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Linux Kernel Developers' Position on GPLv3 395

Posted by Zonk
from the not-all-heart-shaped-penguins dept.
diegocgteleline.es writes "A group of 29 Linux kernel developers have recently come together and produced a position statement on GPLv3 (PDF, txt) explaining why, essentially, they don't like it. 'The three key objections noted in section 5 are individually and collectively sufficient reason for us to reject the current license proposal ... we foresee the release of GPLv3 portends the Balkanization of the entire Open Source Universe upon which we rely'. They've also run a GPLv3 poll."
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Linux Kernel Developers' Position on GPLv3

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  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Friday September 22, 2006 @02:40PM (#16162424) Homepage
    • Linus Torvalds
    • Alan Cox

    Anybody else?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by InsaneGeek (175763)
      Looks at list of kernel developers from the poll result link...

      #1 Linux Torvalds gives the v3 draft a -2.5 (somewhere between really dislike it and thinks that v3 is much worse than v2)
      #2 Alan Cox gives the v3 draft a -2 (thinks v3 is much worse than v2)

    • Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kjella (173770) on Friday September 22, 2006 @02:48PM (#16162486) Homepage
      Notable names not on the list

      Yes, they are:

      Name Vote
      Linus Torvalds -2.5
      Alan Cox -2.0

  • "So far, in the whole history of GPLv2, including notable successes both injunctively and at trial, we have not found any bugs significant enough to warrant such corrections."

    Why fix it then?
    • Foresight? Why did the FSF include the patents section in GPLv2, even though software patents weren't really a problem in 1991?
    • by jb.hl.com (782137)
      That is their eventual conclusion. If you read down to the end, they say that without the three clauses they are against, v3 has only marginal benefit over v2.
    • by Znork (31774) on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:27PM (#16162791)
      "Why fix it then?"

      It is getting broken. The current actions of certain companies to use the freedom of GPL code without passing on that same freedom to recepients of that code, through the use of, for example, DRM hardware detecting and preventing modification of the code, essentially is an example of 'broken'.

      Anyone vaguely familiar with the history of the FSF and RMS can recall one of the origin stories of the FSF, involving RMS recieving a buggy printer driver he wasnt allowed to fix due to its proprietary nature and closed source. Had he recieved the source, but then the printer had refused to use the updated drivers, nobody can reasonably come to any other conclusion than that DRM restrictions on the running of GPL code would be just as disallowed in GPL v2.

      The changes are exactly in line with the FSF reasoning, like it or not, and a natural evolution of the GPL to cope with new issues. Anyone more concerned with the freedom of those wanting to restrict others has a perfectly good selection of BSD type licenses to use. For those deliberatly and knowingly placing code under GPL these updates come as no surprise, and are not at all unwelcome.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 22, 2006 @02:46PM (#16162462)
    All this debate over the GPLv3 has been quite useful. These are issues that the community needs to discuss and consider. One of the outcomes of this appears to be a resurgence of the BSD license. I have talked and written to many open source developers who have become quite disappointed with the FSF and its stance with regards to the GPLv3. Many developers consider it far too restrictive, uncertain, and overly complex. Most of the time, developers just don't want to get bogged down in unnecessary legalities.

    A good portion of those people I have talked to have said that they are seriously considering using the BSD license for future releases (if it's within their power to make the change), or otherwise using the BSD license for new developments. Many gave their reason as being a mix of licensing simplicity, and commmercial friendliness. While it was far more difficult to take a GPL'ed application commercial, it's much easier to do with BSD-licensed software. Aside from a very small group of ideological thinkers, many in the open source community would like to be able to make a solid living off of their efforts. The BSD license allows for that quite easily.

    Going with a license as simple and straightforward as the BSD license often helps everyone. The developer can just develop, without getting bogged down in answering questions about how their software may be used, or other license-related issues. Users understand what they can do with the software much easier. That likely won't be the case for the GPLv3, where even many developers are unsure as to what it will permit and not permit.

    • One wonders if Linus would've chosen a BSD license when he released Linux.

      Really, tivoisation doesn't hurt Linux now because it's too big to kill that way, but it's an important point to consider. That, and the PS2/PS3 Linux, are examples of where I think the GPLv3 would help to capture the spirit of GPLv2. It's not that we care about DRM so much, it's that we don't want a corporation to be able to make a product based on Linux which doesn't allow the customer to make any changes at all. Having source co
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vertinox (846076)
      The resurgence of the BSD license?

      The answer is no.

      Because if you don't like GPLv3, then you can still use GPLv2 until the end of time.

      This is what irks me about anyone voicing outrage over GPLv3 because no one is forcing anyone to use it nor does the GPLv2 around the world magically become GPLv3.

