DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by Anonymous

July 27 2006

I don't think Linus misunderstood the DRM clause. He disagreed with it,
because his way of looking at the problem has changed since he was a student.

After working at Transmeta, Linus can understand *why* a company would try to
limit people from messing with software on an embedded device. As a technical
programmer, he still releases software open source and uses open source, and
demands that he not be treated as an 'IDIOT' (
http://lists.osdl.org/pipermail/desktop_architects/2005-December/000390.html ).
But he can understand why TiVo does what it does. And he disagreed with the

03:16 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by Anonymous

July 27 2006

I'm pretty sure I didn't misunderstand anything at all.

A lot of people are confused by the DRM issue, and the problem comes mostly from the organization of the first GPLv3 draft itself. It had a section on DRM, and that section is totally irrelevant and has almost no semantic content.

(In the new draft, the DRM section has been renamed to talk about users' rights instead, but it's still the same case - that section isn't actually the interesting one).

The real anti-DRM thing is the new and bogus language in section 1 - the definition of "source code". That is the true change in both the previous and the current draft, and that's my personal beef.

The fact that they had a separate (and largely boring) section called "DRM" was never the issue, and was (and is) a total red herring. The real problem was always the re-definition of source code.

Actually, I take that back. The real problem was and is that there are lots of people who disagreed with the FSF on issues (mine was the definition of source code, while I know that some commercial entities felt that the patent language was totally unsupportable). And the FSF took that input, and then totally ignored it.

So as far as I can tell, the whole GPLv3 "process" has been a sham from the very beginning. Eben and Richard talk about "discussion drafts", but it's not "discussion" if you don't actually care what the other side says. And Richard most definitely doesn't care (Eben probably does, but has no actual say in the end result).

So forget about this whole "community input" thing. Input has been given, and then duly ignored.

Oh, well. At least that's how I've seen it, and maybe that explains my disillusionment with the GPLv3.


07:11 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by PJ

July 27 2006

Hey Linus,

I would appreciate it if you would explain what your
objections are to the definition of source code, so I can
understand it.

As to the process ignoring input, I can tell you that I
offered a suggestion and it's in the draft. And someone
offered the BitTorrent change and it's in the draft.

So I don't think it's accurate to say that they are
ignoring input, although you may feel they are ignoring
your input. I know though from the committee discussions
that they are definitely not ignoring input, including
yours, but it may be a misunderstanding. If you will tell
me your issues so a nonprogrammer can understand, either
here on in an email, I'll gladly try to be the bridge.

That is what Groklaw is trying to be, a way to get the
tech community and the lawyers in sync.

07:39 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by Anonymous

July 27 2006

I tried to explain my own disagreement with the GPLv3 in a number of emails to the linux kernel, but obviously haven't been uniformly successful.

And yes (responding both to you, and to another poster), I realize that input has been taken on the drafts, but all the changes I've seen have been about largely stylistic issues - wording changes, things like that. I don't think any input on any really fundamental disagreement has been really on the table.

Now, I also realize that that is probably exactly what the FSF was going for. Rms had a vision for what he wanted the GPLv3 to say, and it says that, and then they are open to modifying details. Fair enough, and I'm not fighting the GPLv3 changes per se. I'm just telling people why they are bad changes for me, and why I think they are bad changes for most other projects too.

I'll try to explain it once more, usign the analogy that seems to have been the most effective so far with some people. To me, the GPLv2 has always been about "quid pro quo", ie I want people to pay me back in kind. There are other issues (and many of them I think end up being the reasons why it has been so successful), but that "quid pro quo" is why I started using the GPL, and I think it's a very fundamental thing. It's also - to me - very fair. I give source code out, you can repay in kind.

Now, the difference between "quid pro quo" and the FSF stance is that in many ways, the reason for the GPL as far as the FSF is concerned was never "fairness". It was all about a higher calling, and about something that the FSF thinks is much bigger - "freedom".

And I disagree. I think that "freedom" is fine, but we're not exactly talking about slavery here. Trying to make it look like we're the Abraham Lincoln of our generation just makes us look stupid and stuck up. I'd much rather talk about "fairness" and about issues like just being a much better process for generating better code, and having fun while doing so.

And the thing is, the GPLv2 was a wonderful license, not because it was about "freedom", but because it was a good meeting point for all of these issues!

The GPLv3 is much inferior. It no longer works in the "fairness" sense. It's purely a firebrand, and only good for the extremist policies of the FSF. It's no longer a nice balance that a lot of people can accept, and that a lot of companies can stand behind once you explain it to them.

The FSF doesn't like that Linux in particular turned the GPLv2 into something pragmatic. I think the FSF sees Linux has having "usurped" their place as the guardians of peoples morals. And they seem blind to the reason why Linux did so - exactly because the Linux reading of the GPLv2 has never been the extremist firebrand reading, but a much more modest "this is fair", "this is fun" and "this is a good way to evolve technology together".

So I think the GPLv3 is a wonderful license if you want to ignore all the good things Linux stands for. If you just want to push your own moral agenda, the GPLv3 is great. But if you want to have fun, work with people, and just get the best damn product out there, and do so while everybody thinks that what they are doing is "fair", the GPLv3 sucks.

