Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
GNU is Not Unix Slashback

GPLv2 Vs. GPLv3 567

Posted by kdawson
from the feature-not-a-bug dept.
chessweb writes "Here is a rather enlightening article by Richard Stallman on the reasons for moving to GPLv3 that puts the previous TiVo post into the right context." From the article: "One major danger that GPLv3 will block is tivoization. Tivoization means computers (called 'appliances') contain GPL-covered software that you can't change, because the appliance shuts down if it detects modified software... The manufacturers of these computers take advantage of the freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do likewise... GPLv3 ensures you are free to remove the handcuffs. It doesn't forbid DRM, or any kind of feature. It places no limits on the substantive functionality you can add to a program, or remove from it. Rather, it makes sure that you are just as free to remove nasty features as the distributor of your copy was to add them."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

GPLv2 Vs. GPLv3

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As a consultant for several large companies, I'd always done my work on
    Windows. Recently however, a top online investment firm asked us to do
    some work using Linux. The concept of having access to source code was
    very appealing to us, as we'd be able to modify the kernel to meet our
    exacting standards which we're unable to do with Microsoft's products.

    Although we met several technical challenges along the way
    (specifically, Linux's lack of Token Ring support and the fact that we
    were unable to defrag its ext2 fi
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I preferred this troll with the "kernel-level programming in
      visual basic"

      Kids today ...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2007 @03:49AM (#19378935)
      So it is okay for you to use everyone else's hard work for free, but not for anyone else to use your hard work?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to its source code released. This was simply unacceptable.
      This is wrong - source code for programs compiled under gcc or smilar DOES NOT have to be released
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by stevied (169) *
      RTFGPL Myths [oss-watch.ac.uk].
    • by simong (32944) on Monday June 04, 2007 @03:58AM (#19378981) Homepage
      I smell screed here. If you couldn't modify the Windows kernel to meet your 'exacting standards' what did you do? How were you aware of Linux if you weren't aware of the culture and philosophy surrounding free and open source software? What changes did you make to the kernel that were so important that you couldn't release them? And why, in the name of God, are you still using Token Ring? What's to bet that if I put a sentence of this into Google, that I would find it word for word somewhere else?
    • by Pofy (471469) on Monday June 04, 2007 @04:04AM (#19379029)
      Wouldn't it have been better to simply post a link to were you copied this forum post from?

      http://news.com.com/5208-1030_3-0.html?forumID=1&t hreadID=2246&messageID=11919&start=-1 [com.com]

      Of course, it would not make it any more correct than it was back then.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Nice to see a classic troll still catching the idiots.

      (It is one of egg troll's many masterpieces [google.co.uk])
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tanuki64 (989726)

      Although we had planned for no one outside of this company to ever use, let alone see the source code, we were now put in a difficult position. We could either give away our hard work, or come up with another solution. Although it was tought to do, there really was no option: We had to rewrite the code, from scratch, for Windows 2000.

      Yada-yada-yada. Don't you know that everything that runs on Windows 2000 automatically belongs to Microsoft? No? Fortunately this statement is as much FUD as yours. But I rea

  • by Darkon (206829) on Monday June 04, 2007 @03:49AM (#19378929)
    One rule for Tivo and another rule for IBM?

    Why should I have less right to install modified code on my mainframe than on the box under my TV?

    For all Stallman's huffing and puffing about defending freedom, it sounds like he caved in to big business here.
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      Can you point to the relevant quote from the article? I did a search for "consumer products" (without quotation marks) and found none.
      • by aussie_a (778472) on Monday June 04, 2007 @03:59AM (#19378995) Journal
        Aaah, nevermind. Found it myself after searching through Stallman's dogma a bit more carefully.

