2 days later, the answer
Posted Oct 8, 2006 14:42 UTC (Sun) by coriordan
In reply to: you are missing the whole point of the GPL!
Parent article: Similar in spirit?
It was a good question, and it took me two days to think of the answer, but here it is.
Tivoisation _could_ be a global catastrophy for free software. If, in the future, the majority of personal computers adopt tivoisation, free software will be failing FSF's goal of giving people freedom, and it will be failing the collabration-of-many-tinkerers goal of the anti-GPLv3 Linux hackers.
(The Tivo doesn't allow tinkering, so Linux gains the Tivo employees as collaborators but loses the Tivo owners. Tivo on its own is no catastrophy, but the widespread implementation of tivoisation could be.)
The Linux kernel developers who wrote the anti-GPLv3 doc have disregarded FSF's position that users of Tivos should be free to modify the software and run the modified version on their Tivo. Similarly, they can disregard the catastrophy scenario I mention. They can say it's unlikely and they can point to economic or engineering reasons for why they believe it is unlikely. But, it is possible, and if the situation changes and that scenario seems more likely, the Linux kernel developers (whoever they are at the future point in time when the situation changes, if it changes) and the free software community must have an escape route. They must have a way to raise a protection against the problem.
Being able to remove that extra permission at a later date is an essential escape route.
(Also, the nice thing about having an escape route is that it makes it less likely that an escape will have to be made. When a threat sees that escape is easy, they are less likely to mount an attack. This thinking was the basis of the "liberty or death" clause of GPLv2)
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