The GPLv3 is designed to take the FSF back to its original "good old days", when "Free Software" was a war, and rms was its protelyzing general. But the fact is, it's not a war, and peaceful and happy co-existence is actually much preferable to moral jihads

And that's why I think the GPLv2 is much better. It allows us all to agree to just work together, without making it a religion. Linux was a big reason Open Source isn't "religious" (and why it's called "Open Source" and not "Free Software" - exactly to avoid the bad old religious dats), and GPLv3 is trying to turn the clock back.

Does that explain my stance?


08:18 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by PJ

July 27 2006

Well, you explain your emotions, but not the legal part.

What exactly do you want the license to say that it doesn't now say, particularly the redefinition of source code part?

I am not political at all, Linus. Not even a tiny bit, so I hear you on that. But I also see from a legal perspective that the GPL has value precisely because it forces the unkind and unchivalrous (such as SCO), shall we say, the folks that really do not want to play fair and equal, to do so or else.

That isn't politics. It may be to others. But to me it's a legal issue.

If we rely on good will, it doesn't always work, you know, not with big corporations and sometimes not with small ones. Money is a very big thing to some, and they want the code, but they don't wish to give back, and being able to modify the code is one reason it's so truly valuable. You can make it do what you want it to do.

If you get rid of that, you've lost one of the things that made Linux possible.

I'm not into joining anything. I'm not a member of FSF, for example, but I don't "belong" to Open Source in opposition, nor do I think that just having fun is enough when faced with the SCO's of this world.

And I can tell you from a legal point of view that the GPL is the MVP of the SCO story. If it had not required the things that it does, your code would be theirs. It's that simple, from my point of view.

That "extremism" if you will is what paid off big time, and I think it's time for everyone to realize it, and to realize that not everyone is going to play fair or even wants to. The GPL is what protects the common pool of code. Nothing else does, that I'm aware of.

From that standpoint, what Tivo is doing is a fast track to destroying some of the legal strength of the GPL. I think something needs to be done to make sure that in the future a Linux could happen again.

09:38 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by Anonymous

July 28 2006

I explain the emotions, because the legal part of the GPLv3 makes no sense what-so-ever if you don't understand what is driving the changes.

The whole notion that "Tivo is bad" is idiotic. It's the exact same argument as "proprietary software is bad", and it's wrong. It's the stupid FSF agenda that it's about "us vs them", which has never been true.

Proprietary software does not take anything away from open source. The fact that windows exists, and is proprietary, is totally and utterly irrelevant from an open source angle. The proprietary people are not evil, they are just misguided. They think that they can compete better by keeping secrets, and they are wrong.

The whole point of open source is that we can do better than that, and that we can do so exactly because we can work on each others work - not on the work of the proprietary people. We don't need them, but they are also not our enemies.

But more importantly, it is their choice to not believe us. It's not our place to force our beliefs down their throat - if we cannot show that we can do better software than they can do, then what the hell is the point of it all?

And the exact same thing is true of proprietary hardware. Tivo isn't the enemy. If you don't like their closed hardware, just don't buy it. Make your own. See the exact same logic as with proprietary software? If you don't like proprietary software, nobody forces you to use it or buy it, and you can help the people that do alternatives.

I realize that a lot of people see this as a fight. But I tell you, those people are missing the point. We're not fighting. At least the useful people aren't fighting. No good code ever comes out of people who do things because they are afraid, or because they hate. And I'm not just sayign that because it sounds good - it's really true. If you make your choices because you fear somebody, you'll make the wrong choices.

Look at all the idiotic choices that Sun has made wrt Java and other things. A lot of them seem to be directly a result not of trying to do the right thing to their custimer, but because of fear and loathing of their competition. The whole choice of their licenses seem to not be about trying to make the best technical choice, but from fear of others - both Microsoft and Linux.

And I'm sorry, but I refuse to be that stupid.

So it all boils down to this: do you want to use a license that is for something good (GPLv2), or one that is against something bad? And I claim that having your guiding principle to be against something else is not just insufferably stupid, it's also a sure way to make your own life miserable.

I think the GPLv2 is a very positive license. It's about the positive belief that together, you can make something better.

In contrast, every single big and fundamental addition to the GPLv3 is about hate and fear. What used to be a "quid pro quo" has been turned into a weapon. And that is not just sad, it is counter-productive. The FSF seems to be actively trying to turn this into a fight, when most of the entities involved don't want to fight at all.

And yes, I realize that they saw the GPLv2 as a holy crusade too, and if you have that mindset, the new GPLv3 just makes sense in a "let's escalate the fight" kind of sense. Me, I just never believed in that whole FSF idiocy.

And take it from me, the FSF has been acting idiotic for the last decade. Why do you think it's called "Open Source" in the first place? Exactly because the FSF has made a dirty word out of "Freedom".

And hey, if people cannot see that, it's their problem. I've tried to explain my standpoint, but in the end I can just say that hey, it's my choice. And I've talked to a lot of kernel engineers, and quite frankly, it's pretty damn unanimous. The people who are spoiling for a fight are not the people who are actually getting things done.

I think I've explained about as much as I'm likely to be able to explain. If people can't see what's wrong with the FSF, me standing on a soap-box won't help you.