        The ban on tivoization applies to any product whose use by consumers, even occasionally, is to be expected. GPLv3 tolerates tivoization only for products that are almost exclusively meant for businesses and organizations. (The latest draft of GPLv3 states this criterion explicitly.)
        • by cparker15 (779546) on Monday June 04, 2007 @11:07AM (#19383061) Homepage Journal
          As a free software advocate (some may say zealot), this is where I cannot support the actions of the FSF. This exception is extremely hypocritical. Part of the GPL spirit has been freedom for everyone, regardless of tax status. I agree with the root comment, only it's not just RMS who is thinking this way, as RMS isn't the sole author of GPLv3. The FSF officially stating that Tivoization is okay in any circumstance does not set a good example. They might as well be saying, "Yeah, we love freedom, but only most of the time."

          Regardless of how you look at it, Tivoization turns free software into proprietary software. The FSF is blessing this. What happened to the Four Freedoms?

          Quotes from two prominent FSF essays (emphasis mine):

          1. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
          2. The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
          3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
          4. The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
          A program is free software if users have all of these freedoms.
           
          ...

          The freedom to use a program means the freedom for any kind of person or organization to use it on any kind of computer system , for any kind of overall job, and without being required to communicate subsequently with the developer or any other specific entity.
           
          ...

          Free software is about freedom, and enforcing the GPL is defending freedom. When we defend users' freedom, we are not distracted by side issues such as how much of a distribution fee is charged. Freedom is the issue, the whole issue, and the only issue.
          My question for the people at the FSF who've made the decision to allow the tivoisaztion exception: What happened?
    • by jkrise (535370)
      I think this is a subtle but neat sidestep by the GPL authors. Let's say IBM tivo-ises it's hardware, and only 'TPM approved' apps will run. They stand to get exposed as enemies of Free Software amongst the user community. It's difficult to think of any 'general-purpose-hardware' manufacturer adopting tivo-isation, because the market would buy from the competition instead.

      Of course, if one is buying AS400s aka white elephants, there's hardly any point complaining about vendor lock-in since no one else make
      • by Ravnen (823845) on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:22AM (#19379521)
        The interesting part of it is that if you can reliably control what is run on the hardware, the costs can be transferred from the buyer/user of the hardware to others. This means the hardware can potentailly be sold at a lower price than more open hardware, allowing it to gain a competitive advantage if the reduction in functionality is smaller, in monetary terms, than the reduction in the price. If this is the case, both the buyer and the seller can also be said to be better off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dreamchaser (49529)
      For all Stallman's huffing and puffing about defending freedom, it sounds like he caved in to big business here.

      That's because he has.

      As for the greater issue of the GPL 3, I don't have much doubt that a lot of business that were considering going to FOSS based solutions will take pause and adopt a 'wait and see' approach while the lawyers sort things out. I'm not arguing the pro's and con's of it; I'm just making an educated guess based on many years in business. The net result may actually be a slowdown
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2007 @06:12AM (#19379849)
      Ok. If I go out and release a professional quality piece of software. Now this arbitrary "consumer clause" would allow commercial manufacturers to rip off my software, place it on tivoized closed hardware and sell it. My software was meant to professional use all along, even though I wanted it to be Free Software.

      I thought GPLv3 would protect me, individual free software developer, from this nonsense. But now, what used to be a loophole in GPLv2 is now a right written down for commercial entities to go hunt and close down free software. I sincerely hope somebody will understand and fix this problem before GPLv3 goes final.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JimDaGeek (983925)
        While a company could Tivoize your code in locked-down hardware, they still have to release ALL changes to your code. However, I too would like to see an optional clause that the developer can choose whether to allow "Tivoization" or not.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Phisbut (761268)

        Ok. If I go out and release a professional quality piece of software. Now this arbitrary "consumer clause" would allow commercial manufacturers to rip off my software, place it on tivoized closed hardware and sell it. My software was meant to professional use all along, even though I wanted it to be Free Software.

        FTA: GPLv3 tolerates tivoization only for products that are almost exclusively meant for businesses and organizations.

        "Professional quality" doesn't mean "meant for businesses and organizations

  • Interessing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by franksands (938435)

    Stallman always talks about freedom and all that, but what if I want to write a new DRM system? The software license should not tell you what you can or cannot code.

    In a more /. speak: In GPL3 land, the license programs you!

