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RMS Explains GPLv3 Draft 3 139

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the discussion-drafts-doing-their-job dept.
H4x0r Jim Duggan writes "A transcript is now online of a talk Richard Stallman gave in Brussels earlier this week about the discussion draft 3 of GPLv3. Among other things, he explained how it will address the Novell-MS deal, from Novell's point of view and from Microsoft's, and he explained how the tivoisation clause was narrowed to make it more acceptable in the hope that it will be used by more people. After the talk he also gave an interview, and yesterday, draft 2 of LGPLv3 was released."
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RMS Explains GPLv3 Draft 3

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  • I wish for a ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @01:46PM (#18609653)
    legal discussion of GPLv3, by lawyers for laymen, and how it impacts: developers, developers who use libraries, users, corporate users, etc...

    Sorry, telling me that the GPL is obvious and that I'm stupid for not understanding it won't save me if I run into legal problems associated with the GPL. And I will have to spend money on an IP attorney to help me. It would be stupid to think that, without legal training and a license in my state, I know the law and can interpret a contract accordingly.

    Yeah, it would be nice if it were so easy that I didn't need a lawyer. Then again, if laws and contracts were so obvious, why are there courts?

    Incorrect answer (most of the time): Because everyone is dishonest and trying to screw the other guy.

    • by gormanly (134067) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:21PM (#18610179)

      It's not a contract, it's a software licence, which isn't the same thing in law.

      And it is stupid to have such things as EULA's which only a lawyer could possibly understand the full meaning and implications of - but haven't all the millions of computer users the world over "agreed" to them without such an understanding? Or has everyone else received their classes in understanding the licences for Microsoft Windows and Office, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Sun Java, Macromedia Flash and everything else that is loaded on their PCs as part of their basic education, on a day I was off school?

      The question is whether the GPL (any version) is harder to understand than any other licence. If not, then you don't need a lawyer just for the GPL v3.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's not a contract, it's a software licence, which isn't the same thing in law.

        For bonus points, can you please tell us in correct plain English what a "software licence" is in law (and in what jurisdictions)?

        And it is stupid to have such things as EULA's which only a lawyer could possibly understand the full meaning and implications of - but haven't all the millions of computer users the world over "agreed" to them without such an understanding?

        I rather doubt that. In most places, you can't enter

    • RMS's interpretation does not matter. It iis the legal interpretation of what is written that matters. The law is like a somewhat fuzzy CPU, you feed it code (the documents) and it outputs a result. It does not matter what you want it to mean, all that really matters is what is actually written. If your will says "Give all my possessions to Bub", but you tell people that you want Joe to get it, the law says stuff goes to Bub.

      RMS often says what he wants GPL to mean. That is very different from what the leg

      • by quintesse (654840) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:42PM (#18611433)
        "but since that faq is not actually part of the GPL it is not binding on anyone's interpretation of the GPL"

        IANAL but as far as I understand it this is not actually true. Public statement from the author(s) of a license will affect the decision a judge makes if it ever comes to a trial. IBM lawyers used newletters published by AT&T where they clarified certain points in their license in the SCO case to show that SCO's interpretation of the license was not the same as AT&T's. So if it ever comes down to the question "what does this sentence here actually mean?" a judge will definitely look at any statements made by the FSF.

        Where the law and the text of the license are clear there won't be much discussion, but both law and licenses are not science and open for many interpretations, that's why we need judges.
        • by cetialphav (246516) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @04:28PM (#18612201)
          Public statement from the author(s) of a license will affect the decision a judge makes if it ever comes to a trial.

          This is a good point. When the intent of something is in doubt, it is common for judges to look to the context of things to determine what makes sense. Where things really get hairy is if I use the GPL to license my own work. In that case, am I bound by RMS's interpretation of the license? I may interpret the license differently (and provide my own FAQ about what I think it means). The reality is that in many cases, the FSF view of the license won't matter since the FSF is neither issuing or receiving the license.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CandyMan (15493)
            IANAL and all that, but yes, what matters in a licensing dispute is the original intent of the licensor, not of the person who wrote the license. So if you licensed your work under the GPLv3 and offered your own rationale, a judge would no doubt consider it in case of a dispute.