02:11 AM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by Anonymous

July 28 2006

>The whole notion that "Tivo is bad" is idiotic.

That is your opinion, which you are entitled to, so, so far so good.

>It's the exact same argument as "proprietary software is bad"

No, now you're stretching it. They are two completely different arguments IMO. I
see Tivo as a legal loophole which circumvents the freedoms the GPL was supposed
to grant me, the user. But I don't mind proprietary software (I like commercial
closed source computer games for instance, hey, I'm a geek), and I suppose that
means I disagree with Stallmans agenda, so there. And regardless, Tivo should
just have used one of the BSD's instead. Or maybe you should have chosen a
different license to begin with.

>just don't buy it

We may not always have that choice, which leads us to fear:

(also, your faith that companies will do "the right thing" is amusing
to say the least)

>If you make your choices because you fear somebody, you'll make the wrong

If someone is holding a gun to my head, fear would guide my choice, and it might
save my life. Extreme (and silly) counter-example, but it proves you wrong.
Don't be so quick to draw conclusions. We do not know the future, and neither
should we ignore it blindly. Yes, a future of DRM is currently just a fear, but
a justified one IMO. Why ignore it?

>The people who are spoiling for a fight are not the people who are actually
getting things done.

Because we (the users) are the ones losing our rights, not you (the

All this silliness out of the way, let's get back on topic.

The addition to section 1 in v3 addresses a legal loophole in the GPL, it does
not disallow the co-existance of proprietary and free software, please correct
me if I'm wrong. I'm familiar with Stallmans crusade, but I fail to see what
that has to do with v3, it's simply a legal bugfix. Please tell me why I'm
wrong, I'd really like to know.

Per Jensen

04:26 AM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by Anonymous

July 28 2006

That is your opinion, which you are entitled to, so, so far so good.

The thing is, it's more than just "my opinion".

It's the opinion of the person who started the project, and judging from the people I talk to, it's also the opinion of the people who actually do most of the work on the project.

Talking to yet other people (a lot of the customers and users of the project), people have also told me that the patent clauses are simply not acceptable in the form that they are in the GPLv3. I don't actually even care that much why, but I do care about the fact that the people who tell me that are "the good guys", ie people who have actually made a difference for Linux and open source.

In other words - yes, it's an opinion, but it's a shared one, and it's one that is both informed, and more importantly, it's one that is held by the people who actually do the work.

And if you don't see how that matters, you're not even worth talking to.


11:28 AM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by PJ

July 28 2006

You've gotten hooked into the very thing you are saying one should never do, decide something based on hating or thinking something is evil.

The GPL isn't just FSF and FSF isn't the GPL. They are totally different now. You even love the GPLv2 but it's FSF authored too. See my point?

If you could forget this came from FSF, and just look at the license itself, I think you'd see it a bit differently. Not that you have to. It's your free will decision, and i totally agree that proprietary software is a choice anyone can make. My mom uses Microsoft software. I have it on one half of a laptop.

But the one issue you haven't addressed yet is the issue of users, end users. What about us? We need to modify software. I couldn't run Groklaw if it were not for the ability to modify the Geeklog code. We are able to tweak it to do what we need here, and so even though I am not a programmer, I still rely very much on the ability to modify GPL code.

You are assuming that the world will always offer both GPL and nonGPL software. I think that is naive, in the sense that the whole SCO lawsuit was about destroying the GPL, and if it had succeeded, it would affect you too. So I see you as looking at the past, the good old days, instead of realizing that the pressures on the GPL are real and they are increasing, and from an end user perspective, Tivo represents a threat, because if they get away with it, others will do the same thing, and if enough do it, your solution means that GPL users like myself will be pretty much locked out of a great deal of entertainment and information.

Now, that is happening anyway, but at least with the GPL I can work around it, but if that gets blocked too, I become a mere consumer, sitting passively and receiving but unable to do anything to make it what I want.

That is not acceptable. You don't see it, I think, because you are thinking in a programmer's way. You can just write your own Tivo, I'm sure, but I can't. But it's the principle of the thing that matters, the principle that I as an end user want to be able to modify GPL code.

This has nothing to do with FSF. I want that. I, personally, PJ, want to be able to modify code, and Tivo is undermining that. It's not just Tivo, it's the technique. Please address the end user issue, and let's leave FSF out of it. I consider them irrelevant to this issue.

There's a reason why the GPL is chosen by more programmers than any other FOSS license. It's because they trust it to be fair. Ditto end users. It has nothing to do with endorsing the FSF.

PS Please don't swear on Groklaw. It's a violation of our comments policy.

01:04 PM EDT

Sorry, Linus

Authored by PJ

July 28 2006

I am sorry, Linus, but I had to remove your comment because you violated our comments policy by swearing so much. Please read the comments policy linked on the left. Believe it or not, it keeps the atmosphere here one where ideas can be expressed without the personal attacks that I find deeply offensive no matter who does it.

Now, because I don't want anyone to miss the meat of what you said, here it is without the sauce:

Well, not legally, regardless, I cannot help but feel you are ignoring the other side of the coin. You talk about "fairness", and yes, I agree, the GPLv2 is fair -- for developers, but not for me, the user.

That's [deleted], and you should be ashamed of being such a whiner.

