes too late, because the "true
believers" have already outed these vehement 3.0
disbelievers as being corporate shills or worse,
based on utterances issues prior to the point when
the disbelievers were finally able to cogently describe
what REALLY bothers them about the license.

At this point, even though the disbeliever still
disbelieves, he finally realizes that he has not
presented his position clearly, and also that there
are a LOT of people who he respects who have drunk
the Kool-Aid. The only useful tactic is to publicly
recognize that the other side isn't inherently evil,
and one good way for Linus to do this is to concede
that there may well be places where v 3.0 is appropriate.

I have yet to see such concessions about v 2.0 from the
3.0 camp, however.

> Obviously, Moglen is trying to work for a compromise
> solution, instead of firing back, "You're another" or
> something childish.

Stallman/Moglen aren't going to compromise. You said
as much at the top of your post. Linus isn't going to
compromise, either, because he believes (correctly IMO)
the new DRM/patent ideals incorporated in GPL 3.0 are
fundamentally wrong for many situations, including the

> Moglen is addressing here the issue that they are
> pretending they didn't get to participate or weren't
> listened to.

As others have written, Linus's version of "open" is
to discuss things via things like email lists, including
posting drafts on these lists as you go along. Things
like wikis are not at all the same, because you don't get
immediate notification of what changed or who changed it.

Heck, even the PROCESS of how the GPL would be developed
was developed in secret and then thrust on the world. It
didn't grow organically like the Linux kernel process.

So Linus has a point that the GPL has not AT ALL been
developed in anything like the fashion of the kernel or
most other major, successful, free software projects.
(Compare and contrast the traffic on the email list at
with that on any kernel development list.

> I know for a fact that they wanted Linus to participate,

Well, duh. I want Cindy Crawford to participate in my
sex life, too, but I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO OFFER HER,
and even if I did, I think I would need to bring her
flowers and carefully consider her preferred methods
of communications, else I might be considered a stalker.

> and while I read Linus now saying things like,
> "they know my email" I can tell you from personal,
> first hand participation that I stood on my head to
> get his participation and I know others did too. The
> problem was *never* that the FSF didn't want him to
> participate.

No, but the problem was that the FSF's process is tightly
controlled (that much is evident in an actual reading of
the process document) and designed to produce the best,
tightest possible license which makes it as difficult as
possible to use free software in conjunction with DRM or
with patents which are not freely licensable. I believe
that the process is actually succeeding at this, but I am
not convinced this is a worthy goal.


My thoughts on GPL v 3.0.

Please note that I don't think any of these thoughts are
original to me (although this writing is mine alone). As
I noted earlier, when I first saw v 3.0, my reaction was
so viscerally negative that it was a very long time before
I could articulate my thoughts.

So, I'm sure that all these thoughts are available elsewhere,
probably written better than I have managed, but I think they
need to be presented at the top of a GPL v 3.0 discussion
thread on Groklaw, so here goes my lame attempt.

At the top of this comment, I noted that for the GPL to help
advance the FSF's aims, it must be widely adopted by useful
software projects, and that a lot of people wanted version
2.0. This point seems to be frequently ignored, so I don't
think it can be overstated. Yes, a lot of CORPORATIONS
might have thought GPL v 2.0 was a bad idea, but a lot of
INDIVIDUALS thought it was a GREAT idea!.

The GPL is often couched in terms like "share and share
alike" or "the golden rule -- do unto others as you would
have them do unto you". Stallman is very enthusiastic
about promoting "rights" of the "user".

But, if you think about it, while "share and share alike"
and "the golden" rule may be fine principles to live by,
they are traditionally brought to you by the same religion
that teaches you to "turn the other cheek". In other words,
you should share, and you should treat others nicely, but
you should ignore transgressions. In other other words,
if you have some nice software you have written, and you
think others might like it, you could follow these principles
by using the BSD license!

(The same is true of many other arguments made to support
the GPL. For example "software is an intangible -- if you
give me a copy it doesn't make your copy work any less well"
could be turned around to "If I give TiVo a copy it doesn't
make my copy work any less well.")

If we look at the low-level motivations and urges that
drive real people (other than iconoclasts like Stallman)
to use the GPL, one motivation stands out: the desire
to not be taken advantage of. Let me quote from another
anonymous coward in a comment buried upstream:

"As a free software coder, I'd rather have businesses not
use my code than have it shipped as de-facto proprietary
software. I can get paid good money writing non-free code,
and if I wanted to be an unpaid employee of companies that
produce it, I'd have licensed my software under something
like the BSD. I didn't, and I find the weaseling that Tivo
does to evade its GPL obligations disgusting. AFAIK they
aren't distributing my software, but I would be pretty
annoyed if they were."

This is a very natural and understandable sentiment, and
IMO the desire to not be taken advantage of is the primary
motivator for programmers to put their software under the
GPL rather than a BSD license. It has nothing to do with
"user's rights" other than that the programmer is also
sometimes a user. Very few who writes free software think
of "real" end-users as freeloaders, even if they never
write a piece of code or file a bug report, and they make
a million bucks using Linux to run their business;
but somebody who makes my software better should share
those fixes with me no matter what, or they're a freeloader!!!