            However, I think you would be hard pressed to offer a different interpretation from the one profferred by Eben Moglen and company. And you can't give an interpretation that is directly contrary to the language of the license, as you
        • By NO means is this anything close to authoritative. Intent might be discernible, though still open to interpretation, but to read you, statements made by an author seemingly can be used to prop up badly/negligently worded licenses. Not so. Not even remotely so. You can't leave a gaping hole in the license and then say "but look at these statements I made elsewhere, they show I didn't mean that to be possible!". What, the user of a license is supposed to examine the external words and writings of the author
          • by quintesse (654840)
            No no, I definitely didn't imply anyhting like that, the whole thing is about interpretations, that's all. You are right of course that you can't cover holes in the license with words publicized outside it. But when talking about the _intent_ of a license, especially when the text of the license might open to several different and conflicting interpretations, you have to realize that a judge will take into account anything that the licensor has said publicly about his intentions.

            In the case of AT&T I th
          • by e4g4 (533831)
            Given some hypothetical instance of a licensing dispute, I would certainly agree with you assuming that there exists an issue with the license that could be called a "gaping hole". If, OTOH, said licensing dispute hinges on the interpretation of an ambiguity in the license, wouldn't a judge have no other option but to consult any/all commentary by the license's author in order to resolve the ambiguity?

            IANAL, but it seems to me that if a decision *must* be made, and cannot be unambiguosly deduced from the
        • by monkeydo (173558)
          If the licensor had published those newsletters and the licensee had read them before agreeing to the license, then you might have a point. However, where one party drafts a contract and it is given to the other party on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, the contract is usually interpreted in the way most favorable to the receiving party. IOW, what the licensee of the software thinks it means is probably more important than what RMS thinks it means.
          • by quintesse (654840)
            That's contracts, this is licenses, there is a big difference. A license is a permission to use or copy or whatever, but the thing you got is still owned by the one who gave you the license. So as far as I know a court will be more on the author's side in that case (but just to remind you: IANAL).
            • by monkeydo (173558)
              A license is just a special case contract. Anytime I agree to do one thing and in return you agree to do another, we have a contract. There are rules of contract interpretaion that would apply to a written license, including the Parol Evidence Rule, which would impact what outside documents would be allowed to be introduced to show the meaning of the contract.
              • by quintesse (654840)
                Well now you are just plain wrong: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=200312142 10634851 [groklaw.net]
                • by monkeydo (173558)
                  From your linked article:

                  "Because the GPL does not require any promises in return from licensees, it does not need contract enforcement in order to work. A GPL licensor doesn't say in the event of trouble "But, judge, the licensee promised me he wouldn't do what he's doing now." The licensor plaintiff says 'Judge, the defendant is redistributing my copyrighted work without permission.' The defendant can then either agree that he has no permission, in which case he loses, or assert that his permission is the

      • by monkeydo (173558)
        I would say that in addition to RMS's interpretation not mattering because he isn't a lawyer, it doesn't matter because it is largely unintelligible.

        There's another form of attack on Free Software's freedoms that we found out about last November with the Novell-Microsoft deal. What happened was that Novell made a deal with Microsoft where Novell pays for distributing copies of GPL-covered software and Microsoft gives the customers of Novell a very limited patent licence which is conditional on their not exe

    • I take offense to that-- my girlfriend is not dishonest and trying to screw other guys =(
    • by lawyers for laymen

      Is that even possible? Wouldn't they get disbarred (or defrocked or whatever its called) for talking in plain english?

      I suppose that a lawyer could *pretend* to speak so as to be intelligible to a laymen, for several thousand $$$ per hour... but would that count?

  • My biggest question is whether GPL3 will be compatible with the many existing "GPL-esque" free licenses [1], which are currently GPL-incompatible, because they contain patent-nullification clauses?

    There is a lot of software out there being developed under licenses which aren't compatible with the GPL, because the GPL doesn't allow patent nullification clauses -- this is dangerous, because the purpose of these clauses is to keep someone from slipping code into a major project that they have a patent for, and then torpedoing the whole thing later on when it's crept into wider use. I don't know if this issue just wasn't foreseen when GPL2 was written up, but I can't think of a more pressing issue at the moment.

    Yeah, "Tivo-ization" and web services may keep some software out of the hands of the public, but they're not nearly as downright dangerous as submarine patents are.

    [1] Examples: IBM Public License 1.0, Common Public License 1.0, Apache License v2, or any of the other licenses where the FSF cheerfully comments "We don't think those patent termination cases are inherently a bad idea, but nonetheless they are incompatible with the GNU GPL."
    • by Adhemar (679794) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:09PM (#18609977)

      My biggest question is whether GPL3 will be compatible with the many existing "GPL-esque" free licenses, which are currently GPL-incompatible, because they contain patent-nullification clauses?