First off, the developers are the ones that are doing this for you in the first place. So by definition, their opinion and feelings do matter more. They don't owe you anything, and any user who talks about this being "unfair" is just whining.

But more importantly, you're fundamentally wrong. I tried to explain to you why you were wrong, but either I did a bad job, or (more likely), you're just not interested in listening.

My explanation for why the GPLv3 is bad is that if you make your decisions based on fear and loathing, they will be the wrong ones.

The whole point about the changes in the GPLv3 is to be "against" something else. That's how the FSF has always acted, and I don't know if you remember (or ever saw) the animosity between the BSD camps and the GPL camps, but a lot of it was because of how the FSF was preaching their religion as if it was "evil" to do anything else, even with the GPLv2.

And [deleted], I'm proud of the fact that Linux helped change that mental landscape. There were other projects (and certainly other people) too, but Linux was one big part of the movement away from that horrible "us vs them" mindset.

And the fact is, by being pragmatic and not being too crazy about it, the "Open Source" people ended up making open source a lot more accessible to a lot more users, and they made the software better too. Because when you make your technical choices on technical grounds, rather than on religious ones, they end up being better.

In other words, my stance is not at all "leaving the users behind". Quite the reverse. I'm the one that tries to guarantee that we make decisions that make sense from a technology standpoint, which in turn means that our users will have a better system, rather than one that is hobbled by non-technical limitations.

Just as a very concrete example, the anti-DRM stance of the GPLv3 is not only anti-Tivo, it's also anti-security. Exactly because it tries to make a non-technical stand on a technical issue, one that has very real impact on real behaviour.

The fact is, that signed binaries are not only a good idea, they are an integral part of pretty much any security scheme. Every time you do a "yum upgrade", you tend to be getting a lot of binary packages that were signed with a key that you are not going to get access to, because if you had access to that key, the whole security model would break down.

So a sane person will not say "you cannot stop execution of a binary based on a key that users don't have access to", because a sane person realizes that this is very fundamental technology, and that it's a technical issue, not a political one.

And any time you let your fears or your politics make what should be technical choices, the end result is inevitably crap, crap, crap. And the GPLv3 makes exactly those kinds of technical choices, on exactly that kind of non-technical basis.

And I'm trying to protect users from idiots that think that it's a good idea to make technical choices on non-technical grounds. Notice how the GPLv2 (the good one) didn't do that. It even made expressly clear that the act of "running" the program was not restricted in any way, shape or form.

Here's a quote from section 0 in GPLv2 that is totally gone in version 3, and people should think long and hard about the fact that the new version is a big change in this area:

Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program). Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.

So do me a favour, and stop talking [deleted], and start actually thinking deeper about the very fundamental changes that the GPLv3 introduces. Also, do give the people who actually wrote the code that the license is supposed to cover some respect.

So that is what Linus wrote, and now here is my response: First, the GPL wasn't written just for Linux. It was written for everybody, including end users, so it's simply not true that developers should get a louder voice. Linux is one GPL entity, but it isn't they only one, by a long shot. So Linux uses the GPL, not the other way around.

By that I mean the GPL is useful to Linux, but it wasn't designed for it.

That is what is so unique about the GPL. It cares about end users, and Linus, we end users care about more than just having great tech. I want to own my computer in the sense that I want to know what it is doing and I want to be the one that decides what it does. I want to be able to modify the code myself.

Finally, I believe you are repeating your misunderstanding about binary drivers. Really. You need to stop saying that about security. There is nothing in the GPLv3 that I've seen that says you have to provide the keys to the binaries.

01:24 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by Anonymous

July 28 2006

"I think I've explained about as much as I'm likely to be able to explain. If people can't see what's wrong with the FSF, me standing on a soap-box won't help you."

So let me see if I understand. You pretty much think the GPLv2 is perfect and there is no need for a GPLv3. Does that sum it up? :) I really want to thank you for explaining your point of view, it has helped me significantly. I do agree with you on the GPLv2 being near perfect. I only wish I had the capability to build my own hardware in the same way that I can write my own software. Until your rant I was leaning to the RMS side of things on Tivoization. Now I'm not as sure where I stand on the issue. I do agree with you and think it might be best to just keep with GPLv2 and not mess up a good thing.


01:58 PM EDT

No need to be sorry...

Authored by Anonymous

July 28 2006

I happen to believe that politeness (especially on the internet) is somewhat overrated, since it's too damn easy for people to misunderstand each other anyway, and a bit of bluntness can often punch through the more superficial issues. But hey, it's your forum and your rules, and you have the right yp (and should) enforce your own rules ;)

So to answer your post:

First, the GPL wasn't written just for Linux. It was written for everybody, including end users, so it's simply not true that developers should get a louder voice. Linux is one GPL entity, but it isn't they only one, by a long shot. So Linux uses the GPL, not the other way around.

Hey, I have no problem with that. I do have a gripe when people (very much including the FSF) then think that I should apparently mindlessly agree with a new version, even though I have made it very clear that I think the new version is much worse.

I'm telling it like I see it. The GPLv2 was a wonderful license. The GPLv3 is a total disaster. I've explained why I feel that way, and I don't see why you even argue against me. Are you saying that I don't have the right to choose my own license, especially one that has been very much a success, and that thousands of people (and hundreds of companies) have signed off on?

