Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Sep 2006 12:03 UTC, submitted by anonymous
GNU, GPL, Open Source "The Free Software Foundation wishes to clarify a few factual points about the Second Discussion Draft of GNU GPL version 3, on which recent discussion has presented inaccurate information. The FSF has no power to force anyone to switch from GPLv2 to GPLv3 on their own code. We intentionally wrote GPLv2 (and GPLv1) so we would not have this power. Software developers will continue to have the right to use GPLv2 for their code after GPLv3 is published, and we will respect their decisions."
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Good response to Linux Kernel Devs
by Ford Prefect on Tue 26th Sep 2006 12:58 UTC
Ford Prefect
Member since:
2006-01-16

This is a good and - if you're interested in this topic - important read!

To Quote:
"Contrary to what some have said, GPLv3 will not cause a company to "lose its entire [software] patent portfolio". It simply says that if someone has a patent covering XYZ, and distributes a GPL-covered program to do XYZ, he can't sue the program's subsequent users, redistributors and improvers for doing XYZ with their own versions of that program. This has no effect on other patents which that program does not implement."

So, one could use GPLv2 software as codebase. To comply with the licence, he releases his derived work also under GPLv2. But he added stuff he holds patents on. So nobody is actually allowed to *use* the code he has released.

As someone who writes free software and wants others to give back (therefor choosing GPL instead of BSD licence), it just makes sense to not allow them to use patents to make it impossible for me (and others) to use their derived work, doesn't it?

Reply Score: 5

Wrawrat Member since:
2005-06-30

As someone who writes free software and wants others to give back (therefor choosing GPL instead of BSD licence), it just makes sense to not allow them to use patents to make it impossible for me (and others) to use their derived work, doesn't it?

Perhaps, but it seems to go beyond the original roots of the licence.

At the beginning, the FSF was proudly claiming the GPL was solely based on copyright law. After all, it's all about sharing copyrighted work voluntarily. Since copyright law is known and (mostly) enforced everywhere in the world, then there was no worry on the legality of the licence. However, I believe the new sections are going beyond copyright law.

Patents, for example, are legislated by patent law. It's outside the scope of the copyright law, affecting even completely original works. I feel it might become difficult to enforce this rule in many juridictions. As At the same time, by acknowledging their existence, it seems to give some legitimity to software patents... Isn't something they are against? Is that something necessary when they are only accepted in an handful of countries?

As for DRM, I completely understand the idea behind it... yet it's just ironic they want to impose restrictions on them! However, the second draft is making a reference to the United State Code; I feel it might tighten the usefulness of the clause...

Right now, the goals of the GPLv3 look honorable. Yet, they can lead to deception if these changes cannot be enforced everywhere, thus leading to the invalidation of the licence in some parts of the world. We will see how the v3 will evolve, but it doesn't seem to bode very well to me.

Reply Score: 2

Ookaze Member since:
2005-11-14

Perhaps, but it seems to go beyond the original roots of the licence

No it doesn't seem to, as it was in GPLv2 already.

At the beginning, the FSF was proudly claiming the GPL was solely based on copyright law

Huh ? They never said that, as it's a license.

After all, it's all about sharing copyrighted work voluntarily. Since copyright law is known and (mostly) enforced everywhere in the world, then there was no worry on the legality of the licence. However, I believe the new sections are going beyond copyright law

Nonsense, it's a license. Copyright law kicks in as soon as you reject the license. A license always go beyond copyright law.
With copyright law, you basically couldn't use or distribute the source code.

Patents, for example, are legislated by patent law. It's outside the scope of the copyright law, affecting even completely original works. I feel it might become difficult to enforce this rule in many juridictions. As At the same time, by acknowledging their existence, it seems to give some legitimity to software patents... Isn't something they are against? Is that something necessary when they are only accepted in an handful of countries?

Obiously, you don't understand a thing about what a license is. The license is an agreement. It doesn't say anything about your patents, doesn't give legitimity to any of them. It just deals with the conditions under which you can use and distribute the source code.

As for DRM, I completely understand the idea behind it... yet it's just ironic they want to impose restrictions on them!

They don't, that's what lots of people have trouble understanding. They impose restrictions on how you can use GPL code with DRM.

Right now, the goals of the GPLv3 look honorable. Yet, they can lead to deception if these changes cannot be enforced everywhere, thus leading to the invalidation of the licence in some parts of the world. We will see how the v3 will evolve, but it doesn't seem to bode very well to me

This is the same BS thet FUDders say about GPLv2 : it isn't tested in courts. It actually has already been tested in courts, and most companies don't even want to go to the trial, because they would be denied the use of the GPL code at best, which means instant death for most of the infringers. So much for companies that would flee to proprietary code.