      Only the author and copyright holder of the software can decide whether or not this will happen and even then... It won't magically causes its dirivatives to jump to GPLv3 by default

      Its only if you go back and star
  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Friday September 22, 2006 @02:49PM (#16162488)
    Good job Linus deleted the 'or a later version at your discretion' clause really, isn't it?

    Otherwise in 10 years time it would be licensed under a GPLv10 license, where contributors have to give up their paid jobs, move to Stallman's compound in Waco and donate all their cheetos to the communal food store next to his Sparc station.
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Friday September 22, 2006 @02:51PM (#16162514)
    I'm sorry, but I find it difficult to take a position until we poll Tuttle, Oklahoma for the definitive opinion on the fate of GPL v3.
  • To summarise (Score:5, Informative)

    by jb.hl.com (782137) <<ten.niwdlab-eoj> <ta> <eoj>> on Friday September 22, 2006 @02:54PM (#16162535) Homepage Journal
    In case you don't want to read the whole text, they think that GPLv3 is bad because:

    • The FSF has an implicit trust from developers, users and distributors.
    • The use of GPLv3 as a tool against DRM co-opts the work of thousands of people for the FSF's political ends, which they consider a violation of said trust (they do consider DRM a bad thing, they just don't want to be pulled into the FSF's war against it).
    • The additional restrictions clause will be a licensing headache for distributors and may cause splintering among the community depending on what restrictions are included.
    • The patents clause would make corporations even hosting GPLv3 programs on their website untenable, and might stop needed financial and programming contributions from the corporate world.
    • Those three reasons even individually are reason enough to reject GPLv3, and if those clauses are taken out of GPLv3 then it's only a marginal improvement over v2 which simply isn't worth the headache. They also feel that because the FSF will be converting all of its projects over to v3, this will lead to Balkanisation inside the FLOSS community. [wikipedia.org]
    • by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:20PM (#16162736) Journal
      IANAL, but reading the draft of the GPLv3 (which is IMO pretty clear and easy to understand for a legal document) I think those kernel developers are wrong on at least two points:
      • "The additional restrictions clause will be a licensing headache for distributors and may cause splintering among the community depending on what restrictions are included."
        AFAICT all different customizations of the GPLv3 and LGPLv3 will always be compatible, no matter what restrictions you choose, so I can't see how this can be a problem for distributors;
      • in the article they say that "defining what constitutes DRM abuse is essentially political in nature"; but the draft never uses the acronym DRM or anything else ambiguos: the draft has a section titled "No Denying Users' Rights through Technical Measures." and I can't see how this (and the actual content of the section) can be ambigous or political.
      Everything is IMVHO, of course. And different opinions on something as important as the next GPL are extremely useful: the FSF has already demonstrated to be able to listen and change their opinion (see the changes between the first and the second draft).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by carou (88501)
        The political part is in defining exactly what "user's rights" might be. Self-evidently, DRM cannot deny your rights if you don't have the right to do what it's denying.
    • by twitter (104583) on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:23PM (#16162757) Homepage Journal

      The use of GPLv3 as a tool against DRM co-opts the work of thousands of people for the FSF's political ends, which they consider a violation of said trust (they do consider DRM a bad thing, they just don't want to be pulled into the FSF's war against it).

      No one can make them change their license, can they?

      Interestingly enough, your summary contains almost all of the information in the article itself, and that's dissapointing. I'd at least have liked to see links to some of the supposed problems with encryption they claim has caused so many rewrites. Just the same, I'll quote what I think is the heart of what they say:

      ... section 3 forbids us from ever accepting any licence which contains end use restrictions. The existence of DRM abuse is no excuse for curtailing freedoms.

      Curtail who's freedom? Mine? No thanks and I'll see you later.

      DRM is something none of us should contribute to. Restricting user rights to use and modify and change software goes against everything that made the GPL a success in the first place. One of the reasons BSD is not as used is because software licensed that way could easily be used by those who are working against everyone's freedom. When you consider something wrong but don't do anything yourself and help others who would do the wrong thing, you are waffling. The poll, if it really reflects the opinions of those listed, is disturbing. Still, it does not matter unless someone can explain how they will be prohibited from continuing to use GPL2. If they really don't mind people Tivoising their work, why don't they just BSD it and let everyone bork the user straight up?

      • by jb.hl.com (782137)
        Interestingly enough, your summary contains almost all of the information in the article itself, and that's dissapointing

        That, twitter, is because it's a summary of the article, and I don't feel the need to inject my own take on things into it.
        • That, twitter, is because it's a summary of the article, and I don't feel the need to inject my own take on things into it.

          What bothered me was the lack of detail and supporting evidence in the orignial. Their conclusions, which you echo, may be warranted but they don't support them with anything other than opinions and generalizations.

          • by jb.hl.com (782137)
            This might be a bit ad hominem, but you're hardly in a place to be commenting on people only giving opinions and generalisations to support their conclusions.
      • Good for you (Score:2, Insightful)

        by everphilski (877346)
        DRM is something none of us should contribute to.