If somebody else wants to use the GPLv3 for a project they wrote, that's obviously their choice, but wouldn't it be good if they were first educated about why at least one big project maintainer decided it was a bad idea? The kernel is staying with v2, and I'm trying to tell people why. And yes, I'm upset when I get whining about the license on the project I started and still maintain. I'm sorry PJ, but you simply don't have the moral right to complain about another persons choice of license for his work, and neither does anybody else.

(Btw, this cuts both ways. It's why I don't complain about companies that think they should use the BSD license or keep their source code proprietary. Microsoft is obviously perfectly within its rights not believing in open source, and nobody should complain about them over that)

Finally, I believe you are repeating your misunderstanding about binary drivers. Really. You need to stop saying that about security. There is nothing in the GPLv3 that I've seen that says you have to provide the keys to the binaries.

Sorry, but you are just wrong. Maybe you don't understand the technical points, but let me quote the GPLv3 draft for you:

The Corresponding Source also includes any encryption or authorization keys necessary to install and/or execute modified versions from source code in the recommended or principal context of use, such that they can implement all the same functionality in the same range of circumstances.

And the thing is, that's exactly what requries a company like Tivo to give out the keys that they use for signing the binaries they trust. It's also something the DVD consortium would use to give out keys to the people they trust.

You seem to think that's a capital idea to make it illegal to use these things with open source, because you think Tivo is doing something bad. But what you don't realize, and what you refuse to listen to, is that the same clause also makes a lot of other uses impossible.

So let me repeat. The GPLv3 makes technical decisions where no technical decisions should be made. It makes a technical requirement that actually limits how the system can be used, in bad ways.

The fact is, people who build their own hardware are perfectly within their rights to then limit the use of that hardware some way. It's their choice if they let others tinker with it, the same way it is my choice whether I let other people tinker with the code I write.

And the fact is, anything that tries to stop Tivo from doing what they are doing very fundamentally stops others from doing perfectly valid things, because the technology doesn't care. Keysigning (and keeping those keys secret) is just a tool. You can't tell people that they can't use that tool. It's stupid.

Finally, as a constructive thing, let me tell you what would not be stupid, for example.

For example, it would not be stupid to have a clause that requires that you make it easy to verify that you actually complied with the GPL licenses. So it would not be stupid to say (for example) that you must not encrypt the binary in order to make it harder to decode and verify that it matches the sources you made available.

See the difference? This one doesn't say that encryption and keys are bad, and it doesn't say that it's wrong to limit your hardware some way. Instead of limiting the use of the software, it just says that you cannot try to hide the changes you've done, so that we can more easily verify that you actually did comply with the "you have to make your sources available" part.

But that's not what the GPLv3 does. The GPLv3 tries to expand the copyright past the project itself. Instead of saying that it cares about the source code, the GPLv3 says that it also cares about the hardware, and the environment required to run the source code. That's a big thing.

And let me give you an example that is not about Tivo, but very much about the very thing that the GPLv3 explicitly mentions: keys for things like DVD players that may have special keys in hardware that are actually used to decrypt the disk.

For example, let's say that you were creating a trusted voting machine. You'd really want to verify the software that the machine is running, so you'd obviously want that to be open source, so that people can see what it actually does, and you'd also like to verify that the binary that is run actually matches that source code.

Fine so far. But you might very validly also want to have a secret key that is actually used for communicating the end results, and/or validate the hardware itself. You do not want to have people make their own random voting machines (using either proprietary or open source software, and proprietary or open hardware), and have them be able to connect to the central voting registry and claim to be "valid".

See? Secret keys are a tool. They are a tool for privacy, they are a tool for DRM, they are a tool for identity validation, they are a tool for a lot of things. The fact that they can be used to limit something does not make them bad.

And by definition, that secret key must be secret. It would be handed off to the software by an external means, and while the software would be "functional" without it, it sure as hell wouldn't be able to do what a real voting machine is able to do without it. So by definition, that secret key is very much required for the "same functionality", the exact same way that a DVD player has a secret key to actually show the contents of the disk.

Can you not see that the GPLv3 makes something like this illegal? Can you not see that it is technically exactly the same thing as what Tivo wants to do? Can you not see that making technical limitations in a license is a huge and gaping problem?

And the thing is, the stupid and idiotic key signing rules are just my particular hang-up. It's actually not what most companies seem to be upset about. There aren't that many Tivo's or voting machine manufacturers about, so I'm not complaining because people have been complaining to me - I'm complaining because I see a very fundamental disconnect between the technology and the license.

But companies seem to be more upset about the patent wording. The point being, the GPLv3 really does have problems, and not admitting that those problems exist is fairly shortsighted. The people here, for example, seem to sometimes degenerate into more of a "politically correct groupthink", and less about critical thinking in general.

The fact is, the GPLv2 has been very successful for fifteen years. Why are you automatically assuming that the v3 changes are changes for the better?


02:32 PM EDT

No need to be sorry...

Authored by PJ

July 28 2006

Well, finally. I will relay your alternative suggestion. Sometimes people assume that a good idea is naturally in another person's head, and therefore they are derelict in not choosing it, whereas in truth, they never thought of it. The change regarding BitTorrent is a good example. No one at FSF had ever thought of that situation until some unknown person wrote in about it.

