Friday, January 27, 2006

No GPL3 Here

On January 19th, 2006, the FSF released a first draft of the GPL, version 3. By now everyone's had a chance to look at it, including a slew of lawyers.

My concern is about the DRM provisions in the license. According to the GPL, (Section 3):
As a free software license, this License intrinsically disfavors technical attempts to restrict users' freedom to copy, modify, and share copyrighted works.
The problem I have with this is that the license attempts to go beyond what you can do with this copyrighted work (i.e., the Program) and other copyrighted works (i.e. content manipulated or processed by the Program). Frankly, it's none of my business what you do with content... the content isn't mine to control. If you want to restrict access to it, more power to you, just so long as you don't violate the freedoms associated with the Program itself. I see Section 3 as being similar to a shovel-maker telling you where, when, and whether you can dig a hole. It's silly and inappropriate.

The second bone of contention is this excerpt from Section 1:
Complete Corresponding Source Code also includes any encryption or authorization codes necessary to install and/or execute the source code of the work, perhaps modified by you, in the recommended or principal context of use, such that its functioning in all circumstances is identical to that of the work, except as altered by your modifications. It also includes any decryption codes necessary to access or unseal the work's output [my italics -- Dave]. Notwithstanding this, a code need not be included in cases where use of the work normally implies the user already has it.
In order to comply with this clause (functioning is identical to that of the work), it may be necessary to include digital signing keys that are used to authenticate the compiled source code. Also note the phrase I italicized... this poorly-considered phrase could be interpreted to mean that users who redistribute encryption software like GNU Privacy Guard would have to provide their private keys to "unseal the work's output", effectively rendering all encryption useless, even if encryption's the primary purpose of the program! It's simply a stupid provision, and no competent lawyer would let it stand.

Wednesday, Linus Torvalds weighed in, saying the GPL3 would not be applied to the Linux kernel:
I think it's insane to require people to make their private signing keys available, for example. I wouldn't do it. So I don't think the GPL v3 conversion is going to happen for the kernel, since I personally don't want to convert any of my code.
-- LKML: Linus Torvalds: Re: GPL V3 and Linux - Dead Copyright Holders
I couldn't agree more. Stallman either has no concept of how private keys are supposed to be handled (unlikely) or he's really "jumped the shark" here.

I have no intention of using the GPL3 with these provisions. As TimeTool and any other GPL'ed code I've created does not include the optional "any later version" clause, they will remain under the GPL, version 2.


Blogger Ricc said...

Since this is just a draft, I hope Stallman (FSF) will step down of his mountain and listen. Many of the leading people in the industry (and non-leading as while) have similar views. Hopefully this will cause the FSF to modify both sections of this document. I currently would not wish to use this license on new projects let alone try to covert existing projects to it.

Ricc Ballard

January 27, 2006 at 6:37 AM  

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