Wednesday, November 22, 2006
So will planes fall from the sky when GPLv3 is released and all software licensed ‘version 2 or later’ finally ticks over into GPLv3 mode? Is GPLv3 part of Richard Stallman's plan to launch a “dictatorship of the programmers”? This housemate thinks not. I was thrust into the world of GPLv3 as part of research for an upcoming symposium (see details below) and it became clear that GPLv3 is the subject of heated debate.
There are a few GPL ‘hot issues’ and DRM is one of the more burning of said issues (if you don’t believe me just look at how red it is on the GPL comments page). What is all the fuss about? The general idea is that DRM is being used to ‘evade’ rights/‘freedoms’ provided under the GPL and this practice is not acceptable. The FSF is sending the message that technical evasion of the GPL is not ok. The message is loud and clear but some have queried if such an endeavour is desirable or even possible. The thing is, not all DRM is necessarily bad (consider the use of DRM for medical equipment or security purposes). Some Kernal developers have questioned if a software license is a sensible place to put all these anti-DRM provisions and suggest that these provisions are included for the service of political ends.
What do I think? I understand that the FSF is concerned about protecting the core freedoms in the GPL however I not sure if protection should be at any cost. It is important to bear in mind that inserting Anti-DRM provisions to protect particular freedoms will always be at the cost of other freedoms. That being said I disagree with people who suggest that GPLv3 “has the potential to inflict massive collateral damage upon our entire ecosystem and jeopardise the very utility and survival of Open Source.”
Don’t forget to register to attend GPLv3 and