Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
Posted Sep 24, 2006 16:21 UTC (Sun) by jejb
In reply to: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
Parent article: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
To respond to the patents statement: it was definitely the part that garnered the least agreement, so as the document goes, it's probably least representative of the global kernel community view. That said, it wasn't phrased to make any judgements about software patents. What it said was that the current patent clauses in GPLv3 could be seen by corporations as a deterrent to distribution of GPLv3 software. It's this deterrent effect that is called out as the bad thing. If it comes to a patent war over Linux, we won't entirely be relying on OSDL ... we'll also be relying on OIN and the patent portfolios of several other large Linux contributors.
On DRM ... and really, I'm getting a little tired of these muddled issues here, so let me try to separate them.
1. The Tivo case: What Tivo did (making the boot loader only accept signed kernels) was at the behest of its content providers. If GPLv3 had been in force when this came along, the stark choice would have been go out of business now; or go out of business while trying to replace the entire OS.
Firstly, the proposed changes would have affected and probably killed Tivo, but done nothing whatever to impact the people who forced the change: the content providers. It's like treating a symptom, not curing the disease
Secondly, to consider the idea that companies in this position don't give anything back lets use the example of a Tivo competitor here: Moxi (also subject to the same lock down rules by the same content providers). It's produced by a company called Digeo who, by my possibly inaccurate count provided us with several driver enhancements, some nice filesystem work and a kernel maintainer, all under the old GPLv2. Please explain the inequity here.
Finally, embedded Linux in systems as firmware is an end use by the manufacturer. It's also getting embedded further and further away from the user. The GPLv3 introduces a new requirement that wherever these uses of Linux are, you have to be able to find them and modify them ... this represents dictating to the manufacturers how they build systems. It doesn't just affect deliberate things like keyed boot loaders; it also affects people who, because they didn't think about it, didn't provide such a modification channel. This is why it alters the equation: hardware manufacturers must feed this in now as a design requirement. That's what I don't think should be in the licence.
2. All of this is a proxy battle for the real war which is the content providers who're trying to dictate the rules in the first place---and they're doing it purely because they're too stupid to find a new business model, but have the cash to try to buy one. The technological challenges in delivering a copy protected stream all the way from the media to the screen are daunting; and expensive, which is why the manufacturers keep telling the content providers to bog off purely on business grounds. The content providers won't take no for an answer and are now trying to force this by leveraging both their assets (the content) and their money (by lobbying for legal measures). Attacking the manufacturers, who are natural allies in the fight against this type of DRM on business grounds, isn't going to budge the content providers one whit, and might end up diluting the opposition to them by fragmenting it.
Linux in fifteen years? Well ... as long as we maintain the innovation stream, I don't see why not, which is why GPLv3 gets considered on the grounds of its potential impact to that innovation stream.
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