Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Jun 2007 22:17 UTC, submitted by prymitive
GNU, GPL, Open Source A lengthy debate that began with a suggestion to dual license the Linux kernel under the GPLv2 and the GPLv3 continues on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. Throughout the ongoing thread Linux creator Linus Torvalds has spoken out on the GPLv2, the upcoming GPLv3, the BSD license, Tivo, the Free Software Foundation, and much more. During the discussion, he was asked we he chose the GPLv2 over the BSD license when he's obviously not a big fan of the FSF.
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RE[3]: Wow
by zztaz on Sat 16th Jun 2007 05:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Wow"
zztaz
Member since:
2006-09-16

TiVo has agreed to, and obeys, the terms of the GPL for all of the software they distribute using that license. It is not right to apply those terms to the other software, under different licenses, which they also distribute in the same box. Copyright law distinguishes aggregation from derived works.

TiVo distributes the Linux kernel under the GPL. Because the GPL applies to the kernel, they also license the drivers that they wrote under the GPL. The drivers are linked, making them derived works of the kernel.

Other software is included in the box. That software is not licensed under the GPL. I would like it to be, but there is no legal obligation for TiVo to license separate programs under the GPL because they happen to run under Linux. Those programs are merely aggregated with the kernel, which does not make them derived works.

It would be counter-productive to require all software on a computer running Linux to use the GPL. No current Linux distribution would qualify. My Debian systems may run only freely-licensed software, but the GPL is not the only free license. Such a requirement would also fail in court. Copyright law understands derivation, not contagion.

The ends do not justify the means. Coercion is bad when Sony does it, and when the FSF does it. Version 2 of the GPL does not coerce, because it applies only to the software that the license is attached to. Accept or decline the license, and it only affects the program itself, not system it runs on. Sony's copyright on some music does not give them the right to dictate the operation of the device I play the music on. The FSF's copyright on gcc does not give them the right dictate how I manage keys on my hardware. The copyright on the music applies ONLY to the music, and not the player. The copyright on a program applies ONLY to the program, and not the hardware it runs on.

I agree with the goals of the FSF, but think that they've made a tactical blunder with the DRM portion of GPLv3. The other changes are worthwhile improvements.

Using a license to promote the freedom of the licensed object is great. Using a license to promote freedom of other things which come in contact with the licensed object steps over the line. Version 2 of the GPL stays firmly on the right side of the line, and recognizes that while world peace and ending hunger are worthwhile goals, restricting the USE of software in fact reduces freedom. It covers only distribution, not use. There are better ways to end hunger, and better ways to promote open hardware.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[4]: Wow
by lemur2 on Sat 16th Jun 2007 06:31 in reply to "RE[3]: Wow"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Other software is included in the box. That software is not licensed under the GPL. I would like it to be, but there is no legal obligation for TiVo to license separate programs under the GPL because they happen to run under Linux. Those programs are merely aggregated with the kernel, which does not make them derived works.

It would be counter-productive to require all software on a computer running Linux to use the GPL. No current Linux distribution would qualify. My Debian systems may run only freely-licensed software, but the GPL is not the only free license. Such a requirement would also fail in court. Copyright law understands derivation, not contagion.


You have got the wrong end of the stick here, entirely.

The point of "anti-tivoisation" clauses in GPL3 has nothing to do with non-GPL software on the TiVo. There is no requirement at all to make "all software on a computer running Linux to use the GPL".

The "anti-tivoisation" clauses in GPL3 simply mean that it is not permissible for a vendor such as TiVo to distribute any software which IS GPLv3 software in such a way that the end user may not change it.

The ability of the end user to alter the GPLv3 software is one of the four freedoms. If TiVo want to use some GPLv3 software elements as part of their product, then they are distributing those GPLv3 software elements, and so then TiVo have no right under the GPLv3 license to remove that freedom of the end user (aka as the downstream recipient) which is granted by the license.

Remember, the GPL software in the TiVo is not TiVo's software, it is GPL software. We are talking here only about the bits of software in the TiVo which are GPL software, and we are not talking about any of TiVo's own software.

Please bear in mind that the GPLv3 license applies only to software which is distributed (by the original author) as GPLv3 software. The GPLv3 license is intended to preserve the freedoms of the license for all recipients of that software. The GPLv3 license does not apply to any other software bundled together in a product, it applies only to the GPLv3 software.

I agree with the goals of the FSF, but think that they've made a tactical blunder with the DRM portion of GPLv3.


Why, exactly? What exactly is wrong with the DRM portion of GPLv3?

The DRM portion of GPLv3 says only that one may not apply DRM provisions to software that is GPLv3 software, so that the end user loses rights to the GPLv3 software.

GPLv3 software does not prevent DRM per se, and GPLv3 is entirely silent on what anyone does with software that is not GPLv3 software.

Edited 2007-06-16 06:49

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[5]: Wow
by zztaz on Sat 16th Jun 2007 13:32 in reply to "RE[4]: Wow"
zztaz Member since:
2006-09-16

The user of GPLv2 software DOES have the right to change the software and redistribute it. The software can evolve and improve. DRM does not remove that right. What DRM does is make the *hardware* less useful, not make the *software* less useful. The software can be run on other hardware, or the hardware can be modified. But that's a hardware issue, not a software issue.