There are different ways to define "taking advantage."
Some developers might think that anybody who has figured
out how to make money off their software is taking advantage.
Others might feel, like the poster I quoted, that TIVO is
"taking advantage." Still others (like me) might feel that
if TiVO has to give back fixes and I can use them, they are
not taking advantage.

(Aside: how can I be taking advantage of an end-user
who doesn't even know me by not using the GPL on software
I release? Apparently, it's possible, according to

Why do I feel this way? TiVO could use QNX or embedded
Windows, and it might cost them a bit more per box in
royalties, but if TiVO found any problems in that OS, then
I, as a Linux user, would not get any benefit from that
find. OTOH, if TiVO finds and fixes (or pays someone to
fix) a problem in Linux, I benefit!

As pointed out by many others, there are many applications
where the application must (by law or legal agreements) support
non-user-controllable encryption. GPL 3.0 specifically forbids
its use in this case, e.g. "For instance, if the work is a DVD
player and can play certain DVDs, it must be possible for
modified versions to play those DVDs."

I personally think DRM is evil, but it is impossible to
manufacture a DVD player without agreeing to certain levels
of DRM. Nonetheless, I think it would be great if my DVD
player used Linux (and from what he's written, I think Linus
feels the same way).

Stallman feels that increasing marginal costs for TiVo and
DVD players will force them to either pay more for proprietary
stuff (which will all be passed on to the consumers), or to
free their designs (which isn't going to happen).

Personally, I think we should focus efforts on torpedoing the
DMCA, and then it doesn't really matter what kind of protection
the vendors TRY to impose on us -- I think it will mostly be
fixable by motivated hackers.

The issue of patents is more nuanced, but here I think something
clear and simple like the apache license's stance would be
preferable. The patent system is obviously not working very
well right now (unlike others I don't believe this is necessarily
fundamental, but is driven by the current incentive structure),
but if you look at the current catastrophic failures, there is
NOTHING that GPL 3.0 can do to prevent these. For example,
does anybody really think that NTP wants to distribute Linux?

As discussed previously, one of the motivations for using
GPL v2.0 is "I don't want to be taken advantage of", but
the primary motivation of writing free software in the
first place is the desire to write (and/or be recognized
for writing) useful stuff for other people. BSD and
apache are great licenses for those who just want to do
this; GPL v 2.0 is a great license for those who want to
do this but want to limit distribution to those who will
give back any fixes; and GPL v 3.0 is shaping up to be
a license which tries to "fix" DRM and patent law. As
another poser noted, this effort is probably doomed to
failure, but IF the FSF manages to get the balance right
on patents, I will admit that GPL 3.0 might serve as a
good prophylactic on these issues in some cases.

Some people (possibly including Stallman) think that
GPL v 2.0 "fixed" copyright, or used jujitsu on it or
something, but from a pragmatic perspective, that's not
really true. Although recent term extensions and the
DMCA are very broken, basic copyright law is not broken
(this is obviously just my opinion), and serves a useful
function very well. The genius of GPL v 2.0 is in using
basic copyright law for a non-financial quid pro quo bargain.

But this sort of bargain just might not work on patents.
A patent troll like NTP probably doesn't even want to
use, never mind distribute, free software, so how can
the GPL touch them?

Stallman and Moglen are free to do what they like with
GPL v 3.0, but if they actually want other people to USE
the license, they ought to consider what it would take to
make the license appealing to those people. (Apparently
Moglen has finally realized this, if his olive branch
is to be believed.)

I don't find its current incarnation appealing at all, because
it's more ambiguous and harder to understand than v2.0, it
can't possibly fix some of the things it purports to fix, and
it discourages the use of free software by companies like TiVo,
and possibly even other companies who may (rightly or wrongly)
think that the patent clauses will cause them grief.

-- PM

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not up to your usual standard PJ.
Authored by: rao on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 06:48 PM EDT

This is meant as constructive criticism and I hope that it is taken that way.

Usually when you make statements in your articles you back them up with facts or at least describe why you feel the way that you do. Here you make the statement:

... the controversy Linus and the kernel developers have created ...
with no background information at all.

I believe I have read all the previous articles and I have no idea where a statement like that is coming from. Perhaps if I had read all the comments to all the articles I would understand, but the volume of comments has risen over the years to the point where I find this impossible. I have to believe that this is true for most of the people who visit here.

Another example is in one of the comments to the article where you say:

It means Linus has a lot of nerve to even say something like that.
This sounds like you are saying that Linus is not entitled to hold an opinion that differs from RMS. This does not sound like you, but with only the information in the article and the other comments, I have been unable to come up with an alternative interpretation.

It may sound like it, but I am NOT trying to tell you how to run your blog. It is your blog and you can run it any way please. What I am trying to say is that over the last several years, through a lot of hard work, you have set a standard of quality here. In my opinion, this article does not come close to meeting that standard.

Let me just finish by saying that I am a fan of yours. I applaud you for all that you have done over the years and I hope that you keep up the good work.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: Jude on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 08:21 PM EDT
Here's my dumb questions for this article.

Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that GPL3 in its present draft form had
been finalized and available when Linux was first created, and Linus had chosen
GPL3 as his license. I think this would have forced Tivo to use a different OS
for their product, probably Windows or some other proprietary OS. Other
embedded OS devices might have also avoided Linux. If this had actually

1) Would it have helped the cause of Free (as in RMS) software?

2) Would it have helped Linux?

