What I wish the kernel developers had actually come out and said
Posted Sep 23, 2006 4:25 UTC (Sat) by charris
In reply to: What I wish the kernel developers had actually come out and said
Parent article: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
What I find odd is that many are calling the more restrictive GPL v3 license freer. It isn't. I would put public domain at the top of the free pile, and certainly the BSD, Boost license, and MIT license rank higher in that regard than the GPL v2. Now, is that sort of unfettered freedom a good thing? I would say it depends. Science and mathematics, I think, belong in the public domain, and perhaps most tax funded projects. But what about free software?
I think it generally the case that in order for a group of people to cooperate for the general good there need to be restrictions, something that prevents some version of the tragedy of the commons. But I also feel these restrictions should be the minimum required to achieve the larger end. So, what is the larger end in this case? The kernel developers seem to have the position that the code should be available and that those who benefit and build upon it should contribute their additions back to the public pool. The GPL v2 seems to achieve this as measured by its success, so why use the more restrictive GPL v3? This argument appeals to me. The GPL also seems to aim at fighting a different battle, the DRM battle, that could be considered outside the narrow goals of the kernel. Such battles would draw the kernel into a larger war that would be a distraction from its technical aims.
I would add that after the DRM there will be something else, there always is. And in the long term, individuals themselves may want the ability to lock down their hardware as a matter of privacy. So this is not just about corporations, it is about having the means to keep other people out of your stuff. We may all wish for such means in the future, so let us not limit developments up front.
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