Linus, as the author of the software, is concerned with the effect of the license on the evolution of the software. The design of the hardware rightly belongs to those who design the hardware, and their decisions can be approved of or denigrated by choosing to purchase or not. The hardware will evolve on its own merits; crippled hardware will be recognized as such.

We all benefit when hardware and software are unbundled and as independent as practical. My object to TiVo is that they've crippled the hardware by imposing limits on which software will run on it. Crippled the hardware, not crippled the software. I don't like that tactic any better when the FSF does it, tying the hardware and software instead of keeping them independent. TiVo limits which software I can run on that hardware, the FSF limits which software can be distributed with that hardware. Both impose artificial limits on which software can be used with that hardware, and the limits suck.

The FSF is making a tactical blunder because they've shifted the focus away from the fact that it is the hardware that's crippled. Now the software is crippled. Instead of blaming the hardware for limiting the software you can run, now it is the license of the *software* that imposes the limits. Bad move.

I understand that the FSF wants to encourage open hardware. But a worthy goal does not excuse an unworthy means. Software licenses should concern the software and only the software. Hardware issues can and should be dealt with separately. The trouble starts when copyright reaches beyond the copyrighted material.

I have no problem with the MPAA using copyright to prevent unauthorized distribution of movies. The trouble begins when they use copyright to make ads unskippable and prevent me from viewing movies purchased in other countries. Copyright has been extended beyond the copyrighted item and into the behavior of other items - the player, in this case.

I have no problem with the RIAA using copyright to prevent unauthorized distribution of music. The trouble begins when they reach beyond the copyrighted music and try to control what I can play it on.

I have no problem with copyright holders of software choosing to prevent or allow me to distribute copies. The trouble starts when they reach beyond the copyrighted software and try to control how I may use it and which hardware I may use it with. I don't think that it's right for Microsoft to say that Windows is tied to specific hardware and may not be moved to any other computer. I don't think that it's right for the FSF to say that software may not be distributed with certain hardware. Don't tie hardware and software. That's bad, no matter who does it.

Edited 2007-06-16 13:34

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[4]: Wow
by lemur2 on Sat 16th Jun 2007 07:50 in reply to "RE[3]: Wow"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

The ends do not justify the means. Coercion is bad when Sony does it, and when the FSF does it. Version 2 of the GPL does not coerce, because it applies only to the software that the license is attached to. Accept or decline the license, and it only affects the program itself, not system it runs on.


Where does the GPLv3 ever mention anything that is NOT GPLv3 software? There is no coercion involved. If you want to use GPLv3 software, you may not use (harware or software) DRM to apply to that bit of software. That is it, period. There is no coercion involved, if you want to apply DRM to a complete system, then go ahead ... just don't use any GPLv3 software as part of that system. If you want to apply DRM to music on a system that in part uses GPL software, then go ahead, just don't apply the DRM to the GPL software itself.

Sony's copyright on some music does not give them the right to dictate the operation of the device I play the music on. The FSF's copyright on gcc does not give them the right dictate how I manage keys on my hardware.


Of course not. The FSF does have the right, however, to say that you cannot distribute FSF's software with DRM applied so that downstream recipient's cannot change the FSF's software.

I would point out to you that TiVo's right to make hardware and DRM systems does not extend to TiVo applying that DRM to FSF's software.

The copyright on the music applies ONLY to the music, and not the player. The copyright on a program applies ONLY to the program, and not the hardware it runs on.


Correct. The copyright to FSF's software belongs to the FSF. Hence the FSF then get to say what the terms are for distribution of FSF's software. Their terms are that you may not apply DRM to their software, so that downstream receipient's of the FSF's software cannot further change it. The FSF say nothing at all about anything belonging to anyone esle.

Using a license to promote the freedom of the licensed object is great. Using a license to promote freedom of other things which come in contact with the licensed object steps over the line. Version 2 of the GPL stays firmly on the right side of the line, and recognizes that while world peace and ending hunger are worthwhile goals, restricting the USE of software in fact reduces freedom. It covers only distribution, not use. There are better ways to end hunger, and better ways to promote open hardware.


Please point out where there is any coercion at all in the GPLv3 license. There is no such coercion. No-one is forced to do anything. The GPLv3 license gives recipients of GPLv3 software permissions to use the software covered by the license in certain ways (if they want to), and it sets out certain restrictions on that use. One of the restrictions is that you may not distribute the software you receive under the GPLv3 to downstream users in such a way the the downstream user has more restrictions than you have.

Edited 2007-06-16 07:54

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[4]: Wow
by marafaka on Mon 18th Jun 2007 10:40 in reply to "RE[3]: Wow"
marafaka Member since:
2006-01-03

There would be no hunger if only the goods were DISTRIBUTED properly! There would be no need for the FSF if there were no parties who intentionally create scarcity.

Reply Parent Score: 2