      As it is currently drafted, the GPL v3 has a patent-nullification clause itself: section 11. Furthermore, it allows under section 7 that derivative works have "Additional Terms" that are not in the GPL, but not incompatible with the idea of Free Software. The goal of section is to have less free software licenses that are GPL-incompatible; which directly addresses your question

      Examples: (...) Apache License v2
      Sadly, the Apache License v2 will probably remain incompatible with the GPL, even GPL v3. As desribed in the Rationale document [fsf.org], section 4.4, not because of the patent termination clause; but because Apache License v2's section 9 states that downstream redistributors must agree to indemnify upstream licensors under certain conditions.

      In any case, if you have comments on the latest(L)GPL v3 draft, the FSF's comment page [fsf.org] is the best place to do it. The reason this whole GPL v3 thing takes so much time (the first draft for GPL v3 was published Monday, January 16, 2006!) is that the FSF takes serious comments seriously (and of course, because of certain vendors' deals as well).

      • by sumdumass (711423)
        the GPLv3 has a similar clause. But it also contains the no further restrictions clause which stops the patent nullification.

        It appears the GPlv3 does the same so unless they have some specific clause allowing it, it could be in the same boat.
    • FSF have tried all along to achieve compatibility with the Apache licence. The current status is that the patent language is now similar enough for the two licences to be compatible in that respect, but a new problem has been found which would make them incompatible. I expect a solution is being looked for.

      This is discussed in the transcript in the section Patent retalisation and the Apache licence [fsfeurope.org] (the transcript is split into sections and there is a menu for easy navigation and linking).

    • this is dangerous, because the purpose of these clauses is to keep someone from slipping code into a major project that they have a patent for, and then torpedoing the whole thing later on when it's crept into wider use.

      IANAL, but I seem to remember reading some time long ago that if a person or company were to do that then they would, in the US at least, end up fscking up any patent case they'd make. Probably the worst they could manage would be to require the project to stop using the patented code.
  • Complexity (Score:1, Insightful)

    by N7DR (536428)
    If it needs to be explained to intelligent people, it's too complicated.
    • by oGMo (379)
      If you have a problem with complexity, you're not intelligent people.
    • Re:Complexity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:18PM (#18610139) Homepage Journal

      If it needs to be explained to intelligent people, it's too complicated.

      Unfortunately, the legal landscape is what's too complicated here. A certain level of complexity is necessary in anything intended to be functional on that landscape.

    • Re:Complexity (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bogtha (906264) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:30PM (#18610339)

      The GPLv2 is one of the simplest, straightforward software licenses I've ever seen. It uses plain English, virtually no legal jargon, and even includes a summary. And I always see people talking about GPL-this and GPL-that who don't appear to have even read it, much less understood it.

      Now the GPLv3 is more complicated than the GPLv2, but the main reason for it having to be explained is because so many people already have misconceptions about it from the rumour mill and because of its novelty. I wouldn't say that the necessity for an explanation is inherently a cause for concern.

      • by Pxtl (151020)
        Well said. The GPLV2 is full of bewildering ambiguities and is frequently misapplied. The verbiage is all code-specific, but it is frequently applied to non-code content, leaving the non-code content in legal limbo. Not to mention the ambiguity of linking, particularly in scripting languages where code can be much less interdependant than in C.
      • by exi1ed0ne (647852)

        The GPLv2 is one of the simplest, straightforward software licenses I've ever seen.
        How about the BSD license? It's tough to get simpler than that:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_license [wikipedia.org]
      • by jonadab (583620)
        > The GPLv2 is one of the simplest, straightforward software licenses I've ever seen.

        That doesn't mean it isn't too complicated. It only means most of the *other* software licenses you've seen are even worse.

        I do consider the GPL v2 to be really too complicated, driven by the complicated goals it's trying to achieve. The GPL v3 is still trying to achieve (more or less) those same goals, but it's trying to do it more robustly in the face of various complicated situations. So it's still *more* compl

    • If it needs to be explained to intelligent people, it's too complicated.

      In that case, you might want to try complaining about copyright law. Though what copyright tries to achieve (chopping ideas into discreet units and assigning ownership[1]) is so different from how ideas otherwise exist I can't imagine the law every being simple.

      In many cases, the GPL makes dealing with copyright less complicated - because it's a de facto standard, because you can focus on the four freedoms instead of the minutiae

    • Re:Complexity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:16PM (#18611025) Homepage
      If it needs to be explained to intelligent people, it's too complicated.