Reply Score: 3

Wrawrat Member since:
2005-06-30

No it doesn't seem to, as it was in GPLv2 already.

If it was explicitely stated, we wouldn't have this debate. GPLv2 states that you cannot distribute works under the GPL for which you cannot assure freedom (for example, a software for which you cannot provide the source code because of a court ruling).

With copyright law, you basically couldn't use or distribute the source code.

Not entirely accurate, since you can as long you have proper authorisation.

Nonsense, it's a license. Copyright law kicks in as soon as you reject the license. A license always go beyond copyright law [...] Obiously, you don't understand a thing about what a license is. The license is an agreement.

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. The GPL is strongly based upon "copyleft" principles, which uses copyright. Right now, the GPLv2 doesn't seem to stray too far from copyright. However, a patent clause asks for rights beyond copyright. The notion of copyright is pretty much the same around the world. This is not the case with patent law. Is such clause going to be accepted in every local juridiction? I do not doubt the competence of their lawyer team, but I believe they cannot foresight everything. As software patents are not granted everywhere, I have mixed feelings about such inclusions that might complicate the licence (and put it to interpretation) even further.

They don't, that's what lots of people have trouble understanding. They impose restrictions on how you can use GPL code with DRM.

Isn't exactly what I said? Restrictions. Not inherently bad, just ironic.

This is the same BS thet FUDders say about GPLv2 : it isn't tested in courts. [...]

Yes, I am fully aware it has been tested­, but this isn't about the GPLv2. I am not saying GPLv3 won't, I am just concerned that it tries to go too far. Some provisions of certain EULAs were deemed invalid; this is something we don't want here.

Reply Score: 1

Surely there must be...
by hhcv on Tue 26th Sep 2006 12:59 UTC
hhcv
Member since:
2005-11-12

something wrong/afoot when some of the most important GPL'd projects reject the proposal. It doesn't sound like an upgrade to me, but rather a fork. Give it a new name and lets get on with it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Surely there must be...
by eMagius on Tue 26th Sep 2006 13:15 UTC in reply to "Surely there must be..."
eMagius Member since:
2005-07-06

Give it a new name and lets get on with it.

As has been pointed out before, a forked GPL (i.e., a rename that is not clearly an "later version" of the GPL) would not be GPL[v2]-compatible by a strict reading of the GPL[v2] (and vice versa).

The last thing RMS wants to do is create a license that is entirely incompatible with all the GPLv2 code out there.

Reply Score: 2

Is it just me...
by Harald on Tue 26th Sep 2006 13:16 UTC
Harald
Member since:
2006-03-10

...or does anybody else think all of this is much ado about nothing?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Is it just me...
by jessta on Wed 27th Sep 2006 01:54 UTC in reply to "Is it just me..."
jessta Member since:
2005-08-17

it's just you.

Reply Score: 1

Don't trust FSF
by Marcellus on Tue 26th Sep 2006 13:40 UTC
Marcellus
Member since:
2005-08-26

It simply says that if someone has a patent covering XYZ, and distributes a GPL-covered program to do XYZ, he can't sue the program's subsequent users, redistributors and improvers for doing XYZ with their own versions of that program.

Even that is not something companies are likely to accept. For one thing, it would force them to check all the GPL3-covered software that they may be interested in distributing unchanged or changed, and its dependencies, etc. to find out wether or not it contains something that they hold a patent on and if they are willing to let it out. That would create additional costs that would make them turn to proprietary stuff right away instead.

People are wise to not trust FSF when it comes to GPL3. And it doesn't matter what they say about how clauses should be interpreted unless those clarifications are part of the license itself. Not to mention that the need for clarifications itself points to that the license is difficult to understand.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Don't trust FSF
by Ookaze on Tue 26th Sep 2006 14:57 UTC in reply to "Don't trust FSF"
Ookaze Member since:
2005-11-14

Even that is not something companies are likely to accept. For one thing, it would force them to check all the GPL3-covered software that they may be interested in distributing unchanged or changed, and its dependencies, etc.

It's unfortunate then, as it's what's implied in the GPLv2 in the USA, like the article says. Only problem was that it wasn't clear in other countries if it was implied too.
So basically, you're saying that companies are not likely to accept the GPLv2. I don't need to tell you how wrong you are.
Free Software must be very compelling for those companies to accept that, if we'd believe you.

People are wise to not trust FSF when it comes to GPL3

What does this mean ? The GPL is their license, and what you are chosing to use is the license, not the FSF.

And it doesn't matter what they say about how clauses should be interpreted unless those clarifications are part of the license itself

Actually, what you say doesn't matter. I can assure you that if all this story has a high profile, that's because GPLv3 (and so the FSF) matters to a lot of people.

