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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 @02:46PM (#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.

  • Complexity (Score:1, Insightful)

    by N7DR (536428) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:53PM (#18609761) Homepage
    If it needs to be explained to intelligent people, it's too complicated.
  • by MarkByers (770551) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:15PM (#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.
  • Re:Complexity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:18PM (#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.

  • by gormanly (134067) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:21PM (#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.

  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:23PM (#18610211)
    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 legal document means when interpreted as a legal document. This is the source of most of the confusion around most versions of the GPL.

    If you read the GPL faq (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html) you get FSF's==RMS's interpretation of the GPL, but since that faq is not actually part of the GPL it is not binding on anyone's interpretation of the GPL.

    A classic case in GPL2 is the handling of soft vs hard linking which is often debated. This is not mentioned in the GPL, though it is in the LGPL and faq - niether of which are binding on the GPL.

  • by Geof (153857) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:44PM (#18610529) Homepage

    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 of the law, because you don't have to hire a lawyer every time you want to let someone use your software, because if you do let someone modify your software you don't have to worry about them turning around and suing you for using with the modified version, because there is a community to provide you with support and might even help you if your license is violated.

    [1] I am aware that copyright is supposed to apply to the representation of an idea, not the idea itself. If you can figure out a way to reliabily differentiate the two, maybe you do know how to simplify copyright.

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

    by fregaham (702982) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:48PM (#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 EsbenMoseHansen (731150) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @04:07PM (#18610875) Homepage

    The switch to using GPL v3 is the best thing that could have happened to closed source because it will blow the OSS community apart into incompatibly licenced pieces.

    A sad day indeed.

    Unlikely, in my humble opinion. Let's go for worst case... about half of the software projects out there currently under GPLv2 gets relicensed to GPLv3, and likewise for LGPL. Then there are 2 potential problems:

    1. Program A wants to use library B, but program A is (L)GPLv2 (but not later) and the library is GPLv3, or program A is (L)GPLv3 but the library is GPLv2 (but not later). In the former case, the only solution is to upgrade program A to GPLv3, and in the latter to downgrade to GPLv2 or latter. However, GPL'ed libraries are not very common, they tend to be LGPL.
    2. Programmer Margit wants to copy&paste some source code between a (L)GPLv3 program to a (L)GPLv2 or the other way around. Tough, she'll have to rewrite it, though she could use the code as inspiration. In practical terms, this is a small matter as copy+paste source code is seldom feasible.

    At least that's my analysis. Personally, I think a little change is good, keeps the spirit alive :)

    Another scenario is one of the million forks, but I think that would quickly settle down. So it doesn't worry me much.

    Looking at the GPLv3, I'm thinking... that license looks good for me. Even if Stallman's reputation as a human being is what it is, the license looks solid, and that has to be the important thing.

  • Re:Complexity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @04:16PM (#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?
  • by jZnat (793348) * on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @05:07PM (#18611839) Homepage Journal
    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 HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn AT earthlink DOT net> on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @05:28PM (#18612197)
    People want compatibility with various licenses, e.g. GPL v3 and Apache, so that code used in one can also be used in the other by someone other than the original author.
  • by cetialphav (246516) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @05:28PM (#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.
  • Tivoisation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pyrroc (1064152) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @06:37PM (#18613161)
    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 service any longer. I have a feeling that there would still be a tarring and feathering in the works should someone suggest that.

    Building out the infrastructure to counter theft of service on the TiVo side of the connection would probably be cost-prohibitive.

    TiVo was an awesome product... I still love my TiVo. I would hate to have squashed it before it began because they couldn't afford to counter theft of service.

    Just my $.02
    -Pyrroc
  • by CandyMan (15493) <javier@candeiraP ... minus physicist> on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @06:53PM (#18613345) Homepage
    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 are bound by your words.
  • by heinousjay (683506) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @07:55PM (#18614019) Journal
    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.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @09:02AM (#18619167)

    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 into a contract without being able to understand it, and it's not clear what significance an EULA would have for a user (compare "distributor") of the software unless it's some sort of contractual arrangement. At this point, we start getting into what you're actually paying for when you give a shop money for a shrinkwrapped software package, which copies made during installation would or wouldn't have implied permission, and all that jazz.

    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.

    At my employer (a software development organisation) the policy is very simple: any use of external software requires prior approval, and in the case of incorporating libraries with open licences within our own software products, that's going to mean an explicit check by the legal team on the exact wording of the licence for the specific use required. It follows that anything that makes a licence more complicated is going to increase the cost of using software with that licence, which in turn makes it less likely that such use will occur.

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