I would encourage you most seriously to do the same, because you will do a better job than I will, for sure, of expressing your own idea. But in any case, I will report this to the committee I'm on.

As to you saying I don't grant you the right to choose, I think if you search this very thread, you'll find I've said you *DO* have that right. I've said so several times. I'm perfectly comfortable with anyone choosing their own license, and while I want you to adopt V3, assuming the final version is acceptable and remembering this is still a draft, I will always recognize your right to choose whatever you want.

But I have that same right. And I will naturally prefer a license that does what I want it to do for me as an end user. And what I want as an end user is the right to control my own computer. That's where you are misunderstanding, I think. You don't need someone's key to a binary to install and use the software. That is why it is worded as it is, to exclude the binary key having to be given over: "necessary to install and/or execute modified versions from source code"). Get it?

And as for the voting machines, there is a fine comment earlier explaining that. But my answer would be I don't care what secrets the voting machine people keep, as long as my software still works *on my computer* the way I want it do. I don't care about their computers. The clause isn't by any means saying that all secrets must be shared. Really. I may be a nonprogrammer and just a para, but I am on one of the committees and I've heard the explanations from the lawyers on the committee, who are not FSF only, by the way, and I'm quite sure that is what they have explained. So, yes, I do believe you have misunderstood, and if you did understand, I think it would relieve some of your problems with this license.

Why am I discussing it with you at length? Because I care deeply about the GPL. I don't care about the old Free Software freedom vs. Open Source practicality. That argument is over. They both, in my view, have value for different things.

But the reason I love Linux is the freedom that I feel when I use a GNU/Linux operating system, knowing that it isn't calling home behind my back. It isn't telling me what I can or can't do with my own property. I bought my computer. I don't want to share its control with anybody. I wrote [ http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=118 ] about the feeling once long ago:

People are sick of license terms that treat them like criminals, where even when you try hard to obey, you never feel free of that worry...am I allowed to do this? They love GNU/Linux because you can share with your friends and family freely, install it on as many computers as you own at home and at work. Sick of saving proof of purchase certificates under pain of a visit from the IP police and fines when they can't find that piece of paper from 1998. Sick of typing in numbers to prove they bought the software, and having software call home to validate their right to use what they bought, and companies that shove one-sided EULAs down their throats, claiming the right to monitor their hard drive for compliance. Sick of businesses that care about money for themselves first and customers a distant second. GNU/Linux opened people's eyes. It offers an escape from all of that. So they're going to notice. And they're going to care.

But here's, to me, the best thing about GNU/Linux. It's so pleasant to be in control of your own environment. You can design any kind of look you enjoy, pick from a seemingly endless variety of applications, and do whatever you want without fear. It's a feeling you can never have with any other OS.

As you can see, I'm consistent. That is what the Tivo's of the world are endangering, and it is the one thing that made me choose Linux in the first place. It pains me to be on the other side from you, and I can't say yet that GPLv3 is better, in the sense that it is still just a draft. But I like the fact that it is looking out for my interests. Why wouldn't I like that? And yes, I would like you to look out for me as an end user, as opposed to thinking from the corporate standpoint quite so much. They have valid interests too, and there is a balance. But why should the balance always be that the end user has to give up rights? Always? The GPL says that end users have rights. V2 does too. It's what it stands for. The Tivo's are threatening those rights. You may not care, or you may think I should deal with it another way, but that's a rewrite of the meaning of the GPL's terms, Linus. And not even you have that right. That of course is what the corporate guys hate about the GPL, that end users have rights and can't be excluded.

But I'm not a corporation. I'm a human being. And I want control over my own property. GPLv3 is offering me that. Whatever other flaws it may have, it is looking out for my interests as an end user. If you can do that a better way, please do.

03:57 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by Anonymous

July 28 2006

I only wish I had the capability to build my own hardware in the same way that I can write my own software.

Actually, I think that while the last two decades have been kind of a dark time for people building their own hardware, in many ways the future is actually brighter.

FPGA's are getting pretty cheap and capable, and can do a lot of things. Things like rapid prototyping machines are still extremely expensive and not really an option for home users, but hey, that used to be true of laser printers too.

So right now, if you want to build your own hardware, you actually can often do so. The tools for doing FPGA design tend to suck (well, that was true a few years ago, maybe it's improved), and the open source ones at least didn't use to be able to do do any of the device-specific stuff, but if you don't need top performance, and if you can live with what is likely less than wonderful packaging (ie we're not talking iPod Nano kind of cute), I think you're actually better off today than you were, say, ten years ago.

I think a lot of people think that we're entering some kind of dark age of "people can't build their own hardware", remembering how they maybe built their own simple computers (or even just a transistor radio) when they were kids. But I think the signs are actually that we're coming out of the age where discrete logic no longer cut it, and integrated logic wasn't available to normal people.

I personally find it extremely unlikely that we'd be entering an era of closed hardware. Yes, a lot of the very densely packed and highly designed stuff is definitely out of range from a person tinkering in his garage, but look up projects like opencores.org and GNU radio and check out the FPGA's one day, and realize that you really really can do your own hardware.