    I am completely against DRM, but I am completely in favor fo free will. People should have the right to code whatever they want. Ok, obviously, GPL3 is not compulsory, so you can release things in GLP2 if you want, but this does not change the fact that version 3 is removing freedoms f

    • Re:Interessing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by budword (680846) on Monday June 04, 2007 @04:11AM (#19379079)
      You are free to code any damn thing you want. If you use GPLv3 code you need to respect the wishes of the writers of that code, code you use for free. Release your own code under any damn license you want to. It's yours. If you don't like the terms of GPLv3 then don't use it, and certainly don't complain about code others wrote and gave to you without cost, asking only that you return the favor, and release any improvements you DISTRIBUTE back for others to use and improve. If you don't like GPLv3, just don't use it.
      • by Bandman (86149)
        This likewise goes for several other software sources.

        If you don't like the free binary NVidia drivers, don't use them. Don't complain about drivers that someone else wrote and gave to you without cost.
    • by dattaway (3088)
      You can DRM using GPL3 all you want, but the code has to be free. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
      • by bentcd (690786)

        You can DRM using GPL3 all you want, but the code has to be free. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

        This only means that DRM will need to be implemented in the way that DRM should have been implemented all along (to the extent that DRM should exist, anyway): it will need to make use of PKI to ensure that each consumer has his own key with which to unlock his licensed content. This key, not being part of the source code, means that the implementation can be open while the DRM can be bullet proof right up until the final conversion to analog.

        Interestingly, therefore, GPLv3 will tend to lead to the developm

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by skrolle2 (844387)
      Uh, what?

      You are free to code whatever you want, including a new DRM system.

      You are free to license your code with whatever license you want, including the GPL.

      If you release your shiny new DRM system under the GPL, you need to release the source-code for it. Releasing the source-code for a DRM system is a pretty stupid thing to do since it will make your DRM system a lot easier to circumvent. Why would you even consider releasing a DRM system under some sort of open source license?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eMbry00s (952989)
        Same reason for why we'd release anti-virus programs (Clam AV) or web servers (Apache) under open source licenses. It helps us continually improve the software, and helps us remove any flaws that are disclosed.

        DRM often works in this way: You have "the lock", your method, the software. This is what they want to work without flaws. Then they have "the key", which are some sort of crypto key. What they want is the usage of the lock and key to be unnoticable by the user. Letting people improve the lock does no
  • From Stallman's piece:

    Microsoft's lawyers are not stupid, and next time they may manage to avoid those mistakes. GPLv3 therefore says they don't get a next time. Releasing a program under GPL version 3 protects it from Microsoft's future attempts to make redistributors collect Microsoft royalties from the program's users.

    Someone knows what these 'mistakes' are? Does it mean Novell's lawyers were stupid / pretending to be fools... in order to confuse the Free Software market?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by babbling (952366)
      Their agreement with Novell requires them to distribute GPL'ed software, but the GPLv3 will not permit them to do so unless they agree not to use their patents against other GPLv3 software.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2007 @04:18AM (#19379133)
    On Services... (yeah, what -did- happen to that SAP bit?)
    One major danger that GPLv3.1 will block is Googlization. Googlization means services contain GPL-covered software that you can't change, because the product is never published and so no source code has to be provided. The manufacturers of these services take advantage of the freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do likewise. GPLv3.1 new services clause ensures you are free to remove the handcuffs.

    On network-enabled devices...
    One major danger that GPLv3.2 will block is Xboxization. Xboxization means devices contain GPL-covered software that connect to a network that you can't change, because the network shuts you out if it detects modified software... The manufacturers of these devices take advantage of the freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do likewise... GPLv3.2's new network clause ensures you are free to remove the handcuffs.

    On ATI/nVidia Linux drivers..
    One major danger that GPLv3.3 will block is BLOBization. BLOBization means software packages containing GPL-covered software that communicate to a non-GPL-covered piece of binary software (BLOB) that you can't change, because the BLOB is not covered by the GPL... The developers of these BLOBs take advantage of the freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do likewise... GPLv3.3's new network clause ensures you are free to remove the handcuffs.

