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Robert Gomez
Robert Gomez

Full __TOP__ FormIt 2006 [32-64Bit]

The recent discussions on the proposed version 3 of the GNU General PublicLicense have been well documented here and elsewhere. This proposal hasclearly exposed some differences of opinion within the developmentcommunity, with the anti-DRM provisions being at the core of the debate.The addition of these provisions has created a fair amount of ill willagainst the Free Software Foundation; opposition to them appears to havecreated similar feelings in the opposite direction.In theory, this disagreement should not come about. GPLv2 contains thefollowing language:9. The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. If the FSF is adhering to its part of this bargain, then anybody who boughtinto the "spirit" of GPLv2 should not have trouble with this revision. So,clearly, those who oppose the GPLv3 draft - many of whom have released vastamounts of code under GPLv2 - believe that the revisions are not "similar inspirit." Some have gone as far as to accuse the FSF of using its powerover the GPL to push its founder's radical agenda onto the code of largenumbers of unwilling developers.That accusation is probably over the top. The FSF is, with GPLv3,attempting to respond to a number of problems as it sees them. Softwarepatents are a clear problem, and the GPLv3 draft tries to mitigate thatproblem somewhat. International applicability of the license has not yetproved to be a problem in practice, but it is clearly something thatreasonable lawyers can worry about. It seems worth fixing the languagebefore some court somewhere on the planet decides that the GPLv2incantations only work in the US. And so on.The FSF also, clearly, sees locked-down systems as a problem. It isinteresting that this has not always been the case; back in 2000, LWN took issue with an interview withRichard Stallman, where he said:I'm less concerned with what happens with embedded systems than Iam with real computers. The real reason for this is the moralissues about software freedom are much more significant forcomputers that users see as a computer. And so I'm not reallyconcerned with what's running inside my microwave oven.(This interview has disappeared off the original site, but theWayback Machine has it).Most TiVo owners probably see their gadget as being more like a microwaveoven than a computer. It is not that TiVo has come along since then (the2000 LWN article mentions it); what has changed is the FSF's - or, at least,Richard Stallman's - position on it.There are few people who disagree with the idea that locked-down systemscan be a problem. Beyond the fact that such devices will always deny usersthe full potential of the hardware, they can spy on us, deny fair userights under copyright law, lock us out of our own data, prevent us fromfixing serious problems, and so on. Locked-down systems are designed toimplement the goals of somebody other than the ultimate owner of thedevice. Such systems are undesirable at best, and outright evil at theirworst.The disagreement is over how this problem should be addressed. The twosides, insofar as there are two clear sides, would appear to be these: The anti-DRM provisions are a licensing-based response to a legal and market problem. They prohibit legitimate uses of the technology (examples could be ensuring that certified software runs on voting machines or systems - like X-ray machines - which could hurt people if the wrong software is run) while failing to solve the real problem. These provisions are trivially circumvented by putting the software in ROM, do nothing about the DRM being incorporated into all aspects of computing systems, and would primarily result in Linux being replaced with proprietary software in the embedded market. These provisions are a new restriction on how the software can be used, and, thus, are not "similar in spirit" to GPLv2. The new provisions are needed to preserve the user's freedom to modify, rebuild, and replace the original software on devices that this user owns. Failure to provide encryption keys when the hardware requires them is a fundamental failure to live up to the moral requirements of using free software and, according to some, is already a violation of GPLv2. DRM is an evil which threatens to take away many of the freedoms we have worked so hard to assure for ourselves; it must be fought whenever possible and it certainly should not be supported by free software. The anti-DRM provisions simply reaffirm the freedoms we had thought the GPL already guaranteed to us, and, thus, they are very much "similar in spirit" to GPLv2.This logjam looks hard to break. Your editor, in his infinite humility,would like to offer a couple of suggestions, however: Reasonable people who believe in free software, and who have put much of their lives into the creation of that software, can support either of the two viewpoints above (or other viewpoints entirely). They are not (necessarily) free software fundamentalist radicals, corporate stooges, people on power trips, or any of those other mean and nasty things they have been called in recent times. We can discuss this issue without doubting each others' motives and without the need for personal attacks. The FSF clearly has some strong feelings about what it wants to achieve with this license revision, and there are issues it does not want to back down on. There have also been signs, however, that the FSF is listening more than it has in the creation of any other license. This process is not done yet, there is no GPLv3 at this time. Continued, polite participation in the process would seem to be called for.Finally, while your editor is standing on this nice soapbox... Theanti-DRM language was very appealing when it first came out. Your editordoes not much appreciate the idea of some vendor locking up his softwareand selling it back to him in a non-modifiable and potentially hostileform. It is a violation of the social contract (if not the legal license)under which the software was contributed. But the attempt to address thisproblem in GPLv3 carries a high risk of splitting the development communitywhile doing very little to solve the real problem. Dropping that languagecould help to bring the community back together behind the new license,leaving us united to fight DRM (and numerous other attacks on our freedom)in more effective ways. The FSF may want to consider whether, in the longrun, its goals would be better served by a license which lacks thislanguage. Such a license might be closer to the spirit which brought thiscommunity together in the first place. (Log in to post comments) Similar in spirit? Posted Oct 5, 2006 0:55 UTC (Thu) by Sombrio (guest, #26942) [Link]