06:59 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by Anonymous

July 28 2006

Taking the Tivo, I buy a box. I have the RIGHT (as given to me by all the people who wrote the software) to modify that software as I see fit.

Absolutely. Nobody disagrees with that right, and in fact, I'll stand up and fight for that right. In fact, so would hopefully Tivo itself.

But that's not the issue:

Unfortunately, Tivo don't accept that right - they see fit to say "if I modify the software half of the box, the hardware half will stop working".

the above is just not true. Tivo does accept your right to change the software. They even tell you so in their documentation that comes with the box. They took exactly zero rights away from you, and you get to see their modifications, and make your own modifications to them, as per the GPLv2. And the Tivo box doesn't stop working just because you decided to exercise those rights either.

Now, the thing that Tivo doesn't do is let you change the hardware. The hardware (and firmware) they created is designed to just work with the one particular version of software that they shipped. But that in no way means that you can't take the software, modify it to your hearts content, and run it. You just need to run it somewhere else.

And that is fair (if potentially silly and anti-social - but hey, they designed and manufactured it, it's their choice). You may not agree with it, of course, in which case you shouldn't buy their hardware, but they did allow you to change the software any way you wanted, they just said "once you do that, we're not going to run it on the hardware we created".

Btw, that's not so different from what I do either. When I release a Linux kernel, I say "hey, go wild. Make any changes you want, do anything you want within the license". But do you notice something missing? I'm not saying that I'll take your changes and use them myself. And I'm emphatically not letting you write to my git tree. You get the right to keep your copy, and the license effectively means that I can merge back your changes if I want to, but as with Tivo, that's my choice. I often decide that I don't want to have anything at all to do with other peoples changes. They have the right to change their copy of the software, but that doesn't mean that I'll let people put their versions into my source tree.

See? It's really not so different, after all, is it? Both I and Tivo say: "you can change the software all you want", but neither I nor Tivo will automatically take those changes back to "our" side.

In other words, Tivo really limits only their own hardware design. It doesn't limit the software we've all helped create, and it doesn't limit other peoples hw design. There is no bad effect of their choice of hardware design on the software they used.


Is it a good thing to sell limited hardware? Probably not, but it happens all the time. I remember the TI calculators where they sold the identical piece of hardware but with the magic FN button not accessible on the cheaper version. The hardware could do more, but the cheaper version just didn't make it available unless you scraped away some plastic and put your own button there. Was that "evil", or was it just a choice of the hardware manufacturer to segment their market and get people to pay more for the higher-end version, without having to make two different designs (which is probably more expensive than manufacturing the thing in the first place)?

And hey, those kinds of hardware/firmware choices are really no different from Tivo making the decision of making a box that is a really bright neon green, and sounds like a air-raid siren at 3AM every night. It's their choice in hardware design. And it's your choice whether you want to have a neon-green box that keeps you awake each night.

In the end, "neon green and loud" is not really all that different from "only runs one particular software version", now is it?

Would a neon-green and annoyingly loud box make Tivo "evil"? Or just odd and excentric?

I claim the latter. Tivo is odd and eccentric, and thinks that by limiting their hardware, they can sell them better. That's obviously silly of them, but hey, that's an opportunity for others to do better.

But at no point did Tivo actually limit any software that wasn't theirs to limit.


10:13 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by PJ

July 28 2006

In your explaining it, you yourself say it's silly.

It would be silly if they used nonGPL code. Because they are using GPL code to do it, it's a bit worse than silly. And we are saying: Be silly with proprietary code, if you wish, but leave the GPL out of such tricks.

Because the final result for the end user is their Tivo doesn't work, and for all practical purposes in the real world with normal people it means that the promise of the GPL is not fulfilled. We can't have a Tivo and the freedoms of the GPL simultaneously, because most of us don't know how to take the code and run it somewhere else.

In short, our bottom line is we are cheated out of what we expected the GPL to provide and/or we are cheated out of the money we paid Tivo, because we have a Tivo box we can't use because we exercised rights the GPL gives us and now this company, making money from that very same code, has effectually shut down one of the basic freedoms of the GPL. The first principle of the GPL is equality of rights.

We bought it, but now we can't modify and use it. And it's GPL?

No. Not acceptable. Let them use proprietary code they write themselves and pay for if they want to pull tricks like that. Because the bottom line is they've found a loophole in the GPL, which is one reason why there is a new draft, and that loophole is going to be closed. I don't think anyone should wink at deliberate steps taken to water down the GPL.

As I think you have seen here today on Groklaw, a lot of people care deeply about this issue, and most disagree with you. And that isn't going to change. So I hope you seriously consider all the comments today and give more thought to GPLv3, on behalf of the nonprogrammer end users like myself who love your work and would like to stick with the Linux kernel.

Forget about that old argument between the two camps. That is so over. Instead please think more about end users, because we are never anybody's priority in the corporate world, which is one reason we walked away from proprietary software. And who are you writing your software for, if not us?

11:26 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by Anonymous

July 28 2006

Forget about that old argument between the two camps. That is so over. Instead please think more about end users, because we are never anybody's priority in the corporate world, which is one reason we walked away from proprietary software. And who are you writing your software for, if not us?

You really don't get it, do you?