    On not having to GPL programs compiled using GCC..
    One major danger that GPLv4 will block is GPL-less compiling. GPL-less compiling means programs created using GPL-covered software that you can't change, because the actual program contains no GPL-covered source code. The developers of these programs take advantage of the freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do likewise... GPLv4's derivative work clause ensures you are free to remove the handcuffs.

    On using e.g. The Gimp to create your graphics..
    One major danger that GPLv4.1 will block is artization. artization means original works of art created using GPL-covered software that you can't change, because the work is strictly non-GPL. The artists of these works take advantage of the freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do likewise... GPLv4.1's new GPL-created works clause ensures you are free to remove the handcuffs.

    On working around the GPL by re-implementing (much the same that free software developers re-implement things covered by patents)..
    One major danger that GPLv4.2 will block is reimplementation. reimplementation means software programs developed based on, but re-implemented in a different way of, GPL software that you can't change, because the work is not GPL. The developers of these programs take advantage of the freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do likewise... GPLv4.2's new GPL-reimplementation clause ensures you are free to remove the handcuffs.

    On using GPL software internally only...
    One major danger that GPLv5 will block is in-houseation. in-houseation means software programs based on, developed with, and so forth and so on as set forth in the other clauses, that is only used in-house that you can't change because the source code need not have been made available. The developers of these programs take advantage of the freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do likewise... GPLv5's new out-house clause ensures you are free to remove the handcuffs. ...

    And so forth and so on. It should be pretty clear that the GPL is all about freedom - pure and utter total freedom to do as you wish without restriction, as long as the product of this doing is available to everybody else to do with as they wish without restriction as well. Whether this is truly freedom or not (i.e. as opposed to the BSD-style licenses) is a never-ending debate.
    • by MadTinfoilHatter (940931) on Monday June 04, 2007 @04:59AM (#19379401)

      I'm getting tired of hearing this same argument ("The GPL is supposed to be about freedom, but look at all the restrictions it imposes!!!") in various different incarnations pop up every time the GPL is discussed. Everyone try to understand this simple fact, so that we can stop having this pointless discussion every time:

      Freedom is a limited resource, because one man's freedom is another man's restriction.

      Don't believe me? Let's take some examples: If I'm to be free to do anything* I want in my own home, that means you're not free to do anything you want in my home. Now that's a perfectly reasonable freedom for me, and restriction for you to have, which is why society generally supports this freedom/restriction.
      *) Within reason. I.e. stuff I do in my own home that has major impact outside of isn't included.

      Let's take another example. The first amendment of the US Constitution starts with the words "Congress shall make no law..." In other words, the freedom of the individual comes at the price of the freedom of government.

      I've said it before, and I've said it again: RMS & FSF have been perfectly open about what they want to achieve with the GPL, and why. Stop treating them like hypocrites. There are plenty of hypocrites in the IT world, but RMS isn't (AFAIK) one - and he's definitely not one because of the restrictions of the GPL. If you don't support the view of the FSF, then that's fine, but don't back up your standpoint with flawed logic

      • by Chris_Mir (679740) on Monday June 04, 2007 @06:07AM (#19379821)
        Freedom is a limited resource, because one man's freedom is another man's restriction.

        Very correct!

        So one should see the freedom thing into the right perspective. Freedom in GPL is clearly targeted to the end-user of the software, and therefor restricting the developer/publisher of the software. On the other hand, freedom in BSD is targeted to the developer/publisher of the software in question and therefor can expose restrictions to the end-user.

        So both might be equally free, but just for a different audience. Tivo's lil' trick takes away the freedom from the audience GPL is meant for, hence V.3
    • Good post - but it can be said much more economically by adapting the words of one of the most respected thinkers of the early 21st century:

      TiVO and Microsoft never stop thinking of new ways to harm the Open Source community.
      Neither do we.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by strider44 (650833)
      I'm not sure why your post is seen as relevant. None of it applies to the GPL:

      Web Services isn't even a loophole - you don't distribute the software so it doesn't come under copyright distribution and so the GPL wouldn't apply here. Same for "in-houseation" and reimplementation. You really need to have a look at copyright law if you think that the GPL (a copyright distribution license not a EULA) can restrict this. Users don't agree to the GPL.

