GPLv2 or, at your option, any later version
Posted Oct 3, 2006 16:02 UTC (Tue) by mingo
In reply to: GPLv2 or, at your option, any later version
Parent article: Busy busy busybox
you need to remember that you guys aren't the only software project out
Oh absolutely! Two quick points:
Firstly, we "kernel guys" (which includes some exceptions, the kernel developer community is not homogenous regarding this topic - as it is rarely homogenous on any other topic to begin with ;-) are the nearest to the hardware (almost by definition), so we will be amongst the first ones who will feel the bad effects of the GPLv3 limiting hardware design. The FSF justification for the DRM language sounds nice and fine, i'd like the DVD monopoly to go away just as any other free software developer, but i also realize that:
- embedded manufacturers are /forced/ to use DRM most of the time by external factors (such as licensors of DVDs, licensors of pay-per-view content that people want, or licensors of GPS maps), so when they are faced the choice of removing DRM or removing Linux, they'll remove Linux. There's just no way we can win in this scenario, and the result is less freedom. Needless to say, i'm not happy about that angle.
- even accepting that we need to do something about DRM (and i dont think we /can/ do anything meaningful about DRM - hence we shouldnt even try, due to the clear danger of collateral damage) the FSF chose an awful solution to solve the DRM problem: they now propose to control works created independently of GPL-ed code (such as hardware), by creatively including portions of those works (certain "keys") in the definition of "Source Code", and thus forcing the release of such keys (or the ceasing of the use of such keys) when GPL-ed code is distributed together with that independent creative work (the hardware).
This sets a bad precedent because the GPLv2 never did this - the GPLv2 was very clear that our work is ours and your work is yours (as long as it's not based on our work). Trying to use distribution related legal powers to affect independent works is worthy of SCO and the MPAA, not of the free software community. It is also a material deviation from the spirit of the GPLv2. I find such a deviation from spirit and morals far more dangerous than any damage DRM could do to us.
Secondly, i believe most of the non-kernel free software projects are watching this from an armchair so to speak, without being directly involved in the issues around hardware.
While the current GPLv3 changes are mostly directed at the kernel (for example the Tivo bootloader checks the signature of the kernel it loads - not of userspace programs), but non-kernel projects could be affected by future versions of the GPL, come GPLv4 - and the precedent of compromising on the spirits of the GPLv2 and removing freedoms has already been done in the GPLv3, so it might be too late for you to object at the time of the GPLv4.
For example, would you be content with the GPLv4 requiring that only GPL-licensed code be distributed on a piece of hardware? As per the logic articulated in connection to the proposed GPLv3 changes, such extra restrictions of distribution freedoms are possible.
So if you see anyone suggest that we kernel developers are out there to compromise on freedoms it's the opposite: we are objecting against the GPLv3 restricting certain freedoms, and we are also objecting against certain measures on the grounds that the damage caused by those measures will be far larger than the supposed benefits they bring. Remember: if unfixed, the GPLv3 does not remove or impact DRM in any way, but it very much removes some of our freedoms!
Plus, i personally like some parts of the GPLv3: for example the patent language (but i also like the more robust formulation in other areas). So it's not all bad, but right now it's more bad than good in our opinion. That was expressed in the vote of the top kernel contributors too.
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