        That is YOUR morality. How dare you impose your morality on someone else? And fine, so you won't work on DRM. There is no reason why someone else can't use GPL'd software to do DRM. If they are using their own time and their own talents and the coder of the upstream software is OK with it - what is the problem? The GPL is only meant to cover redistribution of software (it is a licensing agreement not a terms-of-use).

        My problem is all you people who want
        • by jb.hl.com (782137)
          Well said.

          My personal view on it is that the FSF is trying to take a software license and use it as part of its political campaign against DRM, which is simply wrong for the reasons you outlined. As it is, I think the BSD license is probably the way to go.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Peter La Casse (3992)

            My personal view on it is that the FSF is trying to take a software license and use it as part of its political campaign against DRM

            That's not the half of it: the FSF created that license in the first place to serve their political and moral goals. From the very beginning, the GPL has been about imposing the morality of the developer on subsequent developers, and GPLv3 does not change that in any way.

            For those who agree with the FSF and its goals, GPLv3 is great. For you and your parent poster, the BSD

        • by twitter (104583) on Friday September 22, 2006 @04:31PM (#16163250) Homepage Journal

          That is YOUR morality. How dare you impose your morality on someone else?

          It's easy, really, I'm not going to use DRM infected stuff. I don't have to tell you about your licenses. I don't have to tell the FSF about GPL V3. I don't have to tell anyone how to do anything, and no one would listen anyway, but I won't be told what I'm going to run. If you don't fix DRM problems and all your work gets sucked up by greedy DRM publishers, you will soon be without users and none of them will be free. Do as you will, but don't blame me when your branch of code ends up, abused and stagnant. I promise, "experiments" into DRM will be avoided [slashdot.org].

          "preserving freedom" by removing freedom is hypocritical of the FSF.

          The freedom preserved has always been that of the user. To preserve that freedom, developers of GPL'd code gave up the "freedom" to be anti-social and prevent the user from being able to use, modify and share their changes. Tivo has shown how GPL'd code can keep users from doing those things. Change is required and I've yet to see anything positive from anyone but the FSF.

        • There is no reason why someone else can't use GPL'd software to do DRM. If they are using their own time and their own talents and the coder of the upstream software is OK with it - what is the problem?

          The problem is that the coder of the upstream software has released its work under a license that say that's not OK. If you want to play with DRM use BSD-licensed code, or write your own. But I don't want you to modify and redistribute my GPLv3-licensed code unless you in turn provide me the freedom to mo

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Darth (29071)
          That is YOUR morality. How dare you impose your morality on someone else?

          uh...he dares because you are distributing a derivative work based off of his code.

          There is no reason why someone else can't use GPL'd software to do DRM. If they are using their own time and their own talents and the coder of the upstream software is OK with it - what is the problem?

          If the upstream coder is ok with it, he won't release his code under the GPLv3. Alternately, he will give you a separate license to use his code that expl
    • by br00tus (528477)
      The GPL has always had a clause that you can update code to a new version of the GPL. These changes are to protect against DRM, not to make big money for Stallman. I find this talk of a violation of trust a little disingenuous. If you're going to slap a license on your code, you should read it first.

      As far as community splintering and a fall-off of corporate support, those are possible. These are the core Linux people, and if they want to stay at version 2, that's their choice. I contribute to free so

    • by vertinox (846076)
      The use of GPLv3 as a tool against DRM co-opts the work of thousands of people for the FSF's political ends, which they consider a violation of said trust (they do consider DRM a bad thing, they just don't want to be pulled into the FSF's war against it).

      FFS stop perpetuating the myth that the FSF is forcing people to switch from GPLv2 to GPLv3.

      Sure many of us will not switch because of its politics, but I can still use GPLv2 for new projects in year 2050 if we still have computers that write code.

      Again, th
  • Opinions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:05PM (#16162621) Homepage

    5.1 DRM Clauses

    Has any of these developers actually consulted with a good IPR lawyer before making these statements? They continue to bitch about the restrictions on "encryption", but I just don't see it, and neither does PJ of Groklaw.

    5.2 Additional Restrictions Clause

    They sort of have a point, but on the other hand, I think it would help greatly if GPL programs could implicitly link with OpenSSL, for example.

    5.3 Patents Provisions

    Personally, I like this clause. Of course, the problems would go away if software patents did too.

    License proliferation

    I think this line is rich:

    In deference to the critical role of distributions, we regard reducing the Open Source licensing profusion as a primary objective.

    <sarcasm>Sure guys, that's why you switched to GPLv2-only licensing: to reduce licensing profusion.</sarcasm>

    • by nuggz (69912)
      5.1 PJ isn't a lawyer.
      One issue the GPLv3 is attempting to solve is signed binaries.
      If the environment (ie Tivo) will only execute a signed binary the key must be released to allow someone to run the modified binary
      Many think this is an unacceptable consequence.