Not to mention that the need for clarifications itself points to that the license is difficult to understand

Which the draft process is there to deal with. Most of the license is now clear to everyone.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Don't trust FSF
by PRaabjerg on Tue 26th Sep 2006 15:07 UTC in reply to "Don't trust FSF"
PRaabjerg Member since:
2006-09-23

And I wouldn't trust any company that's not willing to free all its patents on the GPL code it distributes.
In case you didn't read through the FSFs response, there's a similar "patent licence" clause already in GPLv2, which relies on US law. The only real change here, is that it's become explicit, and therefore valid in more countries.

The only semi-radical change I'm aware of, is the new DRM stuff, which I can only agree is necessary. If DRM is really here "to stay", as many claim, then yes, this is absolutely necessary for the sake of software freedom.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Don't trust FSF
by binarycrusader on Tue 26th Sep 2006 22:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Don't trust FSF"
binarycrusader Member since:
2005-07-06

And I wouldn't trust any company that's not willing to free all its patents on the GPL code it distributes.

Even if it doesn't change any of that code and is merely acting as a hosting provider, for example?

Should merely providing downloads of GPL code without changing it at all make me give away the rights to a company's patents? I don't think that's fair, not that I think software patents are fair to begin with, but that's a separate story ;)

Reply Score: 1

TechGeek
Member since:
2006-01-14

Actually, I have recently switched sides on this issue. I think the kernel devs are right. MUch as I hate DRM, its a hardware issue. A software licesnse is not the place to regulate hardware decisions. BEsides which, the main project this is dealing with is the kernel which will always be GPLv2. From a developers view, Tivo did nothing wrong. THey gave back to the community everything they changed in the kernel. They just didnt allow you to hack their hardware. Too bad! DOn't buy their crap! They could have just as easily designed the device to not be upgradeable. Their hardware, their decision. They followed the rules and now we're supposed to be mad at them because they did something we didnt think of?

And about patents. This is why we are suppose to have separate laws for patents and copyrights. Patents are suuposed to be for hardware only. so stop and think about this scenario for a second and think about why companies are fearful of this. If I make widgets (assume I own the patent for this) and put linux on them to make them run, GPLv3 says that I can't sue anyone for patent infringement for using that item. Fine if that is my customers. What happens when its my competitors? What if they reverse engineer widgets and start selling them? Will I be able to sue them? The language isnt clear enough for companies to gamble their patent portfolio on.

That doesnt even count things like knowing exactly what every bit of code does so you know if its going to cause you a problem in 6 months time. We're asking too much of companies with this whole clause. No one knows what every bit of linux code does.

Reply Score: 2

davegetrag Member since:
2006-03-31

And when dell does the same it will be alright with you? When dell decides what runs or doesn't run on your machine you are cool with that?

----------

v2 was and is about software freedoms - v3 will be about software freedoms. No more and no less. v2 required appropriate measure to ensure software freedoms - v3 requires new and appropriate measures to ensure software freedoms.

v3 is not anti-DRM it is pro freedom, DRM is anti-freedom so therefore DRM is anti-v3 not the other way around. ;)

Software freedoms is what got us where we are and what continues the accellerated pace. What good will innovation be when every company pulls a TIVO?

Reply Score: 2

TechGeek Member since:
2006-01-14

You are assuming that every company will pull a Tivo. Are you forgetting that there is a lot of demand for machines that will run linux? Someone will make a machine that is drm free. Sure, maybe dell will go with some DRM that wont allow unsigned code. Course that will mean no more dells for me. Like I said, I hate DRM. But I dont think that the GPL is the right tool to use to fight that argument.

Reply Score: 1

r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

GPLv3 is not designed to stop DRM. GPLv3 is designed to stop DRM infecting GPL-ed code. The FSF doesn't care about proprietary software that treats its users like criminals through DRM.

What the FSF cares about is the co-opting of FL/OSS for PR reasons and then render the result non-free with an electronic padlock. The notion of software freedom can only prevail if software carrying the free denomination manages to retain true freedom (as defined in the four freedoms).

You could also interpret it as not giving freedom destroyers (DRM proponents) an easy and for free ride by being able to use and distribute easily available free code in an anti-social manner.

Reply Score: 1

You are "free" to use GPLv2
by kscguru on Tue 26th Sep 2006 16:52 UTC
kscguru
Member since:
2006-01-21

The FSF has no power to force anyone to switch from GPLv2 to GPLv3 on their own code

True by the strict letter of the law, false in spirit. The FSF highly encourages licenses to specify "either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version" (in fact, they imply this is necessary in their "how to release GPLed software" FAQ). While the FSF has no power to force anyone to switch to the GPLv3, they have spent the past 15 years encouraging everybody to allow the switch. Any code released with that option clause in the license (i.e. almost all GPLed code, except the Linux kernel) is immediately GPLv3-able; if one person contributes a piece of code he wants as GPLv3 but not GPLv2, it forces the whole package to GPLv3.

