Re: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
Posted Sep 23, 2006 6:00 UTC (Sat) by mingo
In reply to: Re: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
Parent article: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
(Disclaimer: as a Linux kernel contributor i voted and had input into the document.)
Agreed. One thing that made Linux so successful (over other GPL-licensed OS projects like Hurd): we do as little politics as possible. Even BSD OSs do more internal politics than the Linux kernel community. That is a fundamental strength that we must protect.
Is DRM evil? Yes and no - DRM is a tool and a tool can be used in good, in evil and in neutral ways, so the answer is: it depends. Such "it depends" moral scenarios we must avoid to "categorize" at all costs, because a forced, hard good/evil (no middle ground, no circumstances) definition written into the license inevitably opens Pandora's box. (The many existing iterations of the DRM section in existing GPLv3 drafts show how hard it is already to get it right to properly cover most of the existing, good FOSS projects.)
And there are more questions that need to be answered: is DRM used in support of the Bible good or evil? Is DRM used in support of Islam good or evil? Is DRM used in support of abortion good or evil? Is DRM used against abortion good or evil? Is DRM used in Pakistan's atomic bombs good or evil? Is DRM used in the USA's atomic bombs good or evil? Is DRM used to enforce movie producer's rights good or evil? Is DRM used to enforce the rights we have under the GPL good or evil?
Lets face it: some of these questions are really hard to answer, and the answer may very much depend on your political and religious viewpoint. Trying to tailor a license to the many moral viewpoints that do exist is futility, because there is no "middle ground" that everyone (or even the majority) would accept. Hence the only practical solution is, even if you dont subscribe to this concept: dont try to dictate the moral decisions of others.
Also, there is no real practical problem we are faced with. We are techies and as such we like to worry about DRM, patents, binary-only modules and alot of other things, but lets recognize that the GPLv2 already gives enough moral and legal background for people to build a community and great free software around - and people are already giving back much, much more to Linux and FOSS than the GPL forces us to do.
Where does the GPL force people to write documentation? Where does the GPL force people to support FOSS? Where does the GPL force people to write and improve FOSS to begin with? It does not. The GPL is only about keeping the source open, not about forcing our moral viewpoint on others. The moment we try to force people they will do less for FOSS, not more.
In fact, trying to dictate the morals of people, like the GPLv3 i believe does (by suggesting that DRM is fundamentally evil), can be considered immoral in itself. This might sound like nitpicking, but on a conceptual level it is a huge issue, and a license i subscribe to must be on the moral high ground to the last letter. Please think about it, we did that too.
Will there be leeches who only take and dont give back? Yes, of course, there always were and there always will be leeches. If leeching turns into outright abuse the GPLv2 has already been enforced to protect our fundamental interests. So we must be very careful to not let our natural worry to "fight" leeches get overboard and damage the very foundation our community is built upon: freedom and fairness.
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