Second Discussion Draft of GPLv3 Released

The second discussion draft of the GNU General Public License version 3 was released on 2006 July 27, along with the first discussion draft of the GNU Lesser General Public License. While the DRM clause has been updated and clarified, Linus still doesn't likeit. From the CNET article:
“Say I'm a hardware manufacturer. I decide I love some particular piece of open-source software, but when I sell my hardware, I want to make sure it runs only one particular version of that software, because that's what I've validated. So I make my hardware check the cryptographic signature of the binary before I run it,” Torvalds said. “The GPLv3 doesn't seem to allow that, and in fact, most of the GPLv3 changes seem to be explicitly designed exactly to not allow the above kind of use, which I don't think it has any business doing.”
The DRM debate here is getting quite heated. Out of my disdain for DRM, I initially disagreed with Linus. As I think about it more though, I am starting to agree with him. Let me explain why. His contention (or at least my interpretation of it) is not that DRM is good, it's that it's not within the rights of a software license to put restrictions on a hardware device. I think that's true and the clause is also a statement that markets don't work. If some hardware vendors out there wants to make a device that only runs software version foo, I can't see a problem with that (as long as the hardware manufacturer is explicit in this requirement). You still have full access to the code and are free to run it elsewhere. You're freedom is not limited and you'd have bought the device knowing full well what the restrictions are. You are free not to purchase such a device and if a sufficient number of people do not, the company will go out of business – ie. the market made the decision. Now, let me go from hypothetical to a situation where I think this would actually be useful. I'd like to see all voting software Open Sourced. The nature of voting in democratic counties is such that we should have full access to the code that decides our leaders. A single bug could be absolutely detrimental and have astounding implications (Bush for a third term anyone?). The more eyes on that code the better. BUT, the voting machines themselves should certainly only run the exact version of the code that has been certified for obvious reasons. The GPLv3 seems to preclude that possibility. DRM aside, it seems like many other large companies, such as HP, have problems with other clauses. All in all, it seems like v3 of the GPL is going to have a very rough time gaining adoption and may serve to further polarize the Open Source licensing landscape, where concerns over proliferation already abound.
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One Response to Second Discussion Draft of GPLv3 Released

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with GPLv3. Having access to the source and not being able to modify and run your modified version is putting a big restriction on open sourceness of that code.

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