[ Reply to This | # ]

An edge case
Authored by: kralizec on Saturday, September 30 2006 @ 09:05 PM EDT
What I don't like of GPLv3 is that it mixes sotware and hardware. There are IMHO
several cases that I would like to see clarified, and an opinion on whether it
is a good or a bad thing:

1) Red Hat decides to make it's oun RedHatPC, which will be able to run only
code signed by Red Hat. However, Red Hat's code is still free to be run in a
generic PC. As I see this, Red Hat would be in violation of the GPL, and I don't
think it should.

2) TiVo makes a device which can run an unmodified but signed distribution
(think debian), and that only has a program enough to download it from a third
party site, which is potentially unaware of it, say and then
bootstraps from there (no so far fetched, actually debian has great tools for
this very kind of thing). Then both TiVo and Debian are clean (as TiVo doesn't
need to distribute any GPL'd code at all and Debian has no control over what
TiVo does, and shouldn't either). It's a loophole in the license, then.

3) TiVo decides to rent their devices, so the user has no actual right to mess
with them. No more need for keys, since every tamper is illegal. It's also OK
with the GPLv3, and is arguably worse than what we have now.

In my opinion, you are still free to make a TiVo clone and run TiVo's code, so
the code is as free for the user as ever.

I mean, I don't think all and every modification made by TiVo is to make linux
work in their hardware. Surely they have made more general improvements. They
are not only piggibacking on linux, I guess they are also contributing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why are you even bothering?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 02:12 AM EDT
I don't think that Linus and most of the other Kernel
Developers are going to take you up on this offer because,

1.They Don't think that DRM is intrinsically a bad idea,
just some applications of it. There are a lot of toxic
chemicals around, but you shouldn't be forced to drink

2. If it was a bad idea, the way to deal with is not with
the GPL.

I am not speaking for them you understand, just saying what
I take to be their attitude, it certainly is mine.

[ Reply to This | # ]

RMS is just wrong this time, and PJ is drinking the koolaid
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 06:33 AM EDT
I looked at the GPLv3.
It is too complicated for anybody to fully understand.
There are sure to be many unintended consequences, some of which hurt the
"good guys" (redhat, debian, etc), and some of which help the
"bad guys" (tivo, d-link, etc).

If GPLv3 is used, then I predict that it will significantly hurt the free
software community, as programmers spend more time worrying about licenses than
writing code.

And it won't be a one time distraction. Because of the complexity, frequent
changes will be needed to correct flaws in the license.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: zr on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 08:53 AM EDT
Aside from Linux Kernel, it would be interesting to see whether the GPL v3
debate is causing the widespread effect of developers choosing to omit the 'or
later' clause from fresh code. Among developers I know, this is the only
practical consequence of FSF disseminating drafts before attempting to gain
consensus on v3 scope.

I think we would all like to see the end to software patents and protection
against DRM abuse, and when GPL v3 is a done deal, we may consider switching or
forking. But the jinn is probably out of the bottle with respect to 'or later'.
Shame really and good if v3 could make it easier for us to consider re-inserting
that clause.

Don't follow leaders, watch the parkin' meters.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How the GPL3 prevents MS World DOmination.
Authored by: darkonc on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 10:02 AM EDT
Under the GPL2, If Microsoft can force hardware manufacturers to create hardware that only boots with code signed with a Microsoft private key, then they can now sell Linux and provide Linus with a read only copy of the kernel. If linus recompiles his code it won't run on any (new) Intel or AMD hardware because it's not signed by Microsoft.

Under the GPL3, Microsoft has to either provide Linus with the capability to boot a kernel signed by him, or not use Linux as a basis for their new OS.

The biggest problem with DRM is that the full nastiness of it isn't quite apparent .... yet.

Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Software developers?
Authored by: eviltwin on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 10:12 AM EDT
So far I haven't seen many posts from software developers but all of them that
I have seen side with Linus on this issue. I am a free software developer and I
agree completely with Linus' point of view. I do find it interesting that a
whole lot of lawyers and non-developers want to decide how the software that we
develop is licensed. Don't get me wrong, RMS and the FSF have done some really
good things but I think they're trying to break one of those good things at the
moment. I'm probably going to remove the "or later" clause from my
software license unless they fix the problems that Linus and the kernel
developers have pointed out.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: darkonc on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 10:16 AM EDT
The purpose of the GPL3 'tivo' clause is to prevent the proprietization of software by hardware means.

It's like the biblical phrase

What good does it profit a man to own the whole world if he loses his soul
Similarly, what good does it do me to have the source code if I can't (meaningfully) compile or modify it.

Or, to put it another way, The GPL3 is intended to prevent the effective Darwinization of Linux.

Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Owning the world - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 11:45 AM EDT
GPL3 is Stillborn
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 11:35 AM EDT
Copyright law has changed since the GPL2 was written. However, the
changes protect the Data that copyright owners ultimately have the right to
control. If you don't like the DRM, then buy non-DRM music. Of course, you
may find that it isn't as high quality as DRM music. But such is life. Create

your own music, for that matter if you don't like DRM. Who in the world of
music and video, who makes a living from their works, would want the loss of
control over their work? Very few. You are left with amateurs and low quality

video - such as on You Tube.

Patents are both good and bad. Patents protect creative ideas for legitimate
inventors. Disabling patent protection hurts good guys - not just bad guys.
It is far better to change patent law than to disable patent protection.

