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Subject: Re: Licensing and Copyright Issues

Re: Licensing and Copyright Issues

From: DervishD <>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 11:07:03 +0200

    Hi Ray :))

 * Ray Lambert <> dixit:
> DervishD wrote:
> > * Ray Lambert <> dixit:
> >> I would recommend that, upon making this move, we require that all
> >> submitters henceforth explicitly license under "GPLv3 or later"
> >
> > What's wrong with "GPLv3", without the "or later". If you include
> > the "or later", you're implicitly accepting any future GPL, no matter
> > its terms. Of course, if you don't like some future GPL, then you can
> > relicense the code... if you're the copyright holder. Given that there
> > are many copyright holders here, taking the risk of a future GPL may be
> > a problem.
> Well, the point was that if you put "or later" then there's no need to get
> permission from a contributor (who may no longer be available) in order to
> keep using the code and to re-license it (e.g. for GPLv4).

    I know the advantages of "or later", it's just that I don't want
that advantages. I mean, if someone doesn't use my code because it is
GPLv2 and not GPLv2-or-later then I'm going to regret it because I want
my code to be reused. But I'm not going to release any code under a
license I have not fully read, undestood and approve. If the price I
must pay for that is my code not being as widely used, I'm going to pay
for it.

    I didn't like at all the first draft of GPLv3. And while I don't
understand all possible ramifications and legal issues of GPLv3 I won't
switch to it.

> I guess everyone has their own "trust level" w.r.t. FSF & GPL. I
> personally feel comfortable trusting them to "do no harm".

    Me too, I don't think FSF will ever release a GPL to do any harm to
anybody. It's just that the best intentions can have dire consequences.
The current GPLv3 certainly protects against some modern problems, but
it has its drawbacks too.

> And you could always change your license to "GPLvX only" if a new GPL
> were to come out that was objectionable (although that wouldn't help
> the code you already released).

    Exactly, that's what I had to do, and I don't want to do it anymore.
If I ever get a grip on GPLv3 as good as the grip I have on GPLv2, I'll
switch all my projects happily.

> > The GPLv3 *MAY* give problems if some enterprise wants to use
> > RockBox as their default firmware and contribute back with money,
> > support or whatever. OK, I hate TiVO-ization, too, and to me it's
> > plainly immoral, but some enterprise may be bound by patents and the
> > they won't use/support RockBox if GPLv3'ed for fear.
> This concept of throwing out GPLv3 because of the DRM language has always
> bothered me. Folks seem to get stuck in a box thinking about this.
> The GPL has a specific reason for existing. It's to protect the hard work
> of programmers from those people who would use it to their own advantage,
> to the detriment of the very people that toiled over its creation in the
> first place. This is essentially what "TiVo-ization" is and it's why so
> many folks (yourself included) think it's wrong and even immoral (which I
> agree with); it's basically a form of stealing. Why should you (or
> anyone) allow any company to "steal" your work in this manner? You
> shouldn't. That's what the GPL (and, yes, its DRM and patent clauses)
> protect against.

    I understand the anti-tivoization clauses, and I know why they
exists. And no, I don't want any corporation to make use of my code in a
tivoized way. For me that's stealing, period. But the fact is that
that's not a common case, and GPLv3 will do (IMHO) more harm than good
for opensource. I mean, corporations don't want free source now (GPLv2,
I mean) because they usually don't understand why they should give "for
free" anything. They consider free software programmers stupid because
they don't charge directly for their work and they don't hide their
work. Fortunately, this is changing and corporations now see the clear
advantages of free software.

    Now, throw a bit of "DRM" and "patent" into the mix and corporations
will step back. They won't touch any piece of free software with a ten
meters pole. I've seen that happen.

    For me this is not an issue, because I will be very happy if my code
is not tivoized and if patents have to be granted to use it! But I'm
thinking in the FOSS ecosystem (to use the same term as you), and I
think that the benefits of GPLv3 will be largely covered with the
disadvantages. This is my opinion, and I really want to be wrong here.
Free software changed my life (REALLY) and it changed my way of seeing a
lot of things regarding human knowledge. I've never (to the date)
written a single line of code that haven't been released under GPLv2 or
other free software licenses. I don't work on propietary code, never.
And if I ever have to do it, I will leave programming and I will work

    What I mean is that I really value free software, and GPLv3
provisions certainly work in my favor. If I don't use it is because I
still have to see the ramifications of using it, I cannot foresee the
consequences as good as I see the consequences of using GPLv2. I don't
reject GPLv3, I just say that to adopt a license you have to fully
understand it even at the legal level.

    That's why I'm pointing a finger at the "or later" thing. I prefer
not to license my code for future, unpublished licenses.

> If you do want to work with companies, the GPLv3 and its DRM and patent
> clauses *still* work in your favor, because they prevent a company that
> you're delaing with from taking advantage of you.

    Yes, you're right! I'm not questioning it. I don't even question
that GPLv4 or GPLv20 will be even better and will protect the free
software programmers even better. The point is that, if you want to work
with a company, you have to fight the "corporation-brick-mind".
Corporations are, at best, reticent to use free software. They will
happily use BSD code, because the license is simple, and if a lawyer and
a programmer explain GPLv2 correctly, they may use GPLv2 code. The
problem is that patents are a pain in the arse, and DRM is a bigger
pain, and some companies must work with patents and DRM and then they
will be scared to death to use GPLv3 code. Because they don't give a
heck if it protects or not the programmer, they think they will have to
allow some usages they don't want to allow, and will make other
companies able to use some products they don't want them to use.

    In the end, it's the same issue that happened with GPLv2: companies
thought that their competitors will have access to their work for free.
And they were right, it's just that they didn't see that THEY WILL HAVE
same, but many people will be able to access a lot of knowledge that
before that was fully closed.

    For GPLv3 to work, companies must admit that enforcing patents is
not good for technical improvements, and that DRM is a bad thing to do.
> Most importantly (w.r.t. working with companies) if a given company can't
> abide by the GPL for whatever reason, there is *always* the possibility of
> licensing to that company under a different license (even a commercial
> one). So the idea that the GPL might prevent working with a company is
> simply false. It only prevents it (maybe) for the *default case*, which
> is what the GPL represents.

    Legally, yes. In practice, I have my doubts. For example, I don't
know what would happen if a company wants to use RockBox for their DAP
and they have a DRM key to play DRM'd content. Probably they won't be
able to play DRM'd contents legally, and if they think their customers
want that... Myself, I don't want DRM'd content even gratis, but the
companies may think differently. I don't know this, and I don't know if
GPLv3 will kill any possibility of RockBox being used by a DAP
manufacturer in the future. I think that it will :(

    On the other hand, I see the point to go to GPLv3: I don't want to
see RockBox in a DAP, the users paying for it (probably the DAP won't be
cheaper just for having a cheaper fw) while at the same time not being
able to upgrade it unless the binary is "preapproved" by the
manufacturer, or not being able to install a version with a bug fixed,
even when they will have access to the sources. That is stealing, and
currently GPLv2 doesn't protect against such use.
> No, IANAL, but I read Groklaw a lot... ;)

    Well, that's almost like being a lawyer without having to eat human
flesh actually XDD IANAL either, and that's why changing the license
bothers me. I have to read GPLv3 much more thoroughly, read opinions
about the license, use cases, examples, etc.

    Raúl Núñez de Arenas Coronado

Linux Registered User 88736 |
It's my PC and I'll cry if I want to... RAmen!
We are waiting for 13 Feb 2009 23:31:30 +0000 ...
Received on 2007-09-12

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