      5.2 Some people don't want the GPL to be incompatible with itself, which the GPLv3 would explicity allow.
  • but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:05PM (#16162624) Journal
    I'm havign a hard time understanding what all the problems with GPL v3 are about. We know that Linus isn't happy with it, we know a lot of people aren't keen on it. Because of this we will see a lot of projects stay on v2, with a few (and maybe an increasing number) go to v3. But why is this a problem? I think split licences are a good thing in this context, because I support freedom of choice. That's what we're here for in the first place isn't it? More choice is better.

    So long as we can make the versions work with each other then there is no problem.

    The GPL, whether it is version 2 or 3 will still be a sign to all end users that you can trust that the software will not take your rights and will be free (in both ways)

    • Re:but... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:59PM (#16163048) Homepage
      That's what we're here for in the first place isn't it? More choice is better.

      More choice is only better when the different things to choose from actually do something different. Choice between BSDL and GPL is good, because they try something quite different yet remain somewhat compatible, at least in one direction (GPL code can use BSDL code). Choice between GPLv2 and GPLv3 is however totally pointless, both try to do the exact same thing, just with some details smaller changes, however they are incompatible in both direction. If I no longer have the freedom to combine two free programs together, because they use very similar but incompatible licensese, a lot of freedom is simply wasted for no good reason.

    • You're not the only one who is confused. The article lacked crucial detail. For instance, on the DRM debate it says

      a nasty minefield which keeps ensnaring innocent and beneficial uses of encryption and DRM technologies

      Such as? Please, what are these innocent and beneficial uses that GPLv3 anti-DRM ensnares? The article didn't say, and didn't reference anything either. Look, kernel guys, the idea of DRM is simple enough, it's all about having the contradictory "freedom" to deny freedoms to others.

    • It's not that simple (Score:4, Interesting)

      by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Friday September 22, 2006 @04:11PM (#16163138) Journal
      Because of this we will see a lot of projects stay on v2, with a few (and maybe an increasing number) go to v3. But why is this a problem? I think split licences are a good thing in this context, because I support freedom of choice. That's what we're here for in the first place isn't it? More choice is better.

      Unfortunately it's not that simple. If I write a program and release it under GPLv2-only (which is probably a bad idea in the first place IMO, but it's what Linus did) and I use a library released under the "GPLv2 or any later version" and the new version of the library is released under the GPLv3 ("or any later version"), then I have to make a choice because the GPLv2-only is incompatible with the GPLv3:

      • I can stop entirely using that library (this requires writing new code);
      • I can continue using the old version of the library (this may requires duplicate work to fix bugs which are already fixed in the new version);
      • I can change my license from GPLv2-only to "GPLv2 or any later version" or "GPLv3 or any later version" (this is the most logical solution, that's why everyone want to make sure that the GPLv3 is very good or is not released at all: if it's released everyone will probably have a lot of reasons/pressure to switch).

      Disclaimer: I really like the GPLv3 because it garantees (even better than the GPLv2 that had some loopholes) that my software will be Free for everyone to modify and reuse, forever.

    • Re:but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tinkerghost (944862) on Friday September 22, 2006 @04:54PM (#16163394) Homepage

      The issue is that technically while GPLv2 code can be incorperated into GPLv3 code, the reverse is not nescisarily true.

      Under GPLv2, I can write a security library that touches the TPM chip on a PC, verifies that the programs you are running are what they are reporting to be and reports back with the results. The obvious first step is that my library has to verify that it is itself uncompromised if my library can't verify it's integrity, no programmer can rely on the results of my library's responces.

      If my library uses other GPLv2 libraries in the compile, I can verify & lock to specific versions I trust, that's fine. However, GPLv3 requires that I accept and allow any changes to the supporting libraries to be incorperated into my code - thus negating my ability to fully trust my own code.

      I am aware that people have issues with trusted computing, DRM, etc. However they each have thier place in the world. I don't agree with Tivo's decision to incorperate a lockout into thier system, but given the position they are in between providing the features customers want and being sued by the owners of the content that the people want, I can understand it. I certainly think that trusted computing and DRM have places where they are important - medical, financial, and security environments come to mind immediately. The GPLv2 allows Linux and GNU software to be constructed & run in these environments. The GPLv3 does not.

      RMS' take on this is 'tough, don't use our stuff if you're going to work in those environments', Linus' and these developers is "use the code, give us your improvements back, and we'll take it from there." Personnally I am in the camp with Linus, the overall codebase is what is important. As long as companies are developing applications and giving us back the improved code, the GNU/Linux project get's better - everyone wins in the long run. The individual embeded items don't matter. So Tivo created a device that you can't upgrade yourself. [shrug] You wouldn't have been able to if they put in a ROM instead of FLASH memory anyway. However, I can take that code they returned to the community, redirect the driver interfaces for it & make a DVR out of my PC, or even my Lynksys router if I package the videostream from a PC with a tuner card. The device Tivo made is almost irrelivant in the grand scheme of things, it'll sell for what 2 years? maybe 3? 50 years from now, I can take thier code and make it work.