      Maybe. But legalese is what you get when you take English and try to make it into an exact language, like say a programming. Unfortunately general conversation is absolutely horrible at this, so it is a lot like putting a square peg in a round hole.

      That leads to a very odd style with a lot of defintions, not just in the front but through-out the document. Further, unlike say source code where the code is the actual execution, you need to spell everything in detail so that a court can narrow its way down to a detail and say true or false, or hopefully be so clear it never gets there. It certainly tends to get wordy, and information density is very low. Most people fail to see the nuances and see repetition without meaning and react with "All that to say so little?"

      Third, you have to assume bad faith on the other party. Some of the paragraphs are specificly there to prevent circumvention attempts, for example legally subdividing yourself deliver signed software with one hand and DRM hardware with the other. Unless you exaplin the whole scenario, that part is almost impossible to understand.

      So well, even when you try to make it simple it gets complicated. For example, let me summarize chapter 15: "No warranty and absolute waiver of liability". It is simple, perfectly understandable and would probably get torn apart in court. So you get this blurb:

      "THERE IS NO WARRANTY FOR THE PROGRAM, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW. EXCEPT WHEN OTHERWISE STATED IN WRITING THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND/OR OTHER PARTIES PROVIDE THE PROGRAM "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MER- CHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE PROGRAM IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE PROGRAM PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR OR CORRECTION.

      IN NO EVENT UNLESS REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAW OR AGREED TO IN WRITING WILL ANY COPYRIGHT HOLDER, OR ANY OTHER PARTY WHO MODIFIES AND/ OR CONVEYS THE PROGRAM AS PERMITTED ABOVE, BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR DAMAGES, INCLUDING ANY GENERAL, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE PROGRAM (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO LOSS OF DATA OR DATA BEING RENDERED INACCURATE OR LOSSES SUSTAINED BY YOU OR THIRD PARTIES OR A FAILURE OF THE PROGRAM TO OPERATE WITH ANY OTHER PROGRAMS), EVEN IF SUCH HOLDER OR OTHER PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

      If the disclaimer of warranty and limitation of liability provided above cannot be given local legal effect according to their terms, reviewing courts shall apply local law that most closely approximates an absolute waiver of all civil liability in connection with the Program, unless a warranty or assumption of liability accompanies a copy of the Program in return for a fee."

      Now, did it honestly say more than the one line above?
      • One other thing I've always been confused about: why do legal documents always have to SHOUT LIKE THIS?
      • by swillden (191260) *

        Third, you have to assume bad faith on the other party. Some of the paragraphs are specificly there to prevent circumvention attempts, for example legally subdividing yourself deliver signed software with one hand and DRM hardware with the other. Unless you exaplin the whole scenario, that part is almost impossible to understand.

        Good point. It strikes me that a very similar situation occurs in code as well. Most code is not very careful about error conditions, especially things that almost never happen. Most code basically just gives up and aborts if something goes wrong. That's why exceptions are a popular error-handling mechanism, they allow most code to simply ignore errors, safe in the knowledge that if something goes wrong, the whole operation will simply be failed and handled at a very high level somewhere high up the c

    • by HiThere (15173)
      So what's your replacement for Relativity and Quantum Mechanics?

      There are things which are actually difficult to understand, but which can't both be made simpler and also remain accurate.

      It is a reasonable **GOAL** to have a really simple license. This doesn't mean that this goal can be achieved without sacrificeing other goals. Thing of it as an exercise in Linear Programming. It's an optimization problem: How to achieve a minimax in n dimensions over an m-dimensional space with a complicted metric. T
    • by RedElf (249078)
      Long live the BSD license! Anything else is too complicated and restrictive.
  • Why GPL3? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jshriverWVU (810740)
    With the wonderful growth of open source software and many using the GPL (v2) what is so wrong with it they need to make a new version. For the past couple months that I've been following everything has been pretty much bad concerning V3.
    • For those of you who haven't read the article, allow me to summarise:

      blah, blah, patents are evil, blah, so is DRM.

    • Re:Why GPL3? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Adhemar (679794) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:30PM (#18610343)

      I disagree completely.

      Yes, the GPLv2 was/is a great license, but it isn't perfect. The FSF's main concern is that certain companies start to distribute software/devices that is in accordance with the letter of the GPLv2, but not with its spirit (specifically freedoms 2 and 3: the freedom to change the program to your own needs, and distribute changes). Example: Tivo.

      Also, GPLv2 was written at a time where software patents weren't considered possible, even in the worst nightmares. Today, they are a reality in many parts of the world.