GPL2 has too much momentum and contributors (including corporate
contributors). Linux has so much business and corporate contributions that
switching it to GPL3 will force the removal of these contributions since the
businesses involved will be mired in legal problems by the GPL3 license, and
will lose the protection of their own homegrown inventions.

For Linux to switch to GPL3 as it stands, it would require deconstructing
Linux and rebuilding it from scratch. It would then require everyone else who
contributed to a distribution to switch to GPL3 - with its legal perils. I just

don't see this happening, particularly with businesses and corporations.

GPL3 essentially needs a new operating system. I don't see this new
operating system becoming mainstream like Linux has become.

I thus see a GPL3 operating system as a niche product. Essentially stillborn.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 01:32 PM EDT
GPLv2: It ain't broke and doesn't need fixing.

GPLv3: Will be useful in some contexts, but destined to be a nitch license. Will
not become the successor to GPLv2.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Four Freedoms
Authored by: minkwe on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 03:34 PM EDT
Let's get one thing straight:

There has always been exactly 1 (one) spirit behind all GPL versions. This "spirit" can also be called the philosophy of the FSF. The errorneous idea has been floated around that the FSF is changing things from GPL v.2 to GPL v.3. That is not the case.

All that is happening is that the GPL is evolving to better reflect the philosophy of the FSF that has never changed. It just so happens that some of those disagreeing with the FSF, suddenly realized that they were never in agreement with "spirit" of the GPL.

Here is the "spirit" of the GPL, as laid out on the FSF website. It has been there since the inception of the FSF. It hasn't changed.

We maintain this free software definition to show clearly what must be true about a particular software program for it to be considered free software.

``Free software'' is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of ``free'' as in ``free speech,'' not as in ``free beer.''

Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kinds of freedom, for the users of the software:

* The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
* The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
* The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
* The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
A program is free software if users have all of these freedoms.

"Corporate views on IP law might be described as similar to a 2-year-old's concept of who gets to play with all the toys regardless of who brought them" -- PJ

[ Reply to This | # ]

who goes to the mountain?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 05:14 PM EDT
does anyone else (i do) find it odd that the kernel devs are being criticized

(a) posting their opinions on their own site
(b) posting comments elsewhere
(c) invited to participate in the way they best choose

yet neither PJ nor Moglen have, afaik, chosen to join the discussion *there*?

to my read, Moglen hasn't even commented here ... (yet?)

when i had a sales job, i went TO my customers ... i didn't simply complain that
'my door's open' and 'they're welcome to come to me'

[ Reply to This | # ]

Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 08:29 PM EDT
I agree. let us not forget it is the corporations (Novell and IBM) that are
carrying the water on this fight with SCO.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Letter to Eben Moglen
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 10:41 PM EDT

As an outside observer to the negotiations over GPLv3 and the resistance in some quarters to its adoption, I think it is apparent that people do not typically act against their own interests. Free software is an end unto itself for the FSF and some other idealists, but it is not so with others. What has been established is a compromise position, an ecosystem founded upon the GPLv2 and the businesses that make money and support developers. It does not matter if the participants began as idealists, they have made a living and should not be asked to support what would disadvantage their own families today.

Let the Linux kernel and its developers, the companies that employ many of them, and the businesses that are their customers (for the average poor college student is not the one who pays the bills) have their operating system based on their own principles on which they have built an economy, even if those principles were once synonymous with your own and are based upon the GPLv2 itself.

Build a new software ecosystem using GPLv3 atop of HURD, and make that the next wave.

Crosspost from Cannablo g.

[ Reply to This | # ]

software patents vs drm
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 10:55 PM EDT
I understand a patent is a legal monopoly granted by the government for a
limited time frame, so that the holder of the patent can enjoy the benefits of
the patent. Enjoy the fruits of their labor, so to speak.

My understanding of DRM is a privately constructed, perpetual monopoly,
unanswerable to copyright law and fair use.

Very important function that can not be forgotten.

Any one arguing needs to look beyond the glass bubble, especially if they have

I personally am looking forward to seeing Mickey Mouse expire into public

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Bugs in GPLv2
Authored by: SilverWave on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 11:02 PM EDT
Can we clear up some of this confusion?

This clarified the Debate for me.
Note: I have a lot of respect for LT but I think this article points out the
bugs in the GPLv2 that need fixing.

Can we clear up some of this confusion?
Submitted by Freeman (not verified) on Sun, 2006-10-01 12:22.

It's clear that we're having a great difficulty discussing this issue rationally
due to confusion of the issues. Glyn is trying valiantly to steer the
conversation toward more productive areas of conflicting opinion, but others
(well-meaning, I'm sure) keep repeating the same arguments that have no legal or
moral/ethical foundation, drawing the conversation away from the big picture.
I'm going to attempt for the last time to dispense with some of these arguments
once and for all (because I really like banging my head against the wall) and
paint the big picture in a way hopefully everyone can better understand than my
previous pathetic attempts.

First, some background on the legal and moral foundation of the GPL. The GPL's
legal foundation is copyright law. Copyright law says that for the term of the
copyright, the author of a work has the exclusive right to control the
distribution of that work and derivative works. The GPL's moral foundation
recognizes the author's exlusive rights and gives the author a mechanism for
granting distribution rights to his work and all derivative works to each
recipient, with the stated goal of insuring that every end user has the legal
right to modify the work to suit his unique needs and share the modified work
with everyone for the mutual benefit of all.

