"Ours is Ours, Yours is Yours" is gone from the GPLv3 ...
Posted Oct 5, 2006 15:02 UTC (Thu) by mingo
In reply to: "Ours is Ours, Yours is Yours" is gone from the GPLv3 ...
Parent article: Similar in spirit?
Thanks for your comment. (Please read my reply in its entirety, even if you dont agree with sections of it, it's a complete whole and any counter-arguments should consider the totality of my opinion. Thanks!)
that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things.
The contention that this somehow turns into a "right to tweak the hardware" is false. The term "right to tweak" has been invented well after the GPLv2 was released, well after Linus released Linux under the GPLv2, and well after i chose to contribute under the GPLv2. I reject such a retroactive interpretation of a pretty clear license.
If you look at the plain language of the GPL sentence you cite above, it is a recitation of the exclusive rights authors have under the Copyright Act: the right to create and distribute copies, the right to modify and derive code.
See USC 17 / 106.
The "receive" stands for distribution, "change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs" means the exclusive right for modification and derivation. No-one in their right mind, neither i nor Linus ever understood that plain langugage to mean: "you have to allow to make binaries in ROM's modifiable". IMO that interpretation is often just wishful, revisionist thinking, possibly created by "oh what should we do about this DRM thing" thoughts.
But note that the section you cited talks about source code (i highlighted that in the quote above). Tivo gives out their modified kernel source code (a derivation of the kernel), and gives you the rights to use, modify and derive Tivo's added work freely. Tivo also gives you the right to distribute copies. Tivo completely lives up both to the moral and to the legal deal. What it does not give you is a totally separate piece of work: the hardware's keys.
(That is, by the way, also a conflict in the position of the FSF: for decades they insisted that the GPL is a license, not a contract. But only a contract can affect works that are not covered by copyright law! So what is the GPLv3 now, a license or a contract?)
The contention that DRM and using crypto keys to protect hardware integrity is somehow new is false too. Intel has been using DRM since ~1996, ever since they made their microcode uploadable. RMS has been using it probably every day in the past 10 years or so, and he probably didnt even realize it. Would you want to run CPU microcode "modified" by a friendly virus writer? What if the CPU is based on a GPL-ed work, such as:
this GPL-ed CPU design?
IMO this whole thing that to me appears to be a vendetta against DRM is largely misplaced and wastes our resources. And i'm asking, if it is this hard to make such a relatively simple issue understood by the FSF, if it's so easy to turn it into a nasty emotional and political issue, how will we be able to deal with more complex issues?
I believe that in the light of this debacle the only sane and morally correct solution would be for the FSF to voluntarily give up power (which power is quite similar to unilateral relicensing power over a huge codebase), and to remove the "or later" language from the default COPYING file. Leave it up for authors to explicitly chose this if they trust them on it. In fact: the FSF, just like Linus, should reject blanket authorizations of trust, like an open-ended "or later version" language. Dont let inertia and laziness drive an important decision like that. That way authors of new code can judge the licenses on their merits once they are released, and the FSF can release new licenses at a much faster pace. "Release early, release often" applies here too.
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