      Besides Tivoisation and patents, there are some other good things in the GPL v3, as it is currently drafted. It will be no longer necessary to provide source code via snail mail if you distribute binaries without source. This is the 21st century, providing access to copy the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge will be sufficient.

      Yes, there is resistance to the GPL v3, especially to the earlier drafts (drafts 1 and 2). That's what this long comment period is about. The FSF is taking serious comments seriously. Also, there was opposition in 1991 about GPL v2 as well. Some resistance doesn't mean the whole thing sucks.

      And if the GPL v2 continues to be fine by you, you are free to continue to use GPL v2 for your own software. Or dual license "GPL v2 or v3" if you want to stay compatible with GNU software. The FSF would argue that "GPL v2, or at the user's option, any later version" is even better.

      • by avxo (861854)

        Besides Tivoisation and patents, there are some other good things in the GPL v3, as it is currently drafted. It will be no longer necessary to provide source code via snail mail if you distribute binaries without source. This is the 21st century, providing access to copy the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge will be sufficient.

        The GPL v2 allows that already. In section 3a, it states that to distribute you must accompany the work "with the complete corresponding machine-readable source

      • by vux984 (928602)
        I'm really of a mixed mind about TPM/vender signed code ...

        I am 100% against the DMCA, using TPM in my PCs to allow manufacturers to force only signed code (that only THEY can sign).

        Yet at the same time, I myself, envision business models where I think it is both legitimate, fair, and even RIGHT, to do just that.

        For example, suppose I were to write a mmorpg, I'd frankly be happy to GPL the client and server apps. But I'd like to hold back a big chunk of the database CONTENT, and even some plug-in modules im
    • Re:Why GPL3? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fregaham (702982) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:48PM (#18610599)
      GPL is a Free Software license, it does not care about "open source" or "growth" at all. Tivoisation and patent deals make existing GPLv2 software effectively non-free software for end users. GPL is for people who cares about end users using their software. They want a license that would guarantee that no one could distribute their software without giving end users their Four Essential Freedoms they deserve. Use a different license if you don't belive end users deserves their Essential Freedoms.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      what is so wrong with it they need to make a new version.

            It's called defensive licensing.
    • by babbling (952366)
      As a free software developer, I'm interested in the GPLv3 beyond the FUD that comes from certain companies or the Linux kernel developers. I am looking forward to using the GPLv3 because I believe all of the changes being made are good ones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 2short (466733)
      Well, I agree. Why GPL3 no matter what the provisions?

      If I recall correctly, I first came across open source in 1993, when I read some fairly persuasive essays about it by RMS. I was initially sceptical of the GPLs share-alike restricitons. I recall RMS arguing that the nascent open-source movement didn't have the resources, code base, or more-or-less "head start" that proprietary software had, and they must give themselves a leg up by creating software that was only available ot themselves. This was pa
      • by zsau (266209)
        Before you consider this one of a million angry rebuttals, let me note that your conclusions are your own and you can keep with them regardless of RMS, but...

        You misunderstand RMS and the FSF completely. RMS does not and has never stood for Open Source software. RMS does not advocate the technical superiority of an Open development model. In fact, he doesn't even necessarily believe it is technically superior—read his essay on why Open Source misses the point of Free Software [gnu.org].

        RMS is however avidly aga
        • by 2short (466733)

          I beleive I correctly understood the position of RMS when he wrote the essays I found so persuasive (sometime before 1993, when I read them), but that his position has drifted and/or hardened since then. That's his right, but I liked the kinder, gentler RMS better :)

          Frankly, I think that in this RMS is somewhat a victim of his own success. He was instumental in convincing me, and quite a number of my contemporaries, that open was (technically) better. He may have seen that as only a side point to his mai
  • CLEAR! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:01PM (#18609869)
    (RMS applies paddles to GPL3's chest. It twitches once, then lies still again)

    RMS: Any response?

    (EMS takes pulse of GPL3, shakes his head)

    RMS: Alright, let's try watering down some of the shriller provisions. CLEAR! (RMS applies paddles to GPL3's chest again. It twitches, then lays still)

    RMS: Anything?

    EMS (peering into GPL's eyes) I'm sorry, I'm not seeing any Linus signs whatsoever.

    Crow T. Trollbot

    • EMS (peering into GPL's eyes) I'm sorry, I'm not seeing any Linus signs whatsoever.

      No Linus signs? Didn't Linus say that draft 2 was enough better than draft 1 that he was actually considering using it?