The FSF is like a neighbor that says, "you are free to park your car anywhere. But if you don't park it in spot #3, you might find yourself parked in, with a windshield covered with fliers asking you to move." That's not freedom, no matter what they call it.

Reply Score: 4

RE: You are "free" to use GPLv2
by dylansmrjones on Tue 26th Sep 2006 20:08 UTC in reply to "You are "free" to use GPLv2"
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

Actually it is freedom. Do as you like, and suffer the consequences. Nobody prevents you from parking the car outside spot #3. It is just highly recommended that you don't park outside it. But feel free to do so... ;)

If you blend GPLV3-only code with GPLv2-or_any_later_version code, then the binary becomes GPLv3 (GPL'ed sources are however still GPLv2). However, you don't have to accept GPLv3-only contributions, and you can remove them, if you don't like GPLv3.

You are perfectly free...

Reply Score: 1

smitty_one_each Member since:
2005-07-07

>It is just highly recommended
The challenge will become the zealots who will 'highly recommend' to the point of becoming irritating slanderers.
Look at the variations on the theme of 'you are unethical!' being thrown currently at those who've not partaken of the FSF kool-aid.[1]
What I find saddening is the intolerance. If some want to use GPLv3: great. I others find themselves queasy at the blurring of the copyright/patent line, and wish to remain at GPLv2, can their opinion be respected?
The idealogues would seem to say no.

[1]I am actually an FSF member

Reply Score: 1

dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

GPL v2 has the same blend in regard to copyrights and patents.

It's obvious if you distribute an application which uses technology you have patented, then your distribution of the software equals a license grant to use said patent.

The only difference between GPL v2 and v3 is the policy on DRM (v2 having no policy on DRM).

Personally I don't see any reason to switch to v3. Why not just do as usual? --> V.2 or at your option any later version.

It's so much easier. Besides that, I hate to have to learn a new license... they are so long.

Reply Score: 1

I used to think GPL3 was dangerous
by codehead78 on Tue 26th Sep 2006 18:57 UTC
codehead78
Member since:
2006-08-04

Now, not so much. The best way forward is to let the GPL3 come to pass and stop trying to fight it. If really is a better license it will be used. If it turns out to be too cumbersome, the people who actually create Free Software will find a way around it, just like with X.Org.

I believe now that RMS has started a movement that, at this point, even he can't screw up.

Reply Score: 2

DRM and GPLv3
by dylansmrjones on Tue 26th Sep 2006 20:11 UTC
dylansmrjones
Member since:
2005-10-02

It is perfectly possible to use DRM with GPLv3 - as long as the DRM do not restrict the rights to use the application according to the 4 freedoms.

Reply Score: 1

Why all this sh*t about the GPLv3?
by werfu on Tue 26th Sep 2006 22:02 UTC
werfu
Member since:
2005-09-15

The GPLv3 doesn't impose any upgrade from the current GPLv2, so why all this hassle about the GPLv3? If Linux kernel developper don't like the current GPLv2 and had whished some change, why don't they just fork it? They could simply call it the Linux Kernel License.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: You are "free" to use GPLv2
by quique on Wed 27th Sep 2006 11:28 UTC
quique
Member since:
2005-07-07

if one person contributes a piece of code he wants as GPLv3 but not GPLv2, it forces the whole package to GPLv3.

No, as the project admins can reject his contribution.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: You are "free" to use GPLv2
by m_abs on Wed 27th Sep 2006 13:22 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: You are "free" to use GPLv2"
m_abs Member since:
2005-07-06

So much for the freedom to use free software.

Reply Score: 1

Laws and License
by Lousewort on Wed 27th Sep 2006 13:51 UTC
Lousewort
Member since:
2006-09-12

Take the law of gravity; it say's you can't fly without wings. I might issue you a license authorising you to fly as long as you don't try to use wings. The law supercedes the license, because no matter how much I say you can, you still can't.

The GPL is a license, and therefore a contract. Contractually, one might be able to use DRM as long as you don't contradict 'freedoms' 1 through 4. However, it would seem impossible to use DRM in practice without doing so. Therefore, the license contradicts the law (DMCA).

The authority of the GPL is based on a law, notably the globally ubiquitous copyright law. Where the GPL tries to extend it's authority beyond it's base, it is destined for failure.

It does not help for the GPL to try to address patents, because it is attempting to pit copyright law against patent law. We know that no contract may rob a person of his rights under the law.

Therefore, when a license (or contract) says "you may not" where a law says "you may", or a license says "you may" and a law says "you may not", the law always wins.

No matter how much you want to fly without wings, you can't.

Reply Score: 2