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GNU is Not Unix

Eben Moglen Leaving the FSF 75

An anonymous reader writes "Eben Moglen, general counsel and board member of the FSF and chairman of the SFLC, has announced on his blog that he will be resigning from his leadership position with the FSF now that GPLv3 draft 3 is out the door. "
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Eben Moglen Leaving the FSF

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  • Surprising. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pyite ( 140350 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @10:45AM (#18870461)
    I heard him on Leo Laporte's FLOSS Weekly podcast and was very impressed with his knowledge and was happy the FSF had such good leadership.

    • Thanks Eben (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Marcion ( 876801 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:11AM (#18870815) Homepage Journal
      From all us geeks out there, thanks for taking so much time out of your day job as a Professor to run the GPLv3 process.

      See you in a decade for GPLv4!!
    • Thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mateo_LeFou ( 859634 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:19AM (#18870925) Homepage
      Someone said Moglen is the Thomas Jefferson of the information age, and I'm inclined to agree.
    • Re:Surprising. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Workaphobia ( 931620 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @12:20PM (#18871773) Journal
      He's also an excellent speaker. I particularly like this quote from a DMCA discussion, in reference to the media industry:

      > "Now if you leave them alone to buy more congressmen, in this very corrupt time of ours, they will survive for a little while longer but all of this talk is about the technicalities of the adjustment of the terms of their demise. When we want to start talking about something that matters, we would do better to begin from some basic social propositions. Everybody is connected to everybody else, all data that can be shared will be shared: get used to it."

      Given his accent, this makes for a very interesting voice-over when combined with electronic music.
      • by Raenex ( 947668 )

        I particularly like this quote from a DMCA discussion, in reference to the media industry:
        "[..]all data that can be shared will be shared: get used to it."
        That means your personal data, too. "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." -- Scott McNealy.
  • It makes sense. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brennanw ( 5761 ) * on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @10:48AM (#18870505) Homepage Journal
    Eventually the all-consuming nature of that kind of job is going to wear you down. Getting out before it breaks you into a thousand pieces and then remakes you into a twisted version of yourself you barely recognize seems like a pretty good idea to me.
    • Getting out before it breaks you into a thousand pieces and then remakes you into a twisted version of yourself you barely recognize seems like a pretty good idea to me.

      RMS seems to be going down this path. Trying to fight closed hardware, DRM, MS/Novell, allow exceptions, try to be compatible with other licenses? I fear GPL3 is trying for too much.

      Can someone please explain what it means for licenses to be "compatible"? If I've got code under Apache license and code under the GPLv3, I assume those can n

      • Compatible licenses (Score:4, Informative)

        by PinkPanther ( 42194 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:24AM (#18871017)

        If I've got code under Apache license and code under the GPLv3, I assume those can not be merged anyway because each body of code says derivatives must be under the same license.

        Depends. If the copyright holder of one of those codes gives you permission to move their code under the other license (or if they do it themselves, say by you paying them to do so), then there is no problem.

        If you are not a copyright holder or if the body of code you want to move over is the culmination of many copyright holders, then with both Apache and GPL there is no problem you merging the codes as long as it is for your own use.

        You cannot merge the two codes and release the resultant as you have no right unless the way that you do it adheres to both licenses. Compatible licenses would allow you to merge code from two differently licensed projects without violating the terms of either.

      • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @12:02PM (#18871539) Homepage Journal
        It is true that RMS gives his whole life to his cause. I respect and admire him for doing so, and at the same time I wouldn't want to do that to my life. The load of causes upon FSF is not unusual for any organization that tries to enact social change. Look at some of the environmentalist organizations, for example. There are good parallels there, you might think of RMS as someone fighting against pollution in idea-space.

        A license is compatible with another if the terms of both licenses are not mutually exclusive. The BSD/MIT licenses, at least the later ones without the advertising restriction, are GPL compatible because they don't restrict anything that the GPL would permit.

        Having the ability to convert one license to another, or having the software available under multiple licenses, is a short-cut to compatibility with those licenses.

