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iPhone restricts users, GPLv3 frees them

From: Peter Brown
Subject: iPhone restricts users, GPLv3 frees them
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 18:28:38 -0400

iPhone restricts users, GPLv3 frees them

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, June 28, 2007 -- On Friday, June
29, not everyone in the continental U.S. will be waiting in line to
purchase a $500 iPhone. In fact, hundreds of thousands of digital
aficionados around the globe won't be standing in line at all, for June
29 marks the release of version 3 of the GNU General Public License
(GPL). Version 2 of the GPL governs the world's largest body of free
software -- software that is radically reshaping the industry and
threatening the proprietary technology model represented by the iPhone.

The author of the the GPL is Professor Richard M. Stallman, president
and founder of the Free Software Foundation, and creator of the GNU
Project. With his first revision of the license in sixteen years,
version 3 of the GPL fights the most recent attempts to take the freedom
out of free software -- most notably, version 3 attacks "Tivoization" --
and that could be a problem for Apple and the iPhone.

Now, from China to India, from Venezuela to Brazil, from Tivos to cell
phones: Free software is everywhere and it is slowly building a
worldwide movement of users demanding that they have control over the
computers and electronic devices they own.

Tivoization and the iPhone?

"Tivoization" is a term coined by the FSF to describe devices that are
built with free software, but that use technical measures to prevent the
user from making modifications to the software -- a fundamental freedom
for free software users -- and an attack on free software that the GPLv3
will put a stop to.

The iPhone is leaving people questioning: Does it contain GPLed
software? What impact will the GPLv3 have on the long-term prospects for
devices like the iPhone that are built to keep their owners frustrated?

Peter Brown, executive director of the FSF said, "Tomorrow, Steve Jobs
and Apple release a product crippled with proprietary software and
digital restrictions: crippled, because a device that isn't under the
control of its owner works against the interests of its owner. We know
that Apple has built its operating system, OS X, and its web browser
Safari, using GPL-covered work -- it will be interesting to see to what
extent the iPhone uses GPLed software."

The GNU GPL version 3 will be released at 12:00pm (EDT) -- six hours
before the release of the iPhone -- bringing to a close eighteen months
of public outreach and comment, in revision of the world's most popular
free software license.


About the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL)
The GNU GPL is the most widely used free software license worldwide:
almost three quarters of all free software packages are distributed
under this license. It is not, however, the only free software license.

Richard Stallman wrote the version 1 and 2 of the GNU GPL with legal
advice from Perkins, Smith & Cohen. Version 1 was released in 1989, and
version 2 in 1991. Since 1991, free software use has increased
tremendously, and computing practices have changed, introducing new
opportunities and new threats. In 2005, Stallman began revising the GPL
for version 3. In January 2006, the FSF began a systematic process of
public review and feedback, with legal advice and organizational support
from the Software Freedom Law Center.

About the GNU Operating System and Linux
Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a free
software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only
operating system developed specifically for the sake of users' freedom.

In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for one,
the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under the GNU
GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux formed a
complete free operating system, which made it possible for the first
time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination is the
GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see

The GNU GPL is used by developers with various views, but it was written
to serve the ethical goals of the free software movement. Says Stallman,
"The GNU GPL makes sense in terms of its purpose: freedom and social
solidarity. Trying to understand it in terms of the goals and values of
open source is like trying understand a CD drive's retractable drawer as
a cupholder. You can use it for that, but that is not what it was
designed for."

About The Free Software Foundation
The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting
computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute
computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as
in freedom) software—particularly the GNU operating system and its
GNU/Linux variants—and free documentation for free software. The FSF
also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of
freedom in the use of software. Its Web site, located at, is
an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support
the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters
are in Boston, MA, USA.

Media Contacts
Joshua Gay
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation 
617-542-5942 address@hidden

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