      Think about it this way, who do you want scrutenizing Linux for security flaws? My answer is everyone. My reality is that it's usually done by 2 camps - malware writers (both for real use & theoretical exploration) and corperate employees who are paid to do it. I know I hate reviewing code looking for tiny errors that don't normally effect it's operation. I would rather run off to a dozen new projects than spend a month looking for why the function foo() screws up when you pass it numbers that factor into a prime > 2^64 but not less than that. Most people are the same way. With that in mind, if I want security improvements, I want guys from a security company working on my code not on their proprietary code. If in order to get them to do that for me, I have to allow them to use my code in a proprietary device that only runs versions of my code that they have verified as meeting their standards, that's a tradeoff I'm willing to make. I get code improvements I can use in this project and the next, they get to market their system as secure.

      For me it's interesting to note that RMS has said that there would have been no issues with TIVO if they had used ROM instead of FLASH to store the software. Because TIVO gave thier customers a means of updating their system without having to send it back to the factory, he feels it's a violation of the principles of the GPLv2. To me, that's where GPLv3 crosses the line from a software liscense into the realm of technical mandating.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rich0 (548339)
        I certainly think that trusted computing and DRM have places where they are important - medical, financial, and security environments come to mind immediately. The GPLv2 allows Linux and GNU software to be constructed & run in these environments.

        How is that? If I sell somebody a DRMed heart monitor that does a self-integrity test, I must also give them the ability to defeat that test. That doesn't mean that they have to pass that ability on to anybody else, unless they give them the monitor. So, th
  • by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:13PM (#16162687)
    1) We dont want to change a winning formula
    2) Even one more open-source license is too many
    3) We need corporate contributions to linux
    4) We don't own the copyright so we can't change
    5.1) *NO* DRM can be restricted unless absolutely ALL innocent use is allowed.
    5.2) GPL3 will fragment licenses by being compatible with more of them
    5.3) Companies cannot benefit from som GPL programs without giving up patent claims against all GPL programs (and we have to keep our corporate backers happy).
    6) There is no reason at all to use GPL3. It provides absolutely nothing of value over GPL2.

    Sorry but these reasons are just crap... 1) fear of change is not a reason, 2) there are hundreds of open-source licenses and one more is not going to break the camel's back, 3) pleasing corporations is not a tenant of oss and never has been, 4) they can change piecemeal on new parts, 5) drm is incompatible with oss, end-of-line, qed and 6) they are just being wankers.

    Personally I've looked into the kernel a lot and I'm not all that impressed... the code is good and fast, but the design choices are sometimes pretty shabby. For example the IOKit c++ based driver model in OS X is far superior. Or take their diss'ing of DTrace for instance. In fact, I would love to see a split that creates an alternative kernel for Linux. It would be a great thing in the long run.
    • 5.1) *NO* DRM can be restricted unless absolutely ALL innocent use is allowed.
      What, exactly, would be "innocent" use of DRM?
      • What, exactly, would be "innocent" use of DRM?

        I can think of quite a few, but they all involve me owning the master keys to my own computer, which the GPLv3 would make more likely.

        After reading the whole thing, I disagree with the kernel developers on most points. Their most significant objection is this one: "As drafted, this currently looks like it would potentially jeopardise the entire patent portfolio of a company simply by the act of placing a GPLv3 licensed programme on their website." It doesn't

    • by joe 155 (937621)
      1) fear of change is not a reason,

      they are not afraid of change, they just see no benifit to it. This isn't the kind of thing that they could have a punt on and see how it works out. This is something which they hold very dear and want to make sure it's good

      2) there are hundreds of open-source licenses and one more is not going to break the camel's back,

      I agree, but their point is still a valid objection.

      3) pleasing corporations is not a tenant of oss and never has been,

      This might not hav
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 0xABADC0DA (867955)
        I don't really disagree with any of your points, but lets cut to the chase:

        The kernel developers like companies contributing to linux and they don't want to jeopardize that. That's pretty much what their response is all about, whether they even realize it or not.

        Also you mention Red Hat... from the RH people I've talked to personally they seem pretty gung-ho about GPLv3. Probably because it protects them far more than v2 since it basically means they are immune from the majority of patent suits.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rutulian (171771)
      Agreed. This position statement seems to be, "We don't like politics and GPLv3, so here are a bunch of bs reasons for opposing the license change." Not liking politics is fine, but if you are going to draft a position statement you need to make sensible arguments and not just sound like ignorant wankers. The DRM and patent issues have been addressed by the FSF a number of times. This is not about a war against DRM and patents; it is about free software being free. Oh, and corporations may not like it, but s
    • Sorry but these reasons are just crap...