        We have our own tool-chain, and one that is very portable to new architectures. I think that GPL3 draft 3 would require the disclosure of some data regarding how the toolchain would interface to the hardware of a consumer device in which GPL3 software was embedded, including the instruction set, if that was not already public knowledge.

        Bruce

        • It is true that RMS gives his whole life to his cause. I respect and admire him for doing so, and at the same time I wouldn't want to do that to my life.
          Haven't you done just that? Sure, you haven't practically given up most of your private life, but i would say that your years in the Debian-Project, the OSI etc. did not leave your life untouched ;-) Thank you for the great work you did and are still doing!
          • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @12:48PM (#18872125) Homepage Journal

            Haven't you done just that? Sure, you haven't practically given up most of your private life, but i would say that your years in the Debian-Project, the OSI etc. did not leave your life untouched ;-) Thank you for the great work you did and are still doing!

            You're welcome! My son is 7 years old now, and of course it's important to spend time with him - you can't go back and fix mistakes you made with your kid. This is the major limit on how much I travel, why I haven't ever succeeded in getting time to go to Debconf or some of the other community conferences, etc. - I've got to be there for my kid. My wife wants some of my time too. And I have a job, so that I can put a roof over their heads. This is what Richard sacrifices, that I won't.

            Bruce

            • You have spent your time doing things that will result in a better world for your son to grow up in. I'm sure your son knows this already, and if not, he will soon. And in all probability he will learn from you and will grow up to accomplish great things as well. I don't always agree with you 100%, but I am very appreciative and respectful toward what you have done for the cause of software freedom and therefore freedom in general. I also respect the contributions of RMS, Eben Moglen, and everyone else
      • Re:Amen (Score:5, Informative)

        by Arker ( 91948 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @12:05PM (#18871589) Homepage

        What then does license compatibility really mean exactly?

        Two licenses are compatible if a licensee can fulfil the conditions of both licenses simultaneously. Another way of saying this is that two licenses are compatible if the requirements of one are a subset of the other. For example the BSD is compatible with the GPL, because it is possible to fulfill the conditions of both simultaneously, since all the BSD requires is a subset of the requirements of the GPL. So it is possible to legally use BSD code and GPL code in the same work.

        Wouldn't it be better to write other apps from scratch under GPL than alter the license to be compatible with certain apps license?

        That depends on how much work would be involved and what requirements the other license makes.

        There's no point to reïmplementing something already available under the (modern) BSD license, for instance. This should be fairly obvious.

        On the other hand, code available only under the old BSD license should probably all be reïmplemented entirely. The advertising clause may not look like much at first glance, but when you consider how many thousands of different copyrights might apply to a single commercial distribution, you can see what a nightmare that clause could become in time.

        On the third hand, consider the Sun license. It's not compatible with the GPL v2, because the GPL has a requirement that no further conditions may be added, and the Sun license has patent provisions that the GPL doesn't. This makes it legally impossible to use code under these two licenses together - they are incompatible. BUT, aside from the fact of incompatibility, there's nothing wrong with Suns license. The FSF had already stated they wanted to add similar patent provisions in the future, and a similar clause would probably have been in the GPL v2 had software patents been an issue when it was written. So in this case, making the GPL v3 compatible with Suns license might not be a bad idea at all - the details of wording may be a pain to work out, but the patent requirement itself is not onerous, to the contrary, it or something very much like it is a desirable addition anyway.

        What about DRM? GPL3 says you have to provide everything needed to make the app run. Does that mean the compiler too?

        No, of course not. Your paraphrase is not what the license says. The actual wording has been reviewed and revised very carefully. The DRM section doesn't say anything resembling what you wrote.

        3. No Denying Users' Rights through Technical Measures.

        No covered work shall be deemed part of an effective technological measure under any applicable law fulfilling obligations under article 11 of the WIPO copyright treaty adopted on 20 December 1996, or similar laws prohibiting or restricting circumvention of such measures.

