GPLv3 DRM clause
Posted Sep 23, 2006 15:33 UTC (Sat) by jeroen
In reply to: Re: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
Parent article: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
The whole DRM section is just a natural evolution of the GPL. But to understand that you've to look where the whole GPL is about. That's the freedom of the user.
To give an example: when I bought my wireless router that was running Linux I had the freedom to replace the firmware with my own version of Linux. I'm glad I was possible to do that, because now I've got nice set of iptables rules, QoS, etc. on it. But what if they suddenly decied that it is required that the firmware image was signed (like Tivo does)? Then I would be able to get the code, but I wouldn't be able to patch it and put it on my router. So they took away my freedom to run my own code on the router. This is what I consider immoral. It also clearly goes against the spirit of the GPL.
So what does the GPLv3 do against this? It requires that if you sell a device that requires a signature to upload firmware, the user should be able to generate that signature too, so that he is able to exercise his freedom to change the software running on his device. But this doesn't prevent a company that buys some of those devices to keep the signing keys in a safe place so that random employees can't flash the device with untested firmware or malicous people can't put a firmware with trojans on it. So the DRM functionality is still there, it just can't be used against the purchaser of the device.
If you have the opinion that users should have the right to fix bugs in their software, then you should actually like this clause. And even if you don't agree with that, I don't see any reason why you would have a problem with it. I haven't seen any arguments against it yet, except the bogus statement that you're forced to give away all your private keys.
I also didn't claim that the FSF isn't going against DRM. They clearly are, because they have the opinion that the tool itself is bad, and I agree with that (just like I think that tools like nuclear weapons are bad). But the GPLv3 itself isn't really going against DRM, only against the use of DRM to circumvent the GPL.
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