Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Feb 2006 21:15 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source Linus Torvalds, father of the Linux kernel, has fleshed out his unhappiness with GPLv3 in three recent posts on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. Torvalds previously stated that the kernel will remain under the licensing terms of GPLv2. Yesterday, Torvalds offered his opinion as to where the battle over DRM should take place.
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Member since:

I think I understand what Linus Torvalds is getting at here- that DRM is a product of the industry producing the content, and the hardware locking is a hardware issue...

Perhaps what really needs to happen is some differentiation between DRM as a security feature, and DRM as a usage inhibitor.

I mean, the way it's presented I have no real problem with signing keys to make sure my latest .deb files really contain what they say they do, but I do have a problem with content-lockdown type DRM to prevent me from using stuff I've bought and paid for.

Perhaps if this distinction (provided a real distinction could be made) were in the GPL, Linus would have less problems with it.

Then again, I'm not sure which side of my argument "locking down a PC so its BIOS/EFI won't load a non-trusted OS (Linux, say)" falls on. ;)

Edited 2006-02-02 21:42

Reply Score: 5

betson Member since:

Interesting comments.

Suppose I'm a small, independent game developer. I write commercial software (games) that links with GPL components to accelerate product development. Abiding by the GPL, I ship the source code of my games with the binaries so people have the freedom to modify/tweak it as they want.

However, I use DRM measures to protect the original multmedia content--images, videos, sounds, etc--that ship with the game binaries. The source they can have--its their right by the GPL to have--but the content they'll have to rebuild on their own.

Why should the GPL, to promote software freedom, be sticking its fingers into my multimedia content?

Reply Parent Score: 5

teprrr Member since:

Umh, if you link against GPL stuff, you have to adhere the GPL and thus release your source as GPL too.

EDIT: oh, sorry, you said that already... Maybe I should get some sleep now.. Good night!

Edited 2006-02-02 22:02

Reply Parent Score: 3

DigitalAxis Member since:

Uh, that sounds like a case of the GPL being viral. The Right Thing to Do would probably be to release the entire game under a license other than the GPL (except, you can't...)

This seems like yet another case of the GPL being viral; I was under the impression that GPLv3 was going to take some of the viral restrictions out, but I think that was done to lessen incompatibilities with other OSS licenses.

My objections to media DRM are basically about things like the Sony Rootkit, where we have a fair expectation of being allowed to listen to music purchased legally... Maybe 'modifying the game media' wouldn't fall under fair use?

Anyway, it sounds like Linus would agree with you; media content is not software, Linus doesn't like software licenses that apply to more than software.

Reply Parent Score: 3

CrLf Member since:

"However, I use DRM measures to protect the original multmedia content--images, videos, sounds, etc--that ship with the game binaries. The source they can have--its their right by the GPL to have--but the content they'll have to rebuild on their own."

You make a very good point indeed...

The GPL has nothing to do with your data files, and it really shouldn't tell you what you may or may not do with them.

Lets generalize what you said, lets say someone wants to build a GPLed game engine which includes the means to DRM-protect the data files...

The software is clearly free, and anyone is free to use it to run their own game content. But they can also use it to produce games that don't use any DRM measures, and whose content is also free.

As for the GPLv3 it seems to void the license, which is good from the FSF's ideological point of view, but doesn't seem fair to me.

Reply Parent Score: 2

MattK Member since:

Well. . Not to nitpick, but most libraries you would link to would be under the LGPL. This changes things a bit and means you do not have to release your stuff that links to the LGPL. This way you can use LGPL libraries in non-free programs. Your content would then be safe. Any changes you make to the libraries themselves would have to be distributed however.

Reply Parent Score: 4

mabhatter Member since:

And YOU are exactly within the DRM restrictions provided you do several things.

1. the source you provide has to be useable... you can't just omit the parts that might let somebody hack your drm.
2. the new GPL does not require you to release YOUR key to your data on the media.. that is your's to do with what you wish.. but if you provide DRM, it has to be useable with SOME key so other people can use it too... It's really not an issue that people make it out to be. After all, things like SSL run all the time with only 2 parties knowing the keys.. that's the point. A GPL'd DRM could be relitively secure.. we use other GPL encryption everyday. With all the eyeballs trying to crack it, it makes your use of it stronger too!

That's the one point where Linus is more pragmatic than RMS. Any system with good security SHOULD support DRM... after all, all DRM essentially is about, is the computer keeping processes seperate.. granted, it can be used for extra restrictions we don't like, but fundamentally, it's what keeps hackers out of your bank account too!

I think the new GPL needs much more careful wording so that it gets the point accross better. Actually, this GPL3 actually clarifies some "grey" areas that cause commercial users problems. They may not be clarifications the developers want, but it is more clear that V2.

Reply Parent Score: 1

makc Member since:

you're a small independant game developer.
you are releasing your source as GPL.
don't mind about DRM, you're bankrupt (:

seriously, levels/objects/textures aren't the greatest part of the investment and are what you'd let most happily have the people tweak with.
often model/level editors are provided for that precise purpose; while your engine is often licenced or you plan to relicence it.

so maybe not the best example, but I see the real point here is mixing GPL and DRM content. so: indeed, GPL shouldn't stick its fingers in that but GPL is the expression of a political statement, not a "gift in form of code". That's called MIT/BSD/public domain.

And now vote me down, I'm ready (:

Reply Parent Score: 1

MORB Member since:

However, I use DRM measures to protect the original multmedia content--images, videos, sounds, etc--that ship with the game binaries.

I'm not familiar with DRM techniques, but how could that even work if the code is open source ?
I mean, your game at some point will need to read and decrypt your data.
Imagine that I want to steal your content. If I recompile the code to make it save the decrypted data, I can crack open your DRM.
Or maybe you meant that the key to decrypt your data would not be part of the source code ?
But in that case, I could just pull the key out of the binaries. It would be especially easy to figure out how with the source code.

Edited 2006-02-03 09:39

Reply Parent Score: 1

quique Member since:

The law is already protecting your multimedia content.

You don't need to put nasty DRM on top of it.

Reply Parent Score: 1

floccipaucci Member since:

No No No. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the GPLv3 here

3. Digital Restrictions Management.

As a free software license, this License intrinsically disfavors technical attempts to restrict users' freedom to copy, modify, and share copyrighted works. Each of its provisions shall be interpreted in light of this specific declaration of the licensor's intent. Regardless of any other provision of this License, no permission is given to distribute covered works that illegally invade users' privacy, nor for modes of distribution that deny users that run covered works the full exercise of the legal rights granted by this License.

No covered work constitutes part of an effective technological protection measure: that is to say, distribution of a covered work as part of a system to generate or access certain data constitutes general permission at least for development, distribution and use, under this License, of other software capable of accessing the same data.

The GPL is simply seeking to preserve the users best interest. If your business model depends on violating that then the GPL is not for you, neither V2 nor V3

Edited 2006-02-03 13:46

Reply Parent Score: 1