        When you convey a covered work, you waive any legal power to forbid circumvention of technical measures to the extent such circumvention is effected by exercising rights under this License with respect to the covered work, and you disclaim any intention to limit operation or modification of the work as a means of enforcing, against the work's users, your or third parties' legal rights to forbid circumvention of technical measures.

        To paraphrase, you can't use Free Software to build a system and then use the DMCA to forbid modification of that system. That's it.

        There are no sections of the license that say anything more than vaguely resembling what you wrote. The definition of "Corresponding Source" for instance says:

        The "Corresponding Source" for a work in object code form means all the source code needed to generate, install, and (for an executable work) run the object code and to modify the work, including scripts to control those activities. However, it does not include the work's System Libraries, or

        • Just wanted to say thanks -- this is one of the better summaries of, and responses to the more common objections regarding, GPLv3, that I've seen.

        • by gr8_phk ( 621180 )
          Thanks for the good reply. Sorry about paraphrasing - I did that based my memory of an interview with RMS on some site. It's my memory of RMS paraphrasing the GPLv3. Agreed, the license is the last word. However, no one managed to explain compatibility to my satisfaction. Several (including you) mentioned the BSD which does not require derived works to be BSD licensed. I was under the impression that GPLv3 was trying to be compatible with the Apache license (and Eclipse). That does not appear possible becau
          • by Arker ( 91948 )

            BSDL, old or new, is nothing whatsoever like public domain. Both require copyright notices be preserved, and neither permits relicensing. This is a common misunderstanding - using code under compatible, but different, licenses does not involve relicensing. For instance using BSDL or X11/MIT code in a GPL project does NOT result in that code somehow being converted to GPL. It's still under the original license. It's simply being used in accordance with that original license, which is possible because the ter

        • by Adhemar ( 679794 )

          What then does license compatibility really mean exactly?

          Two licenses are compatible if a licensee can fulfil the conditions of both licenses simultaneously.

          You're right; that's the correct definition.

          Another way of saying this is that two licenses are compatible if the requirements of one are a subset of the other.

          If the requirements of one licence are a subset of the other, then the licenses are compatible. However, this sufficient condition is not a necessary condition. As long as the requirements are

          • by Arker ( 91948 )
            Quite correct. That usually means one is a subset of the other, but it's certainly possible for it not to mean that. Can you think of an actual example?
      • Can someone please explain what it means for licenses to be "compatible"? If I've got code under Apache license and code under the GPLv3, I assume those can not be merged anyway because each body of code says derivatives must be under the same license.

        It would work by the very definition of "compatible." If you can license the whole codebase under both licenses simultaneously without conflicting, then you distribute under both licenses. You can take BSD code, modify and re-release under the GPL if you w

    • by onion2k ( 203094 )
      Has that already happened to RMS? Or is there a barely recognizable twisted version of him on the horizon?

      I'm not sure I can even imagine something like that.
    • Of course, those thousand pieces are GPL'd so we can just fork a new FSF lawyer project.
    • Eventually the all-consuming nature of that kind of job is going to wear you down. Getting out before it breaks you into a thousand pieces and then remakes you into a twisted version of yourself you barely recognize seems like a pretty good idea to me.


      Sometimes you can also be more effective as a heckler rather than the guy behind the wheel. I don't think this is any kind of farewell. GPL3 will be done far before he's done with it.
  • New job (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I heard he took a job for Microsoft.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "all the recorded outrage has been emitted by Microsoft or its surrogates"

      No, it seems that Linus Torvalds took a job with Microsoft according to EM.
  • by humphrm ( 18130 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:01AM (#18870675) Homepage
    It should be noted that he's leaving the FSF board to devote more time to the SFLC [wikipedia.org]. Which means, less Eben in FSF but he's still going to be a strong contributor to the legal protections and mitigation of risk of software developers and projects who participate in Open Source Software.
    • by byolinux ( 535260 ) * on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:21AM (#18870965) Journal
      The FSF and the SFLC are about Free Software, not Open Source. Come on! It's in the name! :)
      • The FSF and the SFLC are about Free Software, not Open Source. Come on! It's in the name! :)
        From the SFLC homepage: "We provide legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance Free and Open Source Software." And the X.org project is an example of one of their clients that aren't connected to Free Software.
        • by Freed ( 2178 )
          Huh? You mean that X.org is not directly affiliated with the FSF. However, X.org certainly produces free software and thus is connected to it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by byolinux ( 535260 ) *
          Um, yeah... except X.org is free software, heck.. it's not GNU software, but even then it was adopted for the GNU Operating System in 1984.
    • by _|()|\| ( 159991 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:47AM (#18871369)