      I have to agree: I am lucky enough to be paid to develop a medium-sized program and it will almost certainly be released publicly under the "GPLv3 or (at your option) any later version", or at least a GPLv2+GPLv3 double license.

    • by radtea (464814) on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:42PM (#16162915)
      From the position statement:

      "The existence of DRM abuse is no excuse for curtailing freedoms." (sec 5.1)

      "As we stated in section 2 one of the serious issues in Open Source is too many licences." (sec 5.2)

      With regard to the first quote, they seem to be saying that the DRM clause is restricting the freedom of companies who want to prevent buyers from owning their products. This suggests that have forgotten about whose freedom the GPL is aimed at protecting: the person who recieves the code from someone else, not the person who wrote it. By the definition of "freedom" they are using, the GPL as it stands restricts the "freedom" of companies who want to incorporate GPL'd code in their product without releasing their own source.

      With regard to the second quote, this is a claim that I have only ever seen in the FUD-laced presentations of lawyers and patent agents. The number of open source licences is very, very small: there are fewer than a dozen common licenses, and the last time I counted only about fifty that are at all significant. Now compare that to the thousands or tens of thousands of closed-source licenses out there. There are amazingly few open source licenses. Indeed, if there really were hundreds of common licenses--instead of the GPLv2 plus a few other significant ones--then a new GPL version would be completely insignificant.

      So their position is not even self-consistent: either there is a large number of licenses, and adding one more is a problem; or there is a small number of licenses, and adding one more is a big deal. Their second point takes the former position, their first point the latter. Neither makes for a plausible argument.

      With regard to patents: if a new version of the GPL puts a spoke in the wheels of the software patent machine, more power to it.

    • by nuggz (69912)
      1) If it isn't broken why change it?
      2) Those who want this licence can use it, but creation of another license shouldn't be encouraged unless it solves a problem.
      3) Those working for corporations would like to keep contributing and be paid, this is a valid concern.
      4) The legal technicality of who owns the code is a SERIOUS concern for relicensing. You can't change piecemeal because you'd be linking 2 incompatible licenses, this is not permitted.
      5) DRM is not incompatible with OSS, it is incompatible with th
    • 3) pleasing corporations is not a tenant of oss and never has been,

      The corporations make the hardware and pay for a lot of oss development. A basement OSS developer only has so much time to contribute to free software. Many of the OSS leaders have paid, full time corporate jobs to work on open source projects. And it's a lot easier to use hardware with open source software if the vendor provides an open driver or releases the device specs to open source developers.

      In principle open source and corp
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:14PM (#16162690)
    What Stallman is trying to do is to prevent hardware from running GPL'd software if the hardware prevents its owner from running versions of the software that have been modified. Although I'm for free software as in speech, I think trying to use the software license to control what a hardware manufacturer does is inappropriate and overstepping.

    If a manufacturer creates hardware that limits a person's ability to modify the software that runs on it then let the market forces apply pressure. There won't be the plethora of open source software from the community to run on it and that will give an advantage to products that do allow the community to add to the product's value.
    • "If a manufacturer creates hardware that limits a person's ability to modify the software that runs on it"

      Then he can do that. With his own code. Not with mine.

      "then let the market forces apply pressure"

      Not being free to use other peoples GPLv3 licensed code is market pressure.

      Quid pro quo. It really aint that hard to grasp. If you want the freedom, then you have to pass that freedom on.
      • My point is that GPL V2 the manufacturer must release his code back to the community. Nothing prevents you from taking that code, removing what you don't like and running it on hardware that you build. The GPL v3 oversteps its bounds by dictating hardware design.
    • There seems to be a naive belief in the free market similar to that of "god will provide".

      There isn't a free market - in this case there is likely to be collusion between the hardware vendors, the proprietary software vendors and the *AA. Given the amount of money they have they can use the "free market" to purchase as many additional lawmakers they need to push through whatever restrictions they want.

  • by gnujoshua (540710) on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:29PM (#16162805) Homepage
    The authors claim that the GPL V3 draft is not in the spirit of the GPL V2 license. However, I believe that the extreme liberalness of the language used within the preamble is perhaps what we should base our understanding of "spirit of" from. For instance, the Preamble states:

    " To protect your rights, we need to make restrictions that forbid anyone to deny you these rights or to ask you to surrender the rights. These restrictions translate to certain responsibilities for you if you distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it.

    For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. "

    This excerpt is especially stirking when applied to DRMd software. When someone distributes a DRM'd software system that it is often the case that the maker of the software system has more rights than the reciever of them. For instance, a person recieving a TiVo software system, they have implicitly been denied certain rights due to the nature of the software distribution (which, in this case, is dependent upon a hardware system).

