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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] contributors' licensing conditions

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] contributors' licensing conditions
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 13:54:18 +0900
User-agent: Gnus/5.1007 (Gnus v5.10.7) XEmacs/21.5-b24 (dandelion, linux)

>>>>> "Andy" == Andy Tai <address@hidden> writes:

    Andy> Hi, the first draft of the GNU GPL v3 has been released and
    Andy> I like what I see.

I don't.  It's very carelessly written[1], and it's very hard to
understand the motivation for many of the exceptions.  A leading
example is the blanket permission to "propagate" effectively
copy-protected programs, which is really weird, and equally explicitly
contradicted in the section on DRM.  It doesn't get better from there,
either, except for those sections that are taken verbatim from, or are
slight clarifications of, GPL v2.

Philosophically, the section on interpretation vis-a-vis DRM is pretty
disheartening.  In fact it says Thou Shalt Not Use Free Software for
Privacy Protection, because what else is privacy protection but
white-hat DRM?  Any system that can be used to protect personal
privacy can be adapted to DRM.  Do we have to remove login and chmod
from the GNU system?  ("Wheel bit" deja vu.)

More fundamentally, this retracts a core principle of the GPL up to
v2: it doesn't tell you what to do with the software, only the license
terms under which you may redistribute it.  This violates Freedom 0,
which is explicitly affirmed in dGPLv3[2] for the first time.

The section on DRM also says that "covered software is not part of a
system" to deny users who can _run_ a program their other rights.
Does this close the "ASP loophole" for systems where the webserver
program is dGPLv3?  Does this go further, and require that any
dGPLv3ed server run via inetd have source code available, so that the
ASP loophole is available only to standalone daemons?  How does it
affect a company's ability to deploy covered software internally
without thereby giving employees all dGPLv3 rights, including
redistribution of the software and licenses on any patents?  And how
about the user's side: if I can run but not copy a dGPLv3ed program
using the SSH protocol, does that mean I'm not allowed to use lsh
because lsh may not be part of a "system of DRM"?

I'm sure that all of these questions can be answered, more or less
satisfactorily.  But given that they haven't been answered yet, and
will presumably require changes in the language to be aswered
satisfactorily, it is _way_ premature to consider using this refugee
from _Fantasy & Science Fiction_ for any free software.[3]

Socially, this is clearly going to be very divisive.  Andrew Suffield
is the obvious person to comment, but I would worry about Debian's
reaction if I were you.  On that ground as well I think it's best to wait.

[1]  Ie, it's a spec for what GPLv3 should accomplish; it's not a
draft of a license to implement it.

[2]  Soi-disant[1] "draft GPL v3, version of 2006 January 16".

[3]  All these ideas were floated years ago, there's been plenty of
time to think seriously about them and give them robust, intelligible
expression.  What have these guys been doing in the meantime?

School of Systems and Information Engineering
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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