[CS-FSLUG] Weighing In On The GPLv3 Debate

John Mark Clayton clayton256 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 3 20:58:21 CST 2006

Thanks Don, for the explanation.  I'm beginning to understand.  I thought of
tivo as a "good
guy" being one of the first popular consumer products to use the linux
kernel.  I was not
aware of the digital key thing.  Is it a new thing?
The subtleties of the DRM part still eludes me.  No, I'm not happy about
having my music
crippled so I have to listen to it on a Windows box or an ipod.  And I
wouldn't be happy if my
code was used in a project that promotes or facilitates DRM.  But people and
have the right(?) to release "closed" music/movies/software.
I'm guessing that the likes of ThreadX, OSE, WindRiver and LynxWorks are
very excited about
these new GPL clauses!  What a great way to scare off the corporate world.
Either that or
they'll go underground buy not admitting they're using GPL code.  Which I
suspect some are
doing now anyhow.
For now, I think I will stick with v2.  But sometime down the road, I can
see getting a big
headache accepting returned units only to find out some nube tried to flash
in a modified
version they tried to compile themselves...
Thanks again,

On 11/3/06, Don Parris <parrisdc at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 11/3/06, John Mark Clayton <clayton256 at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > I've read a few articles on this issue.  I don't understand what the
> > argument
> > is about.  What is proposed to be in v3 that is causing the up roar?
> > What does
> > anti-drm and anti-tivo really mean?  How will I. a consumer, be short
> > changed?
> > How as a OSS developer (desktop app and/or embedded app) will I be hurt?
> > Mark
> I spent two articles busting everyone's chops on the issue of personal
> attacks, with the possible exception of Stallman, who never attacked anyone
> as "strange, weird", or for "trying to tell him what to do with the license
> he wrote".  At any rate, many of the comments are about Stallman, not about
> the technical merits of the license.  That's just one reason why many people
> find the whole debate confusing.  It's why I wrote my articles.  I want
> people to focus on the merits of the license - not whether Stallman is
> trying to tell you what to do with your code.  That's just a side show.
> Well, as you may know, Tivo is a digital video recorder that allows you to
> record t.v. shows to watch at a later time.  The problem with Tivo is
> that, although they use software released under the GPL, they effectively
> prevent you from being able to recompile the software by inserting a digital
> signature key that must be verified with their service to run.  They seem to
> have done this in order to fend off Big Media.  Still, it violates (even
> according to Torvalds) the viewpoint that the hardware owner has the right
> to control their hardware, which is exactly why Stallman set out to develop
> Free Software and wrote the GPL to combat non-free software.  In short, Tivo
> adheres to the letter of the GPL, making the sources available, etc. They
> violate the spirit of the GPL by preventing you from running your
> re-compiled binaries.  You can find out the history behind Stallman's
> encounter with Xerox at MIT Labs via the GNU or FSF websites.
> Now, the GPLv3 contains a provision aimed at blocking that from happening,
> as well as a patent retaliation clause.  The anti-DRM clause has provoked
> the most debate.  The harm done by Tivo is that the user is effectively
> deprived of the ability to control the hardware they own.  The potential
> harm done by the anti-DRM clause is that it prevents the use of GPL'ed code
> in projects like Tivo, since its aim is to counter Tivo-like projects to
> begin with.  There is the potential, too, for some level of incompatibility
> between v2 & v3, though I'm not 100% certain about that.  Whether you see
> the refusal to allow GPL'ed code in a Tivo-like project probably depends on
> your perspective.  Are you a Free Software advocate or just a regular
> computer user, coming from the Windows world, with no understanding of Free
> Software's four freedoms, or a developer?
> There are a few points to consider:
> <> Developers who choose the GPL will need to figure out whether to use
> the GPLv2 or GPLv3, based on whether they want to allow their code to be
> used in projects like Tivo.  Indeed, Tivo can keep right on trucking, using
> GPLv2 software.
> <> Developers can, in fact, choose any number of licenses over the GPLv3,
> which means that the GPLv3 may not see the widespread adoption that it has
> in the last 15-20 years.  Otoh, with more and more people taking an interest
> in software freedom, GPLv3 usage may not drop as badly as some have
> predicted.
> <> It could be difficult for some projects to migrate to GPLv3, since some
> developers may not agree to the migration, based on the anti-DRM or other
> clauses they may not like.
> I may very well have presented the wrong argument for holding off on the
> anti-DRM clause, since keeping that clause intact is not about being
> effective in the grand scheme of things, or even having a popular license,
> but about preventing Tivo-ization and other DRM measures.  From my
> perspective, the issue is not about whether people like or dislike the
> politics - the GPL has always been a political/philosophical instrument.
> The issue is whether it can be an effective tool to fight DRM.  I'm not so
> sure, but people definitely won't use that code in their DRM-enabled
> projects, if it's kept intact, so it might be effective, if only for the
> code it covers.
> If I've confused you further, let me know.  I'll do my best to help you
> get the clarification you need.
> Don
> _______________________________________________
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clayton256 at gmail.com
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