      Eben Moglen has been the highlight of the FSF member meetings. As much I respect Richard Stallman's accomplishments, he's just not that much fun to listen to, especially in discussion. For example, Lawrence Lessig gave a great presentation on the Creative Commons his first year on the board. (He gave one striking example of a home movie that someone made over the course of several years for the cost of a camera and a bunch of tapes; when it got picked up by a studio at a film festival, it cost $400,000 dollars to license the music and TV shows that happened to be playing in the background.) All Richard wanted to talk about was how evil Flash is.

      Eben tells you about some dire threat (usually from Microsoft), and how he and the little old FSF have a plan for it. I passed on the meeting this year, because I'm not that interested in GPL v3. I do hope Eben will continue to attend.

  • A brilliant guy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mw13068 ( 834804 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:10AM (#18870807)
    I've heard him speak at a few of the FSF Associate Member meetings, and I've even had conversation over dinner with him on one occasion, where he was telling the rest of us about the fledgling SFLC project. Just listening to him made me want to start law school (at Columbia, of course).

    I'm convinced he's working with a larger percentage of his brain than the rest of us.

    Creating the SFLC was a brilliant move, as was the drafting of the GPLv3.

    Best of luck, Eben!

    • by nomadic ( 141991 ) *
      Just listening to him made me want to start law school (at Columbia, of course).

      Resist the impulse!
  • Thanks to him and all the other great people who keep making sure we nerds get our software free and hackable. If I could afford it, I'd throw him a farewell party, but I guess I'll confine to a private celebration by myself. Hope it stays that way a long time, regardless of who leads GNU.
  • On Eben Moglen (Score:3, Informative)

    by Buddy_Gilapagos ( 583062 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:17AM (#18870907)
    Eben Moglen was the single most influential law school professor I ever had. I have never looked at the world the same since taking his classes.
  • ...this new effort to "reorganize time" he's embarking on. Maybe he could go back and make GPLv2 contain the same text as v3!
  • Eben, you have made the world a better place. Thank you for all your hard work, and I wish you the very best in all your endeavors.
  • Eben Moglen - sounds like someone with 97 HP and a mace of disruption.
  • Videos (Score:3, Informative)

    by eMbry00s ( 952989 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @12:32PM (#18871955)
    For some very nice informative talks, and good insight into the capabilities of Mr Moglen, check out some of these [google.com] videos. I especially like the google tech talk lecture.
  • Confused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Achromatic1978 ( 916097 ) <robert@nosPAM.chromablue.net> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @12:41PM (#18872043)
    Something doesn't sound right. He's leaving, because "draft three" is done? Does that mean that draft three will become GPLv3? Because unless it does, then the process isn't at all complete, and he's leaving for other reasons (not that those reasons have to be inherently bad), but "We've got our third draft revision of a document that we're still working on out the door, so it seems like a perfectly natural time to leave" jars my logic detector.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      According to his blog entry, he's hoping that either draft 3 will become GPLv3 or at least with very little modification.
  • by Freed ( 2178 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:15PM (#18872507)
    The current headline sucks. As stated in TFA, Eben Moglen is only leaving the FSF board of directors. Of course, his role of general counsel to the FSF, which long preceded the director role, will continue.
  • The one person (other than RMS) that's always pointed to by the more rabid GPL adherents, whenever they run out of ammo themselves, now abandon ships. He's not going to make sure (by his or RMS' super powers) that the GPL3 is going to prevail in court. What does that make you think? I think that your legal idol doesn't want to risk the cross. Now, how about you? How certain does that make you feel?

    Mod me down, I have karma burps.

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