I agree that Tivo's behaviour is silly, but that's the worst it is. Silliness isn't a bad thing, but making rules that disallow it really mostly is.

In contrast, what the FSF tries to ram down our throats with the GPLv3 is much worse. It's saying that in order for others to not be able to use our software in silly ways, we'll have to disallow a whole class of things that are intelligent too. And don't tell me those uses don't exist - I've given several examples over the whole draft discussions, and others have given yet more. Ranging from "protect my hardware" to "voting machine integrity checking" to "medical devices".

When you "fix" a problem by throwing not just that problem but all the good things out too, it's called "throwing out the baby with the bath-water", and it's really really stupid. New mothers really get upset about it, even though clearly all that dirty water really is gone, isn't it?

When you argue that the GPLv3 protects "users", you're arguing from a totally flawed premise. You have absolutely zero actual real argument to back that up with. The fact is, the GPLv2 protects the user more, because it protects the user from the kind of "we know better than you" attitude that the FSF is showing with the GPLv3.

I've given you several examples of why secret keys are good things, and you still don't get it. You still claim that users need to be "protected" from encryption and security. That's insane.

Please, PJ. Those "bad" things that the GPLv3 tries to protect you against are not bad! And this parrotting of the "users' rights" is just that - parrotting. It has absolutely zero basis in reality.

In reality, the only thing that the GPLv3 does is hamstring the uses that a GPLv3 project can be put to. I've given several examples about why you would want to have cryptographic keys that enable some behaviour, and you just ignore them, and others who don't ignore them spout some nonsense about how you can't make a safe voting machine anyway, as if that made any difference at all to whether the technology is valid in that case or a hundred of other valid cases.

The thing is, I actually do know what I'm talking about. The GPLv3 really is throwing out the baby with the bath-water. If you have a mole-problem in your yard, you don't blow up your whole house with fifteen tons of TNT. The same way, if you don't like somebody elses silly behaviour, you don't just disallow a basic technological measure for security!

The GPLv3 "solution" is literally a question of "We don't like that user, and we really want to destroy that schenario, and we don't care at all what else we also destroy in the process". And the sad part is, they'll really only destroy the good uses of private key signing, because the bad users generally don't even care, and just decide to write their own code instead - leaving the "users' rights" right where it started, but now the GPLv3 also destroyed the good guys.

So trust me. In this discussion, I am the one looking out for users' rights, not the FSF.


11:55 PM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by PJ

July 28 2006

Linus, please don't attack people on Groklaw.
It's a violation of our comments policy, and I
don't wish to remove anything your write. But
I have to be fair. We try to avoid meanness here,
and I think that is something you appreciate.

As to the patents thing, it may not be acceptable to
those who love software patents, but those are the
breaks. The GPL is not going to be a softare patents
enabler. Not for money. Not for anything.

I thought you were against software patents yourself.
Did you not send a letter to the EU on that point?

12:49 PM EDT

..and btw, sorry for being irritable

Authored by Anonymous

July 29 2006

I end up being irritable, just because I find the whole GPLv3 discussion extremely frustrating.

I'd love to be a lot more constructive in my criticism, but I've gone through all the license discussions over a decade ago (when it was the old "BSD vs GPL" discussion, with some rabid BSD people claiming the GPL wasn't sustainable), and I find myself seeing no actual upsides to the whole GPLv3 process at all - the license isn't getting any better, and it just ends up bringing up all the same old fights that we have actually been very good at avoiding for the last decade.

As a result, I just get really really frustrated, and would much rather do something productive instead, but at the same time, I feel that the GPLv2 is worth protecting, even if I also feel that standing up for GPLv2 is really not very interesting or fun. I've done it before, and I'd much rather not have had to do it again.

A lot of people seem to think I'm very set against the GPLv3, and maybe my position is more palatable if you think of it as not so much being against GPLv3, but really an ode to how good the GPLv2 has been, and how it has been able to bring people who had very different goals together.

So instead of ragging on the deficiencies of the GPLv3, I'd like to make this last post just point out how great the GPLv2 has been, and point out how it really has been able to have literally tens of thousands of people and hundreds of companies stand behind it.

Even though all the disagreements over various fundamental other issues, the GPLv2 has actually survived really well. People say it has deficiencies, and hey, I have to say that I've always felt it was unnecessarily wordy (it seems to be a general legal disease), but on the other hand, fifteen years of history ends up not just making it the most well-known software license ever, it's also become almost universally accepted at a lot of companies, and it's been upheld in courts around the world.

That's really saying something.


01:12 AM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by PJ

July 29 2006

You still don't understand the legalese, Linus. I'm sorry, but you don't. I've
got to get some sleep now. I'll try to explain it again in the morning.

01:21 AM EDT

Input was not ignored

Authored by PJ

July 29 2006

I found the rationale document [ http://gplv3.fsf.org/rationale ] [PDF] that explains the changes. Read the footnotes please, and you'll see the many, many changes that were made based on input from everyone. So I think we can put that false accusation to bed.

09:16 AM EDT

DRM "Misunderstood"

Authored by PJ

July 29 2006

We can build our own hardware, but the software
on it won't be able to do much of anything, if
Tivoization becomes accepted.

09:37 AM EDT

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