The idea that a software license has "no business" dictating how the
hardware works has no legal foundation in the context of this discussion. First,
the way the argument is worded confuses the issue. Software licenses have no
business at all, it's the author's business. Second, the GPL dictates the
conditions in which the author's work are allowed to be distributed, not how any
hardware works. Under copyright law, the author has the exlusive right to
dictate the conditions of distribution, not the self-appointed arbiters of which
conditions it is his "business" to dictate. This point exposes the
fact that the argument lacks moral foundation as well, because it rests upon the
false assumption that somebody other than the author has the moral authority to
grant himself more rights than the author by attempting to impose veto power
over the author's choice of conditions for distribution by declaring whether or
not it is the author's "business" to include a given condition for
distribution rights.

This brings up the "GPL doesn't need a bugfix" argument that I want to
address. First, let's dispense with the legals and morals. The GPL is the work
of the Free Software Foundation, they hold the copyright to it, and have clearly
declared the conditions in which they authorize the license to be applied. No
matter who else is excercising the right granted by the FSF to use the license
for their own works, or how many of them there are, or whether or not they
disagree with any provisions or proposed provisions, legally it is the FSF's
exclusive right to decide if the GPL needs a revision and what the language of
any new revision will be. They have also fulfilled any moral duty they might
have; despite their exclusive legal rights, they have graciously solicited
public comment on the proposed GPLv3, knowing full well the volume of
illegitimate flack and extremism labelling they could expect, and are giving
careful consideration to legitimate concerns. Given the hideously poor
signal-to-noise ratio in discussions between people whom one would hope would
know their facts and understand the GPL better (and I confess to generating some
of the noise without meaning to myself), they are showing a fantastic measure of
goodwill towards those expressing their concerns, and really should be commended
for that, no matter what any criticisms of the language of the proposed GPLv3
may be.

To proponents of Free Software, the "bug" in the BSD license is that
anyone can assert for themselves more rights to a work or it's derivative than
they grant to end users, including the original author. When, to use a
real-world example, Microsoft modifies some BSD networking-stack code for their
purposes and distributes it in binary-only form (or even if they do not modify
it but link it with other code before compiling, also, legally even if the
source code is available i.e. "shared source") under licensing terms
that do not allow modification and redistribution, they can legally assign to
themselves the exclusive right to distribute the original author's work in the
resulting form it takes. This defeats the purpose of any Free Software license,
as nobody but Microsoft, including the original author, can legally fix a bug in
the original code or modify it to work with their system on Microsoft's fork of
that code. Moreover, this situation allows a forked project to lock out anybody,
even the original author, from benefiting from any changes in the derivative
work. If shiny new features or important bug-fixes are added to a proprietary
fork, winning it popularity over the free project, and the changes are not made
legally available for use and distribution, the developers of the forked project
can effectively take over control of the project and alter it to their own
purposes at will (embrace-and-extend strategy). These results are hardly what
we'd call "freedom" for the Free Software developer or the end user
nor are they particularly conducive to the Open Source development process, as
evident in the "success" (read: popularity) of GNU/Linux over the

The proposed GPLv3 "bug-fix" addressing what has become known as (for
lack of a better term) the "Tivoization bug" is intended to close a
legal loophole that Tivo is currently exploiting (hence the term) and Microsoft
and others are prepared to exploit, which produces results identical to those of
the "BSD bug". The Tivo exploit works by signing the firmware
(embedded software, largely GPLv2-licensed) with a privately-held digital key
and uses a public key which only recognizes the private key's signature to
verify the signature. If the verification fails, the system will not execute the
code. Since the end user does not have access to the private key, he cannot sign
any modified software and therefore modifications are prevented from execution
within the software environment the GPL software is distributed in. Thus, Tivo
is excersizing more control over the execution of GPL software than it grants to
end-users, including the original authors of the code it distributes in the
device, and using that control to circumvent the purpose of the GPL, with
questionable legal and moral authority to do so. Like linking to non-free
software and only providing the source for the free part, linking a non-free key
to the execution of free software, even though the source for the free software
is made available, produces results identical to those the GPLv2 is designed to
prevent. As this process uses similar techniques and produces the same result as
linking to non-free software, the FSF treats it the same, basically saying in
the proposed GPLv3 that you can only link execution of the binaries to keys that
are made available to the end user, exactly like the GPLv2 requirement that you
can only link to software distributed under compliant terms.

There is nothing whatsoever to stop Microsoft or anyone else from exploiting
this "bug", as the technique is implemented in software whether or not
the keys/algorithms are embedded in firmware or application-specific integrated
circuits. Indeed, the "Trusted Computing" initiative specifies
hardware implementations (much harder for the end-user to circumvent than
firmware/software) specifically designed to implement these techniques and
Microsoft is very interested in the technology. The FSF is demonstrating their
experience and competence in crafting effective licensing conditions by building
on the success of the GPLv2, which has served us all well for decades, and their
wisdom and foresight by dealing with the issue now before Trusted Computing
becomes the norm. While the legality of Tivo's actions are questionable to some,
the FSF is also demonstrating wisdom in not trying to procecute any claims they
might have (assuming they have legal standing to make any claim) under the
GPLv2; given the confusion we see among GPLv2 advocates, a legal case would have
little chance of success in a jury trial.

