How GPL 3

By eweek  |  Posted 2006-01-20 Print this article Print

.0 Will Tackle DRM"> So what is the draft license actually doing about DRM? It cant stop there from being DRM; all it can do is stop GPL-covered software from being perverted into part of a DRM system, and this is something that people have spoken about doing, people who thought that it was actually better to have supposedly free software twisted into DRM than have DRM implemented some other way.
Why do I say twisted? Its because although they would be using a program that was nominally free, in that its source code had a free software license on it, practically speaking, the users would not be able to exercise the freedoms that define free software, so it would not really be free software.
To read details from the rationale document released regarding the GPL 3.0 draft changes, click here. So we have put in provisions to make sure that they give you whatever signature codes are needed so that you really can run your modified version and it really can do what the original version could do, except it will do things a little differently whenever your modification happens to run. And if they wont do that, then they cant distribute at all because they would be distributing the code wrongly. But we have not said that you cant put code into the program to do those things, what we have said is that you have to distribute enough keys such that the user can do those things and have full control over what he does. How does the draft license address the whole issue of patents? Well, again, we cant make patents go away by whatever we put in a software license. There is literally nothing that software developers can do to protect themselves against the dangers of patents, except not allow patents in their country. We have just found out that the European Union is going to make another attempt to impose software patents. The need to have the GPL more compatible with other free licenses is one I have heard a lot about, as well as the issue of license proliferation. Your thoughts on this? Were not interested in the Open Source Initiatives approval of licenses. Weve been judging licenses as to whether they are free software licenses many years before there was an OSI. Theyre entitled to have their own opinions and have nothing, particularly, to do with our movement. Click here to read about Microsofts talks with the OSI over shared source licenses. So what we have done is not in any way changing the licenses that qualify as free software licenses; what we are doing is making the GPL compatible with a larger subset of that. You see, some free software licenses are compatible with the GPL and some are not. If a free software license permits a modified version to be distributed under the GPL, then it is compatible with the GPL. We have artificially changed the GPL so that a larger range of those licenses will be compatible. The incompatibility is always unfortunate in itself, but the whole point of the GPL was to ensure that other restrictions cannot be added. So, what was the fundamental basis for the previous incompatibility of some free licenses with the GPL? In some cases they said things about certain trademarks, some had the requirement that you cant remove the command to download the source code, and then there are those with patent retaliation clauses. The Apache license is incompatible with GPL Version 2 because of a trademark clause and a patent retaliation clause, as I recall. I believe we have made both of those things compatible now. To read about the move to reduce the number of open-source licenses, click here. But there are some free software licenses that have a patent retaliation clause that says if you sue us for patent infringement, no matter about what, then you lose the right to use this program. Next Page: The future of free software.


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