      Like last Thursday [slashdot.org] or so?
      • I think a previous slashdot story mentioned he was happier with the new draft (look for the dupe this weekend). However, as it currently stands, Linux is written for v2 GPL (no "or greater" clause). Additionally, individual contributors retain their copyright, so every one of them would need to be tracked down and agree to the new version. That's not an impossible task -- when mozilla went GPL, they did it, and when sourceforge went closed source, they did it (although most contributors told them to fuck
  • by MarkByers (770551) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:15PM (#18610089) Homepage Journal
    The Novell - Microsoft deal was the best thing that could have happened to encourage free software developers to switch to using GPL v3.
    • by kinglink (195330)
      The fact they arn't running for the GPL v3 tells you something. That it's not perfect and far from it. GPL v3 is still debated.

      You're point is perfectly valid but my point is that it's not happening, and it probably should be.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jZnat (793348) *
        Nobody's running for it because it isn't even done yet. I wouldn't use an incomplete licence that has the possibility of not holding up in court, or having unintended consequences, etc. You can't just use a "beta" version of legal crap...
        • by kinglink (195330)
          There's a group of people against V3, including people for free software. that's where the lack of "running for it" is. The support just isn't there for the license that the GGP was suggesting.
  • by heinousjay (683506) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:46PM (#18610575) Journal
    From the Groklaw interview:

    "there is no possible ethical way you could use [a game console]"

    Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. I haven't laughed so hard in my life.
    • by fregaham (702982)
      Well, of course...

      According to RMS, using a non-free software is ethical only if you use it to make a Free Software replacement. Game consoles does not run code that is not signed by manufacturer, thus making it impossible to ever run Free Software.
      • According to RMS, using a non-free software is ethical only if you use it to make a Free Software replacement.

        Let's see if I understand his logic right. Is he saying that using Tetris [wikipedia.org] is ethical only if I use it to make LOCKJAW [pineight.com]? So what about songs or movies? How would one make a free replacement for one of those?

        Game consoles does not run code that is not signed by manufacturer, thus making it impossible to ever run Free Software.

        What free hardware is designed to sit on top of a television, receive input from four USB or Bluetooth gamepads, and play interactive video games? Do enough Free games support this play method?

        Another thing to ponder: Given the incompatibility between Creative Commons licenses and GNU licenses d

        • Let's see if I understand his logic right. Is he saying that using Tetris is ethical only if I use it to make LOCKJAW? So what about songs or movies? How would one make a free replacement for one of those?

          Pretty easily. Software is not anything special, really. Like all creative works, there is an idea and an expression of that idea. Copyright only protects expressions, and never protects ideas. So the idea of tetris -- the rules -- are not protected by copyright. Only the implementation is. So long as you
          • by tepples (727027)

            Songs and movies have underlying ideas too. The trick is getting as much of the idea as you want without going too far and getting into the expression. It's considered to be a continuum, lest pirates take an entire work, tweak it only very slightly, and claim to have not infringed since there is that slight difference in the expression. The line is very fuzzy. But you could certainly make a movie about a 1930's archeologist adventurer who fights Nazis without infringing on the Indiana Jones copyrights. You would just need to be cautious.

            You appear right about movies. So what would be the "underlying idea" behind an instrumental musical work?

            • Well, the same dichotomy does exist, but you'd really need someone more well-versed (no pun intended) in how music is structured and written to point out roughly where the dividing line would be. I can listen to music, and I know the law, but I don't really know the difference between a musical theme that generally lacks specific notes and an expression of that theme that has actual notes. Scenes a faire would be easier to pick out, OTOH. It's hard to describe them in text, but there are certain stock eleme
    • by Erris (531066) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @04:25PM (#18612155) Homepage Journal

      heinousjay thinks this is funny:

      "there is no possible ethical way you could use [a game console]"

      What's not funny is how the console may use you. The point of software freedom is to avoid malicious use by the software's owner of the type seen in cell phone tapping. If the software is not free, you can't know what the device is doing. Giving your money to people who abuse you is a bad idea. The viewpoint is extreme, but consistent and sensible.

      Now, something that is funny is Steve-o's iPod and Google "brainwash". [slashdot.org] The only reason he does not like either is because they represent another company's product. His language is just as disrespectful as his company and the picture drawn is simple bully.

      • Nothing like taking a situation to an insane extreme to illustrate a flimsy point.
      • by Mark Programmer (228585) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @05:00PM (#18612649) Homepage
        If the software is not free, you can't know what the device is doing.

