Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
Posted Sep 25, 2006 1:59 UTC (Mon) by lucychili
Parent article: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
Check out the Lessig keynote from LinuxWorld
In this speech Lessig explains about the implications of DRM on the stack from network, through computer hardware and software to user. I think it is this big picture issue which is the reason DRM is addressed in the draft of GPLv3.
I have done a customisation of the same model in order to explain to the Australian Attorney General about this issue as they work on a draft of our copyright act. If you want a copy I'll post it somewhere.
The problem is that DRM and TPM technological protection measures may not be interacted with. Developing things which interact with them can be deemed to be a felony at the whim of the owner of the product. All they have to do is 'find' a person to use a technological protection measure to infringe copyright and then the developer of the interfacing tool can be deemed a felon for making a circumvention device. This means people making new inventions and technologies which need to interact with hardware or software which is DRM can only do so with ongoing permission from the TPM company.
It will be important for the GPLv3 to help to clarify that free software is intended to be interacted with, and therefore that hardware which has either a direct or latent threat of felony lurking for people who develop interacting technologies are not a safe part of that technology stack.
At first glance it might be a concern for people who are developing on technologies which include these kinds of interfaces. I feel however that legally separating FLOSS from DRM is the only safe path for developers, who could easily be criminalised if the owner of the DRM technology is encouraged to undermine the foundations or interfaces on which a specific FLOSS resource is based.
While calling it frankly and making that a decision on our part might have initial costs with regard to interaction with existing technologies and hardware, I feel that for the security of FLOSS long term, so that developers can code safely without risk of being deemed a developer of an illegal product, this kind of clarification is the only safe path.
This also means that GPLv3 technologies would be safer for investors.
We will need open hardware at all levels of Lessig's stack, making this a clear decision means that companies can see that the benefits of free and open source software do depend on the ability for hardware and software to be available which is safe to use. Our governments need to understand this. Our communities need to understand the risks.
Some companies are likely to have some products where they leverage DRM
either against customers or competitors. This process will make it increasingly difficult for people to develop safely on proprietory systems.
For small or new independent proprietory businesses as well as for small or large FLOSS based organisations free interactive hardware will be vital. If we have critical mass of software, developers and users who think like this it makes it possible to vote with our feet. If we do not understand the risks and choose to develop code on unsure footing we will be compromised long term.
The LGPL is drafted for interfacing in mixed environments.
The GPL should be able to be trusted and used without risk.
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