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GNU is Not Unix Linux

SFC Expands GPL Compliance Efforts To Samba, Linux, and Other Projects 104

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the defending-free-software dept.
An anonymous reader tipped us to news that the Software Freedom Conservancy is expanding its GPL compliance efforts. Quoting Bradley Kuhn: "This new program is an outgrowth of the debate that happened over the last few months regarding Conservancy's GPL compliance efforts. Specifically, I noticed that, buried in the FUD over the last four months regarding GPL compliance, there was one key criticism that was valid and couldn't be ignored: Linux copyright holders should be involved in compliance actions on embedded systems. Linux is a central component of such work, and the BusyBox developers agreed wholeheartedly that having some Linux developers involved with compliance would be very helpful. Conservancy has addressed this issue by building a broad coalition of copyright holders in many different projects who seek to work on compliance with Conservancy, including not just Linux and BusyBox, but other projects as well." The anonymous reader adds: "This news was also discussed in the latest episode of the Free as in Freedom Oggcast." Update: 05/30 14:20 GMT by U L: It may not be entirely clear, but several Linux developers have assigned copyright so that the Conservancy can pursue violations for them.
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SFC Expands GPL Compliance Efforts To Samba, Linux, and Other Projects

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  • Must be involved.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gr8_phk (621180) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @09:40AM (#40154523)

    Linux copyright holders should be involved in compliance actions on embedded systems.

    I believe they MUST be involved. As a 3rd party SFLC really has no say ( IIRC the legal term is "standing".). IANAL but If someone strips the GPL from some code and puts that code in their product, the copyright holders are the only one who can legitimately make a complaint. The users may notice, but their rights to source code are defined in the GPL - which is absent in such a case.

    • I realize this is way off-topic, but for the longest time I had no idea what "IANAL" meant. I couldn't help but interpret it as a pornographic version of the seminal work by Isaac Asimov.

      For those who may not know, "IANAL" means "I am not a lawyer". Don't make the "I, Anal" mistake I did.

      TMYK

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        You could have just googled; that's what I do when I run across an unfamiliar acronym. And did you notice the ironic play on words, I Anal? Needing to point out that one is not a lawyer seems pretty anal to me.

      • by unixisc (2429386)
        And TMYK is?
  • ... not expecting GPL3 compliance from software that's only GPL2?
    • More FUD! I really do not see what Linus's problem is with the GPL3. What it does is add formal protection for 2 sneaky ways to violate the spirit of the GPL that GPL2 lacks. It is also *more* permissive, allowing more ways to comply with the requirements.

      The first is "Tivoization". Vendors should not hardwire checks to prevent "unapproved" software from being run. Makes no difference whether these checks are done in the software or hardware. Such a check really is software no matter that it's been

      • Re:GPL2 vs GPL3 (Score:4, Informative)

        by vlm (69642) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:55AM (#40155167)

        More FUD! I really do not see what Linus's problem is with the GPL3. What it does is ...

        ... require eighty bazillion historical authors (Linus didn't write every line of code) unfortunately including, I believe, the estate of some dead people and the current IP owners of some dead companies, to relicense their past work as GPL3 or have someone do a psuedo-cleanroom reimplementation of the GPL2 code.

        Yes, the GPL3 is better than the GPL2, a little. But linux wasn't written by one dude last week.

        Linus could, if he so desired, declare he will no longer accept GPL2 patches or code, and in probably just 10 or 20 years there would be no remaining GPL2 code in the kernel, probably. Aside from whatever personal views Linus has about the GPL3, re licensing linux just isn't going to happen, at least not any time soon.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Linus could, if he so desired, declare he will no longer accept GPL2 patches or code, and in probably just 10 or 20 years there would be no remaining GPL2 code in the kernel, probably. Aside from whatever personal views Linus has about the GPL3, re licensing linux just isn't going to happen, at least not any time soon.

          You do know it's against the GPL to combine GPLv2-only with GPLv3-only code, right? Even the FSF says so [gnu.org]. You can combine GPLv2+ with GPLv3 no issues, but using v3 code will violate the licens

          • Heck, even an edict came down along the lines of "No GPLv3 software will be approved - don't even try".

            That's great for me to hear. You don't sound like the kind of company that has much of value to contribute. We just got permission to contribute back code to the external GPLv3 project we use. This is going to be another story like 10 years ago. Back then lots of companies were banning GPL, or even all open source software. The ones that could use (for example Apple, Google, IBM and Facebook) it had an edge which was crucial in many of them pulling ahead.

