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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for geeks these guys can't read!
by mabhatter on Fri 3rd Feb 2006 03:35 UTC
Member since:

first of all there are several things to consider with how the GPL works. The GPL is a license to COPY and MODIFY works, never ever to use them! It's an attept to fix software and make it "just like a book". After all, you don't have to have permission to read a book of poetry, assemble something from instructios, or cook the recipes in a cookbook... that would be stupid.. but that's how software copyright is interpreted. Remember, GPL is ALWAYS about the source.. in their world "binary" doesn't exist anymore that claiming copyright on a cake you baked from a receipe!

Here's what backs this up: From the Draft
"9.[5] Not a Contract.

You are not required to accept this License in order to receive a copy of the Program. However, nothing else grants you permission to propagate or modify the Program or any covered works. These actions infringe copyright if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or propagating the Program (or any covered work), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and conditions. "

Here's the part we're all arguing about:
"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. "

This not trying to force developers to open up protected content, rather, they MUST open up the source...and the source they give must be USEABLE. if it requires a key to look at the source, you must include it... if you use keys to protect your data, the progam must be able to generate the same keys for other people to use too.. of course that implies that people could stumble upon your key or discover it thru analytical means.

You have to frame the argument in terms of the DMCA which makes using the "shift" key or a marker "techincally" an illegal device. Imagine the field day they would have had in the VHS erra when they used the "write protect" knock-outs we all put scotch tape over! RMS didn't make such a stupid law, but the GPL has to address it, otherwise, some moron would add encryption to say, the AbiWord file format... then sue the developers [of abiword] for Cracking "protected" files because they wanted to read them. Right now that is illegal!! There's no clause in the DMCA for the fact YOU wrote the program!!! Look at the Sony rootkit case, if DVD John cracked it [even though they stole his source] they'd still find a procecutor to arrest him. The case could be made [heck alredy HAS BEEN made] even with GPLv2... this HAS to be in there or the whole OSS movement will fall down! Look how TiVo has made careful use of "broken source" and carefully written DRM binaries to stay keep their stuff just under DMCA... this clause is meant to protect users that see the source and can crack the remaining parts quite easily from being sued.. you could even point the C&D letters right to this clause!

Reply Score: 3

DigitalAxis Member since:

Interesting. I obviously have a shaky grasp of legal matters, but neither "covered works that illegally invade users' privacy" nor "modes of distribution that deny users that run covered works the full excersise of legal rights granted by this License" sound like they're not focused on outlawing security-based software DRM, just computer-crippling content protection DRM.

As for Linus's comment on the issue: "For example, distributions signing the kernel modules (that are distributed under the GPL) that _they_ have compiled, and having their kernels either refuse to load them entirely (under a "secure policy") or marking the resulting kernel as "Tainted" (under a "less secure" policy) is a GOOD THING... the current GPLv3 draft pretty clearly says that Red Hat would have to distribute their private keys so that anybody sign their own versions of the modules they recompile, in order to re-create their own versions of the signed binaries that Red Hat creates. That's INSANE.

I suppose the crux of the matter is; would Red Hat's mechanism of not loading, or loading unsigned modules under stricter security policies constitute 'denying users full exercise of legal rights granted by this license'?
If it isn't, Red Hat shouldn't need to allow everyone to use their keys to sign their software.
If it is, we have a problem. As the GPLv3 explains it, it sounds like Red Hat would need to provide some kind of backdoor mechanism for admins who really, really want to load the modules that Red Hat doesn't want to load at all.

(I dunno; a system for which there is no work-around had better really be fool-proof, otherwise SOMEONE's going to find a legitimate way to get screwed over.)

I suppose since there's still comment time left on the GPLv3, someone could try to work out this distinction.

Reply Parent Score: 1