      I'm not sure how your "networkisation" is actually fea
      • by strider44 (650833) on Monday June 04, 2007 @06:10AM (#19379845)
        Let me rephrase quickly what I meant about "users don't agree to the GPL". This is the most often misinterpreted part of the GPL.

        The GPL is a copyright license not an end user license agreement. As such, it only covers distribution of software. When you get a piece of GPL software, you do not need to agree to the GPL, and you're under no obligation to abide by its terms. You only need to agree to it when you distribute GPL software.

        As such when you modify software in-house, or you put the software on a web server, you are under no obligation to obey the GPL since you're not actually distributing the software. Since the GPL purposely doesn't restrict you on running the software there's no obligation to distribute the code.
    • One by one (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Monday June 04, 2007 @08:11AM (#19380829) Homepage
      > One major danger that GPLv3.1 will block is Googlization. Googlization means services contain
      > GPL-covered software that you can't change, because the product is never published and so no
      > source code has to be provided.

      This was actually up for GPLv3, but meet too much resistance through the review process.

      > One major danger that GPLv3.2 will block is Xboxization. Xboxization means devices contain
      > GPL-covered software that connect to a network that you can't change, because the network shuts
      > you out if it detects modified software...

      Xboxization would require DRM restrictions already forbidden in GPLv3.

      > On ATI/nVidia Linux drivers.. One major danger that GPLv3.3 will block is BLOBization.
      > BLOBization means software packages containing GPL-covered software that communicate to a
      > non-GPL-covered piece of binary software (BLOB) that you can't change, because the BLOB is not
      > covered by the GPL...

      This is already forbidden in GPLv2, the only reason ATI/nVidia can do it is because Linux is considered covered by "GPLv2 plus an implicit exception for binary BLOBs". Well, that and the fact the legal power to enforce GPL to people not actually distributing any GPL'ed software (but only binary BLOBs intended to link with GPL'ed software) is somewhat dubious. A new version of the GPL will not change either of these.

      > One major danger that GPLv4 will block is GPL-less compiling. GPL-less compiling means programs
      > created using GPL-covered software that you can't change, because the actual program contains no
      > GPL-covered source code.

      This is kind of silly, as the tools where this could actually be enforced (like GCC and Bison where non-trivial GPL'ed code is usually included in the result) has specific exceptions to allow "GPL-less compiling". For Bison, this exception was added recently.

      > One major danger that GPLv4.1 will block is artization. artization means original works of art
      > created using GPL-covered software that you can't change, because the work is strictly non-GPL.

      How is this different from the previous point?

      > One major danger that GPLv4.2 will block is reimplementation. reimplementation means software
      > programs developed based on, but re-implemented in a different way of, GPL software that you
      > can't change, because the work is not GPL.

      Given that the core of GNU is re-implementations of proprietary work, this goes beyond silly. It is also unenforceable with copyright law, you'd need a "copyleft" for patents instead (which has been suggested (albeit not by the FSF): This patent can be used by anyone who shared their own patents in a similar way).

      > One major danger that GPLv5 will block is in-houseation. in-houseation means software programs
      > based on, developed with, and so forth and so on as set forth in the other clauses, that is only
      > used in-house that you can't change because the source code need not have been made available.

      This would violate freedom 0 [gnu.org], which would mean a clear breach of the contract signed to everyone who has ever donated software to the FSF. The FSF has already declared licenses with a "anti-in-houseation" clause for non-free with reference to freedom 0.

      > And so forth and so on.