Which brings me around to following Glyn's direction and putting the focus back
on the big-picture issues. As previously noted, the definition of
"success" is a point of apparent contention. Given my comments, it
should be clear that my opinion is that the FSF has competently demonstrated
their ability to achieve success in crafting effective Free Software licenses in
the past, and I think the vast majority of interested parties will agree with
the definition of success in that context. Linus and the rest of the Linux
kernel developers have also competently demonstrated their ability to achieve
success in the development and maintenance of a kernel which has proven
extremely useful in Free / Open Source Software operating system projects, and
on that definition of success I think we can agree. These two competent,
successful parties have acted in successful (if not harmonious) partnership with
each other to the mutual benefit of all. There is no reason that cannot
continue. I am confident these highly competent organizations can define a
mutually-agreeable partnership into the future, even if there is no agreement on
the GPLv3.

Forking is another legitimate issue of concern that has come up. As I hope I've
convincingly demonstrated, anyone can exploit the GPLv2 in a way that renders it
functionally equivalent to the BSD license (in effect, a "root
exploit") with the technical difference that any changes to the GPL source
code must be available. As long as they provide the source code and follow the
letter of the rest of the license, Microsoft can distribute digitally-signed
GPLv2 code right now (without using hardware-implemented techniques) as part of
a larger software environment which will not execute within the software
environment it was distributed in without access to the private key. Microsoft
has demonstrated competence in effectively exploiting the success of others
using embrace-and-extend techniques, so we shouldn't be surprised to see them
exploit GPL software in this way. As history bears witness, forked projects that
are all-proprietary (Unix's) or distributed freely under an exploitable license
(*BSD's) do not enjoy the "success" we all seem to be looking for to
the same degree as forked projects that are GPL-licensed (GNU/Linux

Viewing it from the Open Source development cycle perspective, forked
GPL-licensed projects are free to share "best practices and features"
among each other, providing the "bazaar-like" environment in which
Open Source development thrives. This produces very desirable results (wide
variety of distributions that are roughly compatible with each other, each with
it's own innovations to share with the community) and some that are less
desirable (incompatibilities that do exist between distributions), but these
results are normal and expected, and don't seem to be impeding the overall
success of GNU/Linux in the least.

Assuming the Linux kernel developers choose to excersize their right (which
nobody is denying) to continue to use GPLv2, to the extent a schism occurs, it
can be expected to be similar, but not as severe (since GPLv2 is not exploited
as easily as BSD), as the schism between BSD and GPLv2 licenses. As it is, GPL
projects can use BSD code, but BSD projects cannot distribute GPL code under BSD
conditions. After GPLv3, projects using the GPLv3 license can use GPLv2 code and
distribute it under GPLv3 without violating the terms of GPLv2, but GPLv2
projects that wish to distribute GPLv3 code under a GPLv2 license would not be
in compliance with all of the terms of the original GPLv3 code. Thus those who
risk the most if forking occurs are those who refuse to migrate to GPLv3.

I rest my case. I hope I've made it well, because if I spend one more minute on
this my wife is going to kill me!
The Great Software Schism

GPLv3: Eben Moglen explalined this well the new DRM clause just says that you
can't use technology to add restrictions that the licence doesn't allow.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Mixing of Hardware and Software
Authored by: kenryan on Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 11:59 PM EDT

I've been following the discussions here and on LKML for the last week or so, trying to make up my mind on where I stand.

I realized today that one thing that's bothering me is the talk of extending the license to hardware, rather than pure software - including DRM, keys, patents and mixing of code.

It is true that when gplv2 was written and when it was adopted by most projects, the dividing line between hardware and software was pretty bright. That distinction, however is eroding, and I think within 5 years at least high-end computing applications will freely intermingle hardware and software - with the help of FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) technology.

FPGAs have been around for many years, but the use of them for computing has been the domain of companies with unusually high computing requirements and unusually deep pockets. Designing an FPGA computing system took many months of effort by specialized FPGA designers (some, like myself, recycled IC designers).

The trend in FPGA design tools however is drastically increasing the efficiency and ease with which FPGA coprocessors can be designed. IMHO there is still a considerable distance to go, but it is inevitable that someday one of a compiler's "-O" or "-f" switches will cause code to target implementation in an FPGA rather than a stored-instruction processor.

These tools are also coming down in price. For under $100K you can get a compiler that will take code resembling C and divide it between your PC's CPU and an add-in FPGA board, with relatively little hardware expertise. That price will continue to fall, until someday that capability will be available in the freely-downloadable "starter kits" available from most FPGA vendors.

The concept started out as "Reconfigurable Computing". It's now being picked up by higher profile manufacturers (e.g. Cray ) and is coming out in a form more amenable to "everyday" workstations (e.g. FPGA in an Opteron socket).

What happens to a software-oriented license then? We have a situation where modification of the "software" effectively involves modifying the hardware itself.

Similarly, today you can use fairly straightforward and cheap FPGA design tools to implement a SOC (System On Chip). CPU, memory, ethernet, I/O, and all the supporting stuff can be put into a single relatively inexpensive device. (Most of these SOC design tools include Linux/uCLinux among the choices of OS to host on the SOC). Modifying code here can involve modifications to the processor itself (usually through an opcode extension interface). See here for an example.