            If what you say is true, GPLv3 becomes the dif

      • So are you going to rewrite the countless amount of code from the authors who can't be contacted or who don't want their code relicensed?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        He probably wants Tivo and other vendors to use the Linux kernel over a BSD kernel. If you GPLv3 downgrade the Linux kernel, it will make it unsuitable for use in commercial products like the Tivo. Do you really think that companies will magically overnight want to comply with the GPLv3 terms?

        If the Linux kernel gets downgraded, we will see one of several things:

        1. Adoption of another OS kernel under a more permissive license.
        2. A fork of the Linux kernel
        3. Vendors using old versions of the kernel as long

        • by Anonymous Coward

          If you GPLv3 downgrade the Linux kernel, it will make it unsuitable for use in commercial products like the Tivo.

          Why? No one has ever explained to me just why a company wants to Tivoize Linux?
          How does keeping me from changing the code on a device I've purchased help the manufacturer's bottom line?

          • by unixisc (2429386)
            For something like a set top box, the manufacturer is fully justified in locking it so that customers cannot accidentally or deliberately alter the contents, and thereby affect the T&C of the EULA. To answer most of the questions above, had Linux been GPL3, TiVo and any other vendors making similar boxes would have had to look at using something else - maybe QNX, Minix, NetBSD or whatever other embedded OS there might be out there.
            • For something like a set top box, the manufacturer is fully justified in locking it so that customers cannot .....

              How the hell have we got to this distopian nightmare. These are the people who bought something from you. They own the set top box. They are in the privacy of their own homes. What they do with their own stuff in their own homes is none of your bloody business and you are certainly not "fully justified" in setting up systems to interfere with it. People are fully justified in taking serious action against people who do that kind of stuff.

              • by unixisc (2429386)
                As zzatz pointed out below, content owners want control over delivery, and are okay with a recording being watched, but not distributed to other media. Locking down the system is a part of how it is achieved. If TiVo didn't control that part, they can say goodbye to the chances of any content being delivered to those boxes via the receiver, amd the whole purpose of making those boxes in the first place is defeated. Unlike the FSF, TiVo is in a business, not a cult.
              • by exomondo (1725132)

                People are fully justified in taking serious action against people who do that kind of stuff.

                Like not buying their products, problem solved.

          • by zzatz (965857)

            Why? No one has ever explained to me just why a company wants to Tivoize Linux?
            How does keeping me from changing the code on a device I've purchased help the manufacturer's bottom line?

            You need to look at entire ecosystem, not just the box maker. People don't buy hardware because they admire the hardware, they buy hardware to accomplish a task. For Tivo and others, that task is delivering content. The content providers require control over delivery; they want you to be able to watch a recording but not transfer the recording. That requires locked-down systems. Which sells more? Open systems that cannot record HBO, or locked systems that can?

            I think DRM is a mistake, but I don't rule Holly

            • by Microlith (54737)

              As long as Hollywood wants DRM, the ability to play Hollywood content is more important than GPLv3 licensing.

              Spoken like a true apologist. The correct answer is fuck Hollywood and their customer-hating ways.

              • by kthreadd (1558445)

                So, don't buy their products then. That's the best way to make companies go out of business.

                I assume you have the same kind of thoughts about cars, airplanes and microwave ovens.

                • by Microlith (54737)

                  I try to avoid it as much as possible. It's quite easy if you try.

                  I assume you have the same kind of thoughts about cars, airplanes and microwave ovens.

                  Care to go into detail, or are you trying to draw stupid parallels and hoping no one notices?

                  • by kthreadd (1558445)

                    I assume you have the same kind of thoughts about cars, airplanes and microwave ovens.

                    Care to go into detail, or are you trying to draw stupid parallels and hoping no one notices?

                    No, it was a serious question. Sorry if it didn't come out that way.

                    What I meant was. We have all kinds of devices around us that uses micro computers. Sometimes there are reasons why the companies making those kind of things don't want people to mess them up by changing the code running on them. In the case of Hollywood the reason (at least for now) is DRM, like it or not. Other kinds of businesses may have other reasons. If the Tivo's of this world should make it possible to alter the programs running on

              • by zzatz (965857)

                I agree that the correct answer is "Fuck Hollywood". I don't have a Tivo, I built a MythTV box that records free over-the-air broadcasts. I haven't been to a movie or had cable for years. Hollywood doesn't get my money.