      Actually, only your first suggestion had any basis in reality. The rest seemed made up with the sole purpose of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about the future of the GPL.
  • Further advantages of GPLv3 include better internationalization, gentler termination, support for BitTorrent, and compatibility with the Apache license.
    What does the bit about BitTorrent refer to?
    • Re:Bit torrent (Score:4, Informative)

      by MadMidnightBomber (894759) on Monday June 04, 2007 @04:42AM (#19379297)

      "Certain decentralized forms of peer-to-peer file sharing present a challenge to the unidirectional view of distribution that is implicit in GPLv2 and Draft 1 of GPLv3. It is neither straightforward nor reasonable to identify an upstream/downstream link in BitTorrent distribution; such distribution is multidirectional, cooperative and anonymous. In systems like BitTorrent, participants act both as transmitters and recipients of blocks of a particular file, but they see themselves as users and receivers, and not as distributors in any conventional sense. At any given moment of time, most peers will not have the complete file."

      Problem is that you could then in theory ask any BT user to provide the source code for that binary. More here: http://gplv3.fsf.org/bittorrent-dd2.html [fsf.org]

  • Frankly I have to be honest, I am no longer directly in the programming field, but about seven years ago I worked developing web-based applications. I was a big fan of open source at the time, as there were some solutions out there in FOSS land that would do what we needed with some tweaking. In my opinion, it would have sped up development time by at least a couple months. Which at that time, faster to market was always better.

    We discussed it and the company president was worried something like the GP

  • Many people complain about GPL being less Free than the BSD license. They miss the point.
    GPL wants to ensure that all modification to the code remains free. BSD allows you to do anything to the code, including making it proprietary. Remember Windows' TCP/IP stack used to behave identically to BSD's, hinting to same underlying code.
    So if you realease code version n under the BSD license, sure, users of n can do whatever they god damn want. But it does not ensure anything for users n+1. GPL, on the other hand, ensures that users of n+1 enjoy exactly the same liberty. So, while BSD users have more immediate liberty, users of GPL have more long-term (in the sense of derived works) liberty.
    Ask HP-UX, AIX, Irix, and Solaris users if they enjoyed the same liberty the BSD gave to HP, IBM, Silicon Graphics, and Sun. Ask Linux users if they enjoy the same liberties as the kernel hackers have.
    So which license gives more liberty? Well, in the short-term, BSD. On the long term, GPL.

    As a developer providing code, selecting the license depends on where you want it to go. Do you want it to spread as far and wide as possible, at the expense of the original code? Go BSD. Do you want the original code to enjoy improvements brought from other people, at the expense of how far it'll spread? GPL.
    As a developer using free code, sure, BSD is so much easier to use. You can use it at work on your proprietary product that feeds your kids! It's harder to make a business model around GPL code, though (yes, I know there are many examples out there, but they still remain the [loudly publicized] exception to the rule).

    I really like the example of ODE (a game physics library). It is licensed under LGPL and BSD, but really, it seems most people use it as BSD. I know it's been used by Crytek (they contributed changes back), and I've heard it's been ported to the PS2, XBOX, and PS3. This is something that only the BSD license allowed, because the NDA of the devkits for those consoles implicitly prohibits the use of LGPL or GPL code in games, as the changes contributed back to the GPL/LGPL code will give hints of what's behind the NDA, and furthermore the developers cannot provide you with an object file that you can link with the GPL/LGPL code.

    There are two sides of the coin, here: the contributors to the mainstream ODE library are happy to know their work is used in awesome places like those consoles. However, the mainstream code is none the wiser: those changes have never made it back to the main tree.

    So what do you want? Your code to be improved upon by the community, or thrown into the wind, never to see those improvements come back, but knowing it went much farther than it ever could if you tied it down with the GPL?

    It really is two different things, and saying that one is more restrictive than the other is missing the point.
  • by anwyn (266338) on Monday June 04, 2007 @08:43AM (#19381137)
    Suppose that Darth wants to do something bad with some Free software. The GPL prevents Darth from doing this, when it works, by a two step process.
    1. Darth realizes that he is doing something that requires a license under applicable copyright law. The GPL is the only license available.
    2. The provisions of the GPL do not allow what Darth wants to do, so that Darth can not use GPL as a license if he does it.