        I hate to be the devil's advocate on this argument, because I really like free software (though I can't bring myself to whole-kool-aid on the morality argument)...

        The software being open-source doesn't give me the ability to know what the device is doing any more than the law being published and accessible gives me the ability to be my own lawyer. It merely allows lawyers (or independent software developers) to exist. Hundreds of thousands of lines of code go into modern working software, and a bit of trust on the part of the average end-consumer is strictly necessary regardless of the visibility nature. The average end-consumer simply doesn't have the time to learn enough computer science to eye-verify every line of code in every piece of software they run.

        I trust open-source because many eyes have seen it, and my experience has been that those eyes are not in heads that are actively engaged in the business of doing evil. I trust much closed-source from big companies because the situations where actively lying to the customer is long-term profitable are more rare than many think they are. It's true that only one of these avenues has even the potential for exploitation, but if we always kept to the safe paths we'd miss out on half the fun, eh?

        It's not a morality question. It's a risk-reward question.
        • The average end-consumer simply doesn't have the time to learn enough computer science to eye-verify every line of code in every piece of software they run. ... It's not a morality question. It's a risk-reward question.

          None of us has the time to verify everything, but it's much easier in the free software world. Distributions like Debian do a lot of the work for you, but the same auditing community that exists for non free software also works on free software. People are constantly monitoring their netw

          • These days, using free software is easier and more productive than using non free.

            Not if you want to play games, which you might recall was the subject of this thread.
            • >These days, using free software is easier and more productive than using non free.

              Not if you want to play games, which you might recall was the subject of this thread.

              Hmmm, you and Steve can go be "productive" with Xbox, yet another second rate thing. Don't tell him I said that, or he'll smash you with something heavy.

              I'll dream about Playstation 3 and ID Games while I slave away on other things without time, money or inclination to shop. Tuxcart, PlanetPenguin, Quake2 and other toys do it for

    • by HiThere (15173)
      Nice trimming of context.

      FWIW (and to supply only a little bit of context) when he said that he was so sleepy that he had to remain standing so that he wouldn't go to sleep during the interview. In such a case one can generally only respond properly with previously thought-out responses, and one doesn't notice even rather blatant consequences of what one says or does. (I once crossed a street with my eyes closed in such a state. Only later did I realize *THAT* I had been foolish, and it was the next day
    • "there is no possible ethical way you could use [a game console]" I want to understand this guy's philosophy well enough to be able to explain it in terms that don't draw guffaws. But I don't. Software that I pay for isn't an ethical question, it's just software that I pay for - it's my money, I spend it all the time. But I see the value in having an alternative that FOSS offers. So in that sense, I like his gist, but just can't buy it whole cloth when he makes such an absurd statement regarding ethics
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:48PM (#18610591) Journal
    GPLv3 is intended to keep a company from inserting covered by one or more of their patents from then suing downstream users of the modified code. As such it effectively lets them waive SELECTED patents.

    But does it also prevent them from suing somebody downstream who inserts (or uses/distributes code where some middle-man inserted) additional code that infringes on OTHER patents than the ones covering what they themselves inserted?

    IMHO it SHOULD do the former and not the latter. Otherwise distributing GPLv3ed code would effectively wipe out a company's entire patent portfolio - which would inhibit companies who have and value such a patent collection (if only for defense against others) from using GPLv3.

    But IANAL - and haven't even studied the draft. Can someone who understands law AND has studied the draft tell us if this pitfall was avoided?
    • by Lockejaw (955650)

      GPLv3 is intended to keep a company from inserting covered by one or more of their patents from then suing downstream users of the modified code.
      If they insert patented software into a GPL project, they still have to license the new patent-encumbered version to other users under the GPL. Wouldn't that make it hard to make an infringement case when the licensees do things like modify and redistribute the code, which the license explicitly allows?
      • If they insert patented software into a GPL project, they still have to license the new patent-encumbered version to other users under the GPL.

        And they do. No problem there.

        My issue is with OTHER people taking the stuff they modified (which thus carries a license to the patents they intended to license) and inserting MORE code in a way that infringes OTHER of their patents that they DIDN'T intend to license. They should still be able to sue over THOSE infringements.

        If they can't, releasing GPLed code woul
  • Tricky section (Score:4, Interesting)

    by quantaman (517394) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:05PM (#18610851)
    There was an interesting bit about how they're dealing with the Novell-Microsoft agreement.