SOC systems can even be assembled from freely available components (e.g. or can be purchased (e.g. Xilinx or Altera).

Very soon the GPL is going to need to explicitly consider hardware as well as software. In fact, I think it likely that copyright case law will also need to figure out how to cope with it!

In the case of the GPL, the parts I'm worried about are not so much the DRM stuff but the linking and derivative works concepts. In all of the examples I linked to above, when you specify some aspect of your code be implemented in FPGA hardware you infer vendor IP blocks, synthesis tool constructs, and so on. At first glance, you can draw parallels to software compiled with gcc and linking to glibc. However note that glibc (evidently) required the creation of the LGPL in order to allow or at least clarify the linking of proprietary code to these standard libraries. In SOC modules, as in glibc, there are system-dependent variations of the interfaces that must be considered when application code is written. LGPL made it explicit that the libraries can be used this way. With an application on a tailored SOC, you will be mixing proprietary "system libraries" with your application code - what is the result?

I can hear one response now: "don't do that then". I have some trouble with that response - I can see GPLed software easily getting shut out of engineering, scientific and high-performance computing markets because of the inability to coexist with proprietary parts (even well-documented parts which would otherwise be quite valuable) or at least the perception that mixing applications and Reconfigurable Computing systems is too legally hazardous. Either one could serve to unseat Linux and GPL-ed tools from one of their strongest markets.

I have begun to try to make comments via the FSF site; I'm still learning how to navigate it and just where to send a free-form comment. Which is one reason I'm "prototyping" my comments here - let some early holes get blown in them. :-)


plaintext URLs:

  • http://www.commsde
  • /
  • jsp?key=HW-SPAR3E-SK-US
  • /boards/unv-de2-board.html

(speaking only for myself, IANAL)

[ Reply to This | # ]

No More Tivos!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 02 2006 @ 02:06 AM EDT
I think too many people miss something when discussing Tivoisation: that we can
be left with a legal right to do something that technology (or technology + law)
makes impossible.

In that case, free software being "incompatible" with it only makes
sense--why should anyone make sure that others are free to enslave us? This
isn't a "freedom" anyone should protect it's an anti-freedom that
destroys the freedoms of others.

Will that prevent hardware makers from adding circuits to make sure that they
always have control over what I may do with my own devices? I sincerely hope
so! And it's not like the GPL v3 will become "unused"--some people
call it GNU/Linux because there's a whole toolchain that will get upgraded to
GPL v3, even if the kernel doesn't.

Besides, what hardware makers don't seem to realize is that there's a subset of
people out there who are incredibly hostile to anyone else taking (or retaining)
control over what are supposed to be their machines. And when we come across a
technical obstacle like that, we hack, rewire, defeat, disable, destroy,
sabotage, subvert, confuse, reimpliment, reverse engineer, nullify, modify, or
delete whatever it is that stands in our way. Worse, the stronger and more
pervasive the restrictions are, the more of us spring up ...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Upcoming fork of glibc?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 02 2006 @ 12:01 PM EDT
Or maybe not...

Are there any FSF-controlled libraries which a) aren't LGPL'd, and b) are
statically linked into the Linux kernel?

Glibc dynamically links into userspace apps; not sure what it's exact
relationhip is to the Linux kernel. But I could see the following happen:

1) Some library exists which is controlled by the FSF, and used by the Linux
2) A new version of said library is released under GPLv3, in such a way that it
may no longer be included in a GPLv2 program, such as the Linux kernel
3) The kernel developers fork the library off of the last GPLv2 version.

My suggestions in the matter:

1) Given the acrimony over the patent and DRM provision in the GPLv3; make them
optional. The Creative Commons license is a good example of a license with
options; authors can pick and choose the terms that suit them best.


2) Nothing prevents an author from releasing his work under a MODIFIED version
of the GPLv3, exluding either of the offending terms. The GPL itself is GPL'd,
so the FSF surely cannot object to someone distributing software under a
modified license (the FSF may be able to insist that such a modification be
called something other than the GPL).

At any rate, an interesting question for people to ponder:

Would you rather that your Tivo ran Microsoft Windows, and was a completely
closed system?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Enemy is not among us
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 02 2006 @ 07:57 PM EDT
I'm trying my best to follow this debate objectively, but for now, the only
thing I know for sure, is that in January 2007 the history of IT industry will
have a terrible acceleration..

In that period Microsoft will launch Vista, and with it they will be fighting
for their future, you can bet they will play all their cards, even the dirtiest,
in marketing, lobbing, and God only knows what else..
And right in the same time, FSF should have completed the works on GPLv3.

Now for all I've read here, I fear that this challenge will find us divided,
unprepared, lost in childish and useless debates about who is wrong and who is
right, while our opponents, the real ones, are not among us.
If this will happen, ALL of us will be guilty, all of us will be responsible of
the rebirth of that falling empire.

It's true, Open Source, and Free Software are two different communities, with
different aims, different logics, and also different competences.

But it's also true, that the best things we have produced have been made by the
cooperation, not the competition between the two communities. And for
cooperation I don't mean only technical exchanges, just think how many times the
developers of Open Source have been attacked by SCO & friends, and have
found their best defenders in FSF.

