Licence text and fabs
Posted Oct 3, 2006 14:13 UTC (Tue) by mingo
In reply to: Licence text and fabs
Parent article: Busy busy busybox
The only problem comes if the manufacturer wants the ability to modify the software while denying this ability to users.
So how does this differ from the situation of old-fashioned ROMs that contain GPL-ed code? Do you get an EEPROM burner with every toaster that includes a ROM? Do you get free training to be able to use that burner? If the write pins of the ROM were burned out, but it's still easily replaceable by the manufacturer, do you get free ROM chips to replace them with? If the ROM is in a disposable cartridge that has some weird physical form factor, do you get free access to the cartridge manufacturing process, to be able to "modify" the ROM and produce new cartridges?
You dont, and it would be unreasonable to require that in a free software license. And the same is true for a "virtual ROM", which is easily upgradeable for the manufacturer but hard to upgrade for others.
What this new language in the GPLv3 does is what the GPL never did and never purported to do: it limits the ability of end users to use GPL-ed code. Yes, hardware makers are end users too, and the new GPLv3 language limits their end-use. This sets a far more dangerous precedent than any supposed dangers of the harder-to-tweak nature of the Tivo brings with itself. It shows to new contributors that our prior words cannot be trusted. The GPLv2 clearly says: end use is not limited in any way, shape or form. Now the GPLv3 tries to limit the ways in how hardware makers can use our binaries. That is an unacceptable change of the bargain to me. I dont care how inconvenient the Tivo is to us, we have no moral grounds to limit end-users. This was clear in the GPLv2.
In what way will you change the bargain next time around? Ask for samples of free hardware perhaps to make modification easier? Ask for specs and training and access to personell to make modification more convenient? Or, to make it really convenient for all of us, do you plan on asking for money in exchange of them being able to use all this wonderful free software? It would of course be "similar in spirit" to previous versions of the GPL, because without money to live how can anyone do the modifications to begin with? The 4 freedoms would be toothless if developers werent reimbursed for their efforts, right?
And no GPLv3-proponent so far was willing to answer this simple point: where is the moral line? Now that the GPLv3 starts limiting end-use, where will that limitation stop?
And as i said it before: there will always be freeloaders that only use our works and dont give back. /We cannot force them to give back/. Still the community and our users are giving back /a lot more/ than what the text of the license requires - because what drives this whole thing is not your paranoia to punish freeloaders, but the basic mechanism of getting modified source code back. Your vendetta against DRM will only turn away new contributors (and old contributors) alike. It already caused real damage within the community. (read the article you are commenting on.)
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