    The other paragraph, and these are both in section [11], is aimed at the Novell side in the deal, which is, it says that if you distribute the program under an arrangement you made with someone else, to gain promises of patent safety for your customers in a discriminatory way, then you're violating the licence and you lose your right to distribute.

    This actually has a few more conditions because we were trying to avoid covering certain other things, for instance, consider a patent parasite, one of those companies that has only one business which is to go around threatening people with patent law suits and making them pay. When this happens, the businesses that are attacked often have no choice but to pay them off. We don't want to put them in a position of being GPL violators as a result. So we put in a condition: "this paragraph applies only if the patent holder makes a business of distributing software". Patent parasites don't. As a result, the victim of the patent parasites is not put in violation by this paragraph.
    I'm a little nervous about "this paragraph applies only if the patent holder makes a business of distributing software", does that mean all the parasite has to do is put up a site that says "download a copy of ls for only $10" and they're a distributor? Ok, that's a bit extreme but a lot of patent parasites are dying software companies who would likely be considered distributors. As well it's possible for this clause to be exploited. What's to stop the next SCO from selling all their patents to a patent parasite who in return gives them a license? They've sidestepped the clause entirely and the parasite can threaten to sue whoever they want (except Novell & customers).

    Really if one company is attacked for patent infringement on a piece of GPL'd software than every user is vulnerable and it's only a matter of time before the parasite makes the rounds through all the companies. I think the old form was better since it didn't allow a distributor to back down and pay them off, perhaps giving the community to gather and fight back. Of course the old version also allows an unscrupulous competitor to give their patents to a shell company with the understanding that the shell company will put the competition out of business...

    Damn, patents suck.
  • RMS? (Score:3, Funny)

    by tbfromny (705452) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:57PM (#18611693)
    Am I the only one who sees "RMS" and thinks "Root mean square"?
  • Seriously, the situation surrounding the GPL has strong parallels with that of critical portions of the Code of Federal Regulations governing nuclear power (10CFR Part 50)... 10 years ago.

    Even with a seemingly simple set of conditions (i.e., the license terms), someone will figure out a nuance or caveat that will challenge the conventional interpretation, and gum up the works for everyone else. Regulations (or licenses) are principally legal matters, and as such, precedents and case studies are key to u
  • The licenses for most software and other practical works are designed to take away your freedom to share and change the works. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free software - to make sure the software is free for all its users.

    YET ...

    we have designed this version of the GPL to prohibit the practice for those products.

    So which way is it? Are you giving or just not giving for everyone?

    • You are giving to someone who will give back.

      With the GPLv2, people can use patents to avoid giving back. They can use signed binaries to avoid giving back. These are the people we don't want to give to anymore.
      • by robpoe (578975)
        Isn't the GPL about FREEDOM ?

        If you have freedom, you have to take the bad with the good.

        Ya' know, kinda like the First Ammendment.

        • The GPL is about giving only to people who will give back. That's the whole point. The "freedom" refers to your rights to modify the software and share your modifications, not to distribute closed binaries.

          If you want to take the bad with the good, use BSD.
    • by spitzak (4019)
      Copyright is what prevents you from doing things. This new GPL is reducing the number of ways it allows you to violate the copyright. So it is granting freedom, just less than before.
  • Tivoisation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pyrroc (1064152)
    Caveat: I'm not an expert on exactly how the TiVo operates below the basic bash and web server add-ons that I use on my Series 1

    With my semi-informed viewpoint, I can see why TiVo did what they did.

    TiVo wasn't really ever in the hardware business, they provide subscription services. If I can modify the kernel I can intercept the low level calls that retrieve the unit number and steal the service by providing a different one.

    Then the next step is to let you run a modified kernel, but not let you use the ser
    • by EzInKy (115248)
      TiVo's need to counter theft of service does not excuse them from going against the author's intentions to allow users to modify and execute his software to suit their needs.
    • by jonwil (467024)
      The real reason why TiVo does what they do is to prevent people from being able to copy the recorded video off their TiVo.
  • Overload! (Score:1, Troll)

    by Jekler (626699)
    • "...think of free speech, not free beer."
    • Zero indexing the four freedoms
    • GNU is a recursive acronym
    • copyleft
    I wish RMS would spend a lot less time working on grammatical cleverness. It's made worse by his compulsive need to explain his jokes (to let you know just how clever he is) every single time he speaks. Get to the point already!
    • I'm with you, man. I agree with about 90% of his message, but the way he delivers it makes me rethink my position every time I read something of his.

      I guess it's more to do with the fact that his entire world is some insane version of reality where computers are the most important thing than anything else.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

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