So I ask you, whatever is your position, don't look for the faults of the other
side, but please try focusing what can keep us united. We don't need a winner to
coronate, but a compromise that can enable all of us to cooperate peacefully.

This is not the time for pride or "races for the power", but for
wisdom, responsibility and maturity for persons who have the duty to defend more
than 20 years of hard work and efforts of thousands and thousands of people in
good faith from all around the world.

None could forgive us if we waste it now.

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The freedom to run the program, for any purpose
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 03 2006 @ 01:52 PM EDT
How does this stack up with the fact that I will not be able to run the program
for any purpose in v3?

To use the oft quoted Tivo example, they will not be able to run gplv3 code on
their boxes. Sure, they could change the way their boxes run, or change their
terms of service, but then, it's not "any purpose" any more is it?
It's The freedom to run the program, as long as you comply with the provisions,
which may include modification to hardware and/or services, for running this

Not exactly free.
To me GPLv3="You are free to say what you like, but only if you dress the
way I tell you, and hop on one leg while you are talking"

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Eben Moglen: A Renewed Invitation to Kernel Developers
Authored by: mhdk on Tuesday, October 03 2006 @ 02:40 PM EDT
I've registered, I posted as Anon earlier.

Quote: "What I did say was that in a sane world, giving someone limited
hardware along with the CD containing modified free software would not be more
'evil' than giving them no hardware at all. Offensive to people who hate
non-free things maybe, but not more evil. The requirement on the recipient is
the same either way if they want free hardware: they have to supply their own.
Supplying the limited hardware, at the very least, gives them an additional
option. They can use that limited hardware until and unless they do decide they
want or need some other hardware to do what they want."

The objectionable quality in the
non-free-hardware-that-uses-software-from-the-free-software-community situation
is that someone is benefitting from the use of the software whilst imposing a
non-free situation upon people. The objectionable part is not merely that they
are providing something non-free (hardware in this case) but they are doing so
with relative ease by using free software. If they created their non-free
hardware and went to the effort of writing their own software to make users
helpless then we can't do anything about that.

The whole point of the copyleft provision in the GPL is to prevent people using
the community's work as a means to make users helpless to solve their own
problems. As you probably know, in the case of the BSD licence, Microsoft can
take all the work and use it as part of a program that makes people helpless to
solve their own problems. Case in point: Use of the BSD TCP/IP stack becomes
part of Windows and if people have a problem with Windows then they have to beg
Microsoft to fix it; they cannot fix it themself. In the case of the Tivo, the
software is being use as part of something that makes users helpless to solve
their own problems with what they have purchased.

Let's look at it more broadly. There is a simple moral principle at work here.
Namely, that it is that is wrong to restrict the public unless it is necessary
in order to achieve a public benefit that would not otherwise be achieved. (and
the restriction should the minimum degree of burdon as is necessary to cause
this benefit)

When copyright was invented, it did not restrict the public as they had no
access to the tools that would make them capable of producing a copy of a book.
It operated in a way that imposed a restriction on publishers from printing
books and not paying authors for the privelege. This restriction ensured that
authors retained the incentive to write and the public benefitted from the
publication of the works.

More recently, the RIAA argue that all the restrictions on the public in terms
of DRM and the DMCA are necessary in order to retain this same kind of incentive
for musicians to make music. Maybe that simplifies their case somewhat but the
point is that they see the restrictions as necessary, whereas those who are
against DRM see the restrictions as unnecessary. The fact that there are now
businesses out there making money from non-DRM'd music, some of which can be
downloaded for free and yet musicians still make music and money from it, proves
that there is no absolute need for these restrictions. DRM is morally wrong
because the public can benefit from music without the need of any of these

Free Software proves that the usual proprietary restrictions are unnecessary in
order for the public to benefit from the creation of (some) software products.
Software still gets created in the complete absence of those restrictions; they
are unnecessary.

Many modern business models only work by creating dependency on the product
provider that only exists through the unnecessary (legally created) restriction
of the public. In some cases, this restriction on the public is entirely
artificial as the people have access to the tools that make them capable of
solving their own problems and being free of this artificial dependency on a

Anyway, I don't see how you can sit on the fence on this one. If you are against
DRM then you are against the unnecessary restrictions it imposes on the public.
The question is whether you want to support DRM or not support it. If you say
don't buy DRM'd or non-free things then that's like saying don't give your
support to those companies, and if you are against giving them your support
then you should be against letting them use the fruits of your labour in order
for them to unnecessarily restrict the public! Letting Tivo use the work of the
free software community, or being apolitical about it, is basically the same as
giving them your support in immoral restriction of the public!

We can't stop people doing the wrong thing (restricting the public) when they do
so entirely on the back of their own efforts, but we can and should stop helping
them do so with the product of a community that is against these practices in
the first place!

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A couple of questions...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 02:08 PM EDT
My understanding is that at least one version of the v3 draft allowed for
"Tivo-isation", in a way, if the GPL-ed code is installed in PROM. If
the PROM is soldered in, then there isn't a very practical way for _anyone_ to
upgrade the code, and so then this is okay?

Second, if the a "Tivo-like" company wanted to get around GPLv3,
another approach would be to lease the HW, similar to a cable-box, in which case
the ownership stays with the parent company, not the end user.

Is my understanding correct? The above two approaches are both within the
spirit and intent of GPLv3 and its goals?

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