FULL FormIt 2006 [32-64Bit]

I have a right to purchase a copy of a work, hold on to it for 95 years (or whatever the current limit is), and then make free use of that work in any way I choose. DRM curtails that right."No, it doesn't. At that point you are free to circumvent the DRM, because the work is no longer under copyright. Copyright does not require them to provide you with a copy when the copyright expires, it just bars you from making your own copy in the meantime. "I have a right to copy limited portions of a work still in copyright for use in a review or research. DRM curtails that right."Yes, you have a right to copy limited portions of a work. However, the copyright owner is NOT required to provide you with those portions. If you make a copy (say by videotaping a TV playback) to use in a review or research, that is not infringing. But there is nothing in the law that requires that you be able to copy such excerpts from a piece of licensed media that you own. "I have a right to privacy. Spyware embedded in a device sold for an entirely different purpose, which does not permit me to remove the spyware without damaging the device, curtails that right."Now that's a good argument. That's one to take to your representative and ask for legislation that specifically protects consumers against such reporting. It has, however, nothing specifically to do with DRM.I think DRM makes content less desirable. People should object to it and push back on the content owners to not use it, just as consumers once successfully marginalized copy protection on software. I wouldn't mind seeing a mandatory licensing law that barred DRM and required payment of a small royalty on blank media, as consumers and device manufacturers also once successfully demanded. I would also love to see the DMCA repealed.I just don't think the anti-DRM language in GPLv3 draft 2 will accomplish anything other than causing some amount of fracturing within the community. Similar in spirit? Posted Oct 5, 2006 16:40 UTC (Thu) by felixfix (subscriber, #242) [Link]

That worries me too, but I don't stay up thinking about it at night because I think things just look that way.The kernel community is one of the most visible and vocal parties when it actually has something to say in the public. And while the majority of the stakeholders in GPLv3 have been relatively quiet, preferring to work within the Free Software Foundation's open license drafting process, the kernel developers have limited their response to complaint, telling the press GPLv3 is wrong, telling the press FSF is wrong, drafting a document (thankfully some of them at least went this far, but they really ought to participate officially rather than lob press releases), and further complaint.It's no surprise to me that it appears as if we're split right down the middle. Anyone unhappy about the license is going to scream, but anyone pleased with it is going to sit back with a smile (think, Tux just got laid!)There seem to be a lot of people that are really happy with the way things are going. We still haven't reached agreement, but that's why further draft(s) are coming. Sun and Nokia, for example, are encouraged and predict even further improvement.The _real_ danger isn't from the GPLv3 license - it's from the GPLv3 license FUD. If you want to make sure we don't get split, focus on de-fusing emotional tension wherever you encounter it. Discuss the license but encourage real participation. And make sure that people realize that preemptive reactions to an unreleased license are absurd, especially if that stakeholder refuses to officially participate.Cheers! Similar in spirit? Posted Oct 6, 2006 14:37 UTC (Fri) by mingo (subscriber, #31122) [Link]


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