    I believe that the article, "The Dangers of Problems with GPLv3" hinders largely upon this notion of "spirit" and upon developers' trust with the FSF and future drafts of the GPL. I belive that RMS has been more than clear about his beliefs. Furthermore, the FSF has worked hard to share as much of their philosophy as they could with the world. As a person who has spent a good deal of time with the written philosophy of the FSF, I believe that the GPL V3 is very much in the spirit of the GPL V2 and is clearly in-line with the spirit of the GNU Project and Free Software Foundation.

    However, it is important that when entrusting an organization with your copyright, you should take a good look at the organization and read their beliefs and arguments and to look beyond just the clauses within the license. "The Dangers and Problems with GPLv3" fails completely to do this kind of research or background check, and as such, I believe that they have failed to make a solid argument as to why the GPL V3 is not in the spirit of the GPL v2. I will leave it to the rest of the slashdot community to closely examine the language of this article and reveal that there is a lot of huff and puff and hot air but not a lot of substance or strength to the arguments.

    -Joshua Gay

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:35PM (#16162866)
    They list three primary reasons for not wanting to use GPL 3:

    1. They are against the DRM clause because they believe it is an "end use restriction". The DRM clause prevents distributors from calling the program a 'technological "protection" measure' which ensures that others are free to distribute it. Perhaps it's redundant, but it adds no restrictions on end-use.

    2. They are against the "Additional Restrictions Clause". This is one of the most sorely needed updates to the license. It helps make it compatible with other free software licenses. They're afraid that this will encourage too many alternative licensing usages. Unfortunately, reality is that there are already too many licenses out there now and this clause is trying to be as useful as possible in the current environment. If everyone agreed with and used GPL2 this clause would be unnecessary.

    3. They are against the patent clause because they are afraid it will scare away corporate help. Here they may be right. However, the GPL is intended to be for "free software", not for general "open source software". This clause is certainly in the spirit of the GPL although it might make it harder for some projects to get help. Support for this clause will vary depending on how one falls on the practicality/idealism spectrum.

    In summary, their reasons seem based primarily on a desire to see their work disseminated as widely as possible and not to keep the software free. I'm disappointed in them.
  • Pissing match (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Oh goodie, yet another article about the pissing match between the Linux kernel developers and the FSF.

    I personally think that the kernel devs, particularly the major ones, are losing touch with their own customer base. Every single point of the open letter I dispute:

    1) The anti-DRM clause is a *good* thing, as it prevents the industry giants from turning the free Linux-that-can-be-tweaked-by-the-end-user into Unix-that-can-only-be-modified-by-the-vendor. Do they even remember the craptastic state of Uni
  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Friday September 22, 2006 @03:52PM (#16162997) Journal
    Of 29 of the top developers, 28 are opposed to the GPL3, and the other 1 doesn't care either way. And that's not counting whether they want to switch to it, but just whether or not they like it.

    I never would have expected such a landslide.
  • The "Balkanisation of the OpenSource" is a thread we all should take seriously. It's already happening all over, e.g. Gnome versus KDE, CSS drivers versus OSS drivers, etc. We really don't need yet another balkanisation with licenses.

    O. Wyss
  • Why not call it the Gnu 2nd Public Liscence? (G2PL). That way there is no feeling of "forced" updating of people that don't want to use the new liscence, and yet the DRM clause can still be there for people that want a new liscence.
  • I humbly disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by J.R. Random (801334) on Friday September 22, 2006 @04:44PM (#16163332)

    In deference to the critical role of distributions, we regard reducing the Open Source licensing profusion as a primary objective. GPLv2 has played an important role in moving towards this objective by becoming the dominant Licence in the space today, making it possible to put together a Linux Distribution from entirely GPLv2 components and thus simplify the life of a distributor. Therefore, we believe that any update to GPLv2 must be so compelling as to cause all projects currently licensed under it to switch as expediently as possible and thus not fragment the currently unified GPLv2 licensed ecosystem.

    This is a moot point. I think it's a given that all FSF copyrighted code will move to GPL v3 (or LGPL v3). That includes such core components of Linux distributions as gcc. So the further proliferation of licenses in Linux distributions is a given, regardless of what the Linux kernel developers do.

    While we find the use of DRM by media companies in their attempts to reach into user owned devices to control content deeply disturbing, our belief in the essential freedoms of section 3 forbids us from ever accepting any licence which contains end use restrictions. The existence of DRM abuse is no excuse for curtailing freedoms.

