[linux-elitists] The GPLV3 Position... (and a suggestion to Jon Corbet)

Greg KH greg@kroah.com
Mon Sep 25 20:51:37 PDT 2006

On Tue, Sep 26, 2006 at 12:38:22PM +1000, Ben Finney wrote:
> On 22-Sep-2006, Greg Folkert wrote:
> > Personally, I thought you 15 (well those of you on this list that
> > are some of the signatories) did a fine job of establishing in clear
> > terms why you feel this way.
> The FSF have released a position statement clarifying some of the
> points being discussed.
> =====
> GPLv3: recent misleading information
> The Free Software Foundation wishes to clarify a few factual points
> about the Second Discussion Draft of GNU GPL version 3, on which
> recent discussion has presented inaccurate information.
> 1.  The FSF has no power to force anyone to switch from GPLv2 to GPLv3
>     on their own code.  We intentionally wrote GPLv2 (and GPLv1) so we
>     would not have this power.  Software developers will continue to
>     have the right to use GPLv2 for their code after GPLv3 is
>     published, and we will respect their decisions.

Isn't that nice, unfortuntatly they don't point out the fact that all
the FSF owned code will be switching to GPLv3, which was one of our main
points.  gcc, binutils, glibc and others will be changed causing a huge
problem for all Linux distros and users.

So their point is just that "since you aren't going to change the
kernel, why say anything at all"?

> 2.  In order to honor freedom 0, your freedom to run the program as
>     you wish, a free software license may not contain "use
>     restrictions" that would restrict what you can do with it.
>     Contrary to what some have said, the GPLv3 draft has no use
>     restrictions, and the final version won't either.

Ok, but then the contradict themselves:

>     GPLv3 will prohibit certain distribution practices which restrict
>     users' freedom to modify the code.  We hope this policy will
>     thwart the ways some companies wish to "use" free software --
>     namely, distributing it to you while controlling what you can do
>     with it.  This policy is not a "use restriction": it doesn't
>     restrict how they, or you, can run the program; it doesn't
>     restrict what they, or you, can make the program do.  Rather it
>     ensures you, as a user, are as free as they are.

The GPL is not about the user, it's about the developer.  If you use my
code and modify it, you are forced to give me those changes back.  v3 is
forcing the FSF's intrepretation of DRM to try to prevent the creation
of devices that do not allow anyone to run modified versions of the code
on it.  Like a Tivo.  Unfortunately many of the Linux kernel developers
do not share this same view and think that using ways to keep modified
kernels from running on some hardware is a necessary thing.  Like in
medical equipment, laser controlled systems, cell phones, set top boxes
and the like.  The FSF is restricting the use of GPLv3 software on these
systems that have good reasons for not allowing modified code to be run
on them (health, regulatory, closed networks, etc.)  So to say they are
not restricting use is not true.

Note again, that even though all of the 30 kernel developers polled by
Linus object to the v3 as is, not all of them agree with the above
statement about keying hardware (and is one reason only 10 of us signed
the position paper.)  So while it is not a universal agreement, it is
not the only reason we objected to the v3 license.

> 3.  Where GPLv2 relies on an implicit patent license, which depends on
>     US law, GPLv3 contains an explicit patent license that does the
>     same job internationally.
>     Contrary to what some have said, GPLv3 will not cause a company to
>     "lose its entire [software] patent portfolio".  It simply says
>     that if someone has a patent covering XYZ, and distributes a
>     GPL-covered program to do XYZ, he can't sue the program's
>     subsequent users, redistributors and improvers for doing XYZ with
>     their own versions of that program.  This has no effect on other
>     patents which that program does not implement.

Then the currently worded v3 draft needs to be changed to state this.
As it is, the lawyers I have talked to state that there are big problems
with the current wording.

Oh well, looks like nothing is going to change here, how sad...

greg k-h

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