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

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[6]: Wow
by b3timmons on Sat 16th Jun 2007 16:37 in reply to "RE[5]: Wow"
b3timmons Member since:

You oppose Tivoization but apparently not enough to believe that people who want to ensure that their software not contribute to Tivoization deserve a license that respects their wish and protects their software.

Your examples suggest an opposition to the kind of abuse of copyright that the DMCA encourages. Yet you are not so opposed so as to believe there is room for a license for people who want no part in that abuse.

Everyone knows that the GPLv3 is intended to promote four freedoms--these freedoms are the priority. Any argument for a conflicting concern must show why this concern is worth harming software freedom. Your arguments have not addressed this at all.

It seems that you are asserting that consumer choice matters more than software freedom, and so you believe that the GPLv3 is mistaken by not following your priority and going against the very reasons for its existence.

You claim that it is wrong for using copyright of an item in one domain to constrain another domain that interacts with the item. How is it unethical? In particular, you claim that it is unethical to tie hardware and software. What's your argument?

You hold that we benefit from independent hardware and software. In theory, I might agree. However, in practice, things such as economic constraints and user experience sometimes make "integration" more attractive, such as the supposedly fewer glitches of Macs versus PCs. Apple benefits greatly from this impression. (Such integration does not in principle imply that the software needs to be non-free.)

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.

The GPLv3 applies only upon distribution; you can use the software however you want and with whatever hardware you want, but if you distribute it, you will have to agree to its terms. However, according to what you say, you have no problem with terms of distribution.

Edited 2007-06-16 16:52

Reply Parent Score: 3