    In other words, if manufacturers start selling PCs with Linux installed, complete source for their version of Linux, but no ability to actually modify, compile, and upgrade the kernel due to the hardware enforcing DRM authentication (and the necessary keys being kept secret), this is fine by the Linux developers. This leads to precisely the sort of problem that led RMS to create the GPL in the first place -- he wanted to fix a printer driver but couldn't because the code was proprietary. Is it any different if the code is available but you can't install your fixes anyway? The purpose of GPL v3 is to forbid certain egregious end use restrictions.

    Finally, we recognise that defining what constitutes DRM abuse is essentially political in nature and as such, while we may argue forcefully for our political opinions, we may not suborn or coerce others to go along with them.

    An odd statement, given that the GPL is and always has been political in nature. (I think RMS would agree with that statement.) People who don't care what happens to the source code, and what restrictions are placed on the end user, use the BSD license.

    As drafted, this currently looks like it would potentially jeopardise the entire patent portfolio of a company simply by the act of placing a GPLv3 licensed programme on their website. Since the Linux software ecosystem relies on these type of contributions from companies who have lawyers who will take the broadest possible interpretation when assessing liability, we find this clause unacceptable because of the chilling effect it will have on the necessary corporate input to our innovation stream.

    Further, some companies who also act as current distributors of Linux have significant patent portfolios; thus this clause represents another barrier to their distributing Linux and as such is unacceptable under section 2 because of the critical reliance our ecosystem has on these distributions.

    The relevant section of GPL v3 says:

    You receive the Program with a covenant from each author and conveyor of the Program, and of any material, conveyed under this License, on which the Program is based, that the covenanting party will not assert (or cause others to assert) any of the party's essential patent claims in the material that the party conveyed, against you, arising from your exercise of rights under this License. If you convey a covered work, you similarly covenant to all recipients, including recipients of works based on the covered work, not to assert any of your essential patent claims in the covered work.

    In other words, you can't enfo

  • All talk, no walk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Friday September 22, 2006 @04:46PM (#16163354) Homepage Journal
    This follows on from my last post on here, and it was something I was thinking about only a few moments before I saw the article.

    AFAIK, Autoconf's version number hasn't changed in at least two years. I can also remember looking into it a few months back and discovering that at the time anyway, GNU Make only had two maintainers.

    The FSF has completely lost focus, IMHO. Core elements of the toolchain are not being actively maintained, and several of the people who were maintaining them have been employed by Red Hat, causing a conflict of interest which cannot be conducive to Linux's long-term wellbeing...or at least that of the GNU project, for those of you who like to split hairs.

    I've had FSF advocates reply to me before and talk about how the anti-DRM crusade is important...fine and good, but let me mention something which I think is even more important.

    For all that Stallman has written and said, and continues to say, about software freedom, said freedom isn't going to matter much if the software itself ceases to exist. I'm also not talking about KDE or anything on the surface, either...I'm talking about the core knowledge behind how to assemble a Linux system, and the tools themselves which are used to do that. Yes, I know the Linux From Scratch project will immediately be pointed to, perhaps...but aside from them and perhaps Gentoo, who else is there?

    Aside from Debian, Gentoo, and Slackware, the rest of the major distributions are corporate, and created by people with far more interest in imitating Windows as closely as possible than in technical integrity. You only need to visit their forums or look at the track record for security of some of them to know that. Red Hat began Linux's decomposition process, but the other companies are continuing it. It's happened quietly, but on a number of levels, I honestly believe that Linux's roots are seriously endangered, currently...and as any botanist will be able to tell you, if the roots are compromised, although it won't happen overnight, there's a very good chance that the entire tree will eventually die.

    I'd ask anyone who reads this and who cares about Linux's future to go and build Linux From Scratch [linuxfromscratch.org] at least once...as that information will only survive if it exists within a large enough group of people. I've heard about the concepts of installfests, which are great...but if it could be arranged, I think source installfests, or "compilefests" could be fantastic as well. I feel that on a technical level, rather than on a political one, there needs to be a return to some core principles:-

    a) Compilation from source, so that we're actually *using* source code rather than just talking about it. Source code availability is Linux's fundamental strength...there are any number of people in the corporate world who'd love a scenario where Linux was purely binary only, a la Windows, because they know how much that would disempower Linux users if they could bring it about. For all the talk about the convenience of binary rpms and debs, use of these is actually "helping" Linux to death. Whining about binary drivers on the one hand and using apt on the other is simply rank hypocrisy, IMHO...and it also doesn't genuinely solve either problem.

    b) Individuals with sufficient technical ability once more creating their own systems on a wide basis, and not merely relying on predigested, corporate distributions which are often severely crippled for the purposes of compiling source, use deeply unreliable and broken package management systems, and which do not adhere to standards. Decentralisation used to be another of Linux's major strengths...again, something else which we're losing. The ability to "roll your own," is still there, but if we don't keep using it, we *will* lose it...there are a lot of people out there who as I said are waiting for any opportunity they can get to take such an ability away from us.

    c) A commitment as individuals to the adherence to such basic things a

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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