[discuss] Reuters: Novell could be banned from selling Linux:
russell at flora.ca
Mon Feb 12 18:07:54 EST 2007
Andrew Kohlsmith wrote:
> I consider myself part of the Free Software movement, and I disagree with the
Before I answer, I want to make a clarification of my own words. I
should say intent of the Copyleft nature of the GPL, rather than the
intent of the Free Software movement. The movement has both the carrot
and stick approach to encouraging new software.
I noticed my oops after I had sent it, but figured I'd draw out even
more discussion with my error than what I had intended to say.
> My disagreements with the GPLv3 follow very closely with the kernel
> developer's stance: namely that the GPLv3 doesn't set out to solve any clear
> problem with GPLv2,
I personally consider this to be part of the first possibility, which
is a difference of opinion over the interpretation of the law.
The 3 clear problems with the GPLv2 that it solves are:
a) Internationalization -- this is a real problem that we have been
'lucky' with in many countries that courts have been willing to
interpret the license with a "US law" lens outside of the USA. It's
enforceability outside of the USA has always been questionable.
b) Software patents -- saying that you can't distribute the software
at all being the ONLY response to a software patent is not adequate
(Liberty or Death -- Why not Liberty or Fight...). As patent litigation
increases, the viability of GPLv2 software will decrease -- assuming any
of it will be able to be used at all in a few years.
c) TPMs used to lock down hardware such that their owners can't
modify the supplied copyleft software. The "TiVO" question seems to be
like the Copyleft-vs-non-Copyleft debate itself. With non-copyleft
software it is *THIS* version that is FLOSS, while derivatives might not
be. With TiVO'd hardware/software bundles the software might have "The
freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0)", just not on
the supplied piece of hardware (IE: some mythical "other hardware" which
might not ever exist).
I guess I fundamentally disagree with you (and the Linux kernel
developers who also disagree) that the GPLv3 wasn't designed to solve
some very clear issues that have radically changed over the past 15+
years. The GPL1991 was great for its day, but its meaning changed over
the years as the underlying law changed. In order to make the GPL mean
the same thing it did in 1991 it needs to be modernized to deal with the
changes in the law and political climate since that time.
> protecting it. The classic "we had to destroy the village in order to save
> it" kind of mentality.
This is a critique about CopyLeft licenses themself, or the GPLv3 in
particular? Linus himself does not appear to be a supporter of
CopyLeft, and it is likely if this was 1992 again he would have chosen a
BSD-like license for the Linux kernel.
> own existence better, and the GPL recognizes that fact. The GPLv3, however,
> seems to take it too far; it seems more about rabid fanaticism than software
> freedom, as my understanding of it goes.
The phrase "as my understanding of it goes" suggests you are relying
on someone elses interpretation. Have you read the license yourself,
read the documentation, and read caselaw worldwide to see what types of
problems it is trying to deal with?
BTW: Each thing I have read from Linus Torvalds suggests he has never
read the current license, nor even understood "which keys" are being
discussed in the "4 freedoms on the supplied hardware" clauses (AKA: the
anti-DRM, or anti-TiVO clauses). At the end of the day it never
mattered to him for "his baby" given his own choices 15 years ago meant
that the Linux kernel can never move to the newer license anyway.
> Essentially GPLv2 works, it works
> damned well, but now that it's done it's not enough and now we must somehow
> push our ideals further... and from that perceived need we the more
> restrictive GPLv3.
This is the fundamental point of disagreement: whether the GPLv2 has
been working as intended, or whether changes in the law and political
climate has meant that it no longer works the same as it did in 1991.
> code, stronger code and superior software in general? There's a world of
> difference between willing to use the license in a court of law in order to
> ensure that those who don't agree don't walk all over it, and writing a
> license that is so "strong" that it divides the community and is used in so
> few places that it doesn't ever get serious use.
I don't agree that this is what has happened. People who aren't
aware of or don't mind the changes that have happened in the law and
politics since 1991 are claiming that the modern license is "so strong"
when in fact it is just bringing a 1991 license up in the mid 2000's to
the same level of strength that it had back in 1991.
GPLv3 in 2007 is no more radical than GPLv2 was in 1991.
> Who knows; maybe I *am* against the Free Software movement and don't know
> it. :-)
Sorry for my badly chosen words. It is the Copyleft nature of the
GPL that I should have specified, not suggestions that people are
against the Free Software movement. There are many people that are not
interested in Copyleft (the stick), with folks like the Apache core
developers very deliberately created a non-Copyleft license.
Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
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