    Suppose that Darth goes ahead and does it anyway, what does the enforcement process look like? Darth gets sued under copyright law, like IBM did against SCO with IBM's counter claims. The free software side has to prove two things:

    1. Darth has done something that requires a license under applicable copyright law.
    2. The GPL does not protect Darth because Darth has not abided by its terms.

    In order the suit to be successfull against Darth, both steps have to succeed. Step (2) can be optimized by the FSF, by adjusting the terms of the GPL, to make it as difficult as possible for Darth. The GPLv3 is an improvement in this process. Step (1) is the step that the FSF can not control, because the applicable copyright law is written by the legislature (in the U.S. that would be congress), not by the FSF! Therefore, step (1) is the weak point! If Microsoft is ever sued under the copyright law because of the coupons, Microsoft will attack the week point of the argument (1). This is what Microsoft's lawyers will say:

    Microsoft has not and will not agree with any version of the GPL. Distributing these coupons does not require a license under applicable copyright law. Distributing coupons is not distributing software in the meaning of copyright law. Therefore the terms of the GPL (both versions) are irrelevant. The expiration date of the coupons is irrelevant. Game over.

    The key assertion in the above is:

    Distributing coupons is not distributing software in the meaning of copyright law.

    If Microsoft can win on the key assertion. Then it will win. If the lawyers for the free software side can knock out the key assertion then they will win.

    Why do the coupons exist in the first place? Why did not Microsoft just hand out SuSE installation DVDs? The reason is obvious. Microsoft did not want to become a GNU/Linux distributor. The coupons are a dodge to get around this. The whole raison d'etre for the coupons was that that Microsoft avoid becoming a GNU/Linux distributor! Can anyone believe that Microsoft allowed the coupon scheme to proceed, without first getting on Lexis and finding out whether the scheme would work? It is guaranteed that in some Microsoft lawyer's briefcase, there is a brief. And that brief deleniates in excruciating detail why the coupon scheme does not make Microsoft a GNU/Linux distributor. And the brief was checked and rechecked by multiple lawyers before the coupon scheme was ever allowed to proceed.

    The free software argument against the MS-Novel coupon scheme, is a chain. And like any chain, it is only as strong as its weakest link. It is no good for free software advocates to sit back and congratulate themselves on how strong their strong point (2) is. Of course it is strong! The FSF deliberately designed the GPLv3 to make it strong! The point is, that Microsoft is not going to attack this strong point. Microsoft is going to attack the weak point (1).

    Instead of congratulating them selves, free software advocates should be critically examining their own arguments looking for weak points. And when they find one, they should research the caselaw looking for ways to shore up their arguments! They should not be replying to the weak points with mere repeated assertion of what they hope should be true, instead they should do some real scholarship.

    Let us not forget the anti-patent provisions of GPLv2 [fsf.org]! It includes an "im

  • Good God! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Danathar (267989) on Monday June 04, 2007 @09:13AM (#19381453) Journal
    If you don't like the GPL...don't use it. If you like the BSD license, use it.

    If you don't like the fact that the GPL software you are using to develop your proprietary software has a GPL license then that is YOUR fault.

    People who bitch about the GPL are the people that don't believe in the GPL and don't agree with the FSF's ideas. Duh. They get upset because they can't use GPL sofware like software under the BSD license.

    It's not YOUR license. It's the FSF's license. They get to write it with whatever input they accept. It's not YOUR software you are using to develop whatever you are developing (if you didn't write it). The authors get to decide legally how you can use it. If it's the GPL and you don't like it? Too bad.

    Freedom does not include the right to force somebody else to do your bidding. That's called enslavement.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Monday June 04, 2007 @02:54PM (#19386153)
    It's kind of insane to think that this will stop anything. The PS3 runs Linux (a generic PPC Linux no less) with no problems at all. It sure as hell does not mean you can access the proprietary portions of the PS3 that Sony don't want you to see. Why? Because Linux is running over a virtualized set of hardware. I'm sure if push came to shove that Tivo would do exactly the same thing, ensuring whatever code or functionality they wished to hide stayed hidden.

Sentient plasmoids are a gas.

Working...