                So my question for you is, why do you shoot the messenger? You asked a question, I answered it, and you call me an apologist. Fuck you. I told you that I think DRM is a mistake. Don't you understand the difference between an explanation and a justification? I find that I can make better argum

          • No one has ever explained to me just why a company wants to Tivoize Linux?

            The explanation B2B free software vendors gave to the FSF was apparently good enough that the FSF restricted the anti-tivoization provisions of the GPLv3, in its final form, to what amounts to consumer products.

            B2C vendors weren't as concerned, as long as the license explicitly allowed two things (that it does): termination of any support responsibility and disconnection of modified-software devices from networks when the network owne

      • by Kjella (173770)

        I really do not see what Linus's problem is with the GPL3.

        Linus is primarily a developer, he wants to see the improvements Tivo has done, study them and if they're good enough roll them back into his own project. The GPLv2 fulfills his requirements and then he primarily wants it used - if it's used in locked down tivos, cell phones, tablets, set top boxes, embedded boxes or other appliances that's not a big concern for him, but if all those backed out plus a wave of fud it'd hurt his project. The FSFs agenda of user-modifiable software is not his agenda, he just w

      • I really do not see what Linus's problem is with the GPL3.

        I don't know about Linus, but my problems include (but are not limited to) the fact that it restricts available software functionality and imposes restrictions on the use (without distribution) of software, contrary to the whole point of free software, and that it creates difference classes of users, with different rules that apply when targetting them.

        The first is "Tivoization". Vendors should not hardwire checks to prevent "unapproved" software fro

        • I've never read about the FSF making any distinctions b/w business and consumer users. All they care about is the liberation of software. Do you have any links on either fsf.org or gnu.org where such a distinction is spelt out?
          • I've never read about the FSF making any distinctions b/w business and consumer users

            See the GPLv3, Sec. 6. Note, there, that the "anti-tivoization" provisions only apply to what the GPLv3 calls "User Products", which are, essentially, what would in normal parlance be consumer products as opposed to business products.

            All they care about is the liberation of software.

            That's what the advertisements say, but that's not what the license says. Which is the problem with the license.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          Tivo goes and uses Linux, and sticks the GPL in the back of their end user manual. Linux and GPL are now noticed by basic everyday consumers. Many developers and technical oriented people see this and think "wow, it's great that free software is getting wide exposure, hurrah for Tivo. But many political activist oriented people are thinking "oh no, commercial use is bad, it's not homebrew hardware, must create a new license to prevent this or else we'll be seen as sell outs." The conflict between GPL as

      • The first is "Tivoization". Vendors should not hardwire checks to prevent "unapproved" software from being run. Makes no difference whether these checks are done in the software or hardware. Such a check really is software no matter that it's been hardwired in. With a scheme like that in place, you can't fix so much as a typo let alone a simple bug. Linus is apparently okay with Tivoization.

        I believe hardware falls outside the purview of the GPL. All I'm concerned with is that the source code remains availa

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        The first is "Tivoization". Vendors should not hardwire checks to prevent "unapproved" software from being run. Makes no difference whether these checks are done in the software or hardware. Such a check really is software no matter that it's been hardwired in. With a scheme like that in place, you can't fix so much as a typo let alone a simple bug. Linus is apparently okay with Tivoization.

        Of course, Linus cares about the Linux kernel code, not imposing any kinds of restrictions on the other software that you run or imposing any kind of restrictions on the hardware that you run the software on, just the Linux kernel code. He outlines it pretty clearly here [informationweek.com], a choice quote: "-- I'm against "you cannot do xyz with the code.""

        Vendors should not hardwire checks to prevent "unapproved" software from being run.

        Actually you should not buy vendor-locked hardware. Obviously alternatives exist and in the case of TiVo you even have the FOSS software modifications they made so you can

  • by Dot.Com.CEO (624226) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @09:55AM (#40154641)
    Oggcast is a damn stupid word. Please kill it with fire.
    • by Nursie (632944)

      That's what I thought when 'podcast' happened.

      Nobody killed it :(

    • by DOXEBf (2651219)
      At least "oggcast" is a technically accurate neologism. There is nothing "pod" about an Ogg Vorbis broadcast that I play on my Sansa Clip.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Dust off and blog it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
  • The question is whether most Linux developers really care that much. Linux is big and strong enough, that a modified version in a specific product is unlikely to have anything important Linux really needs. Most likely it will be modifications to work with some highly specific hardware.

    The purchasers of the hardware might be interested in the source code if they want to hack it, but aside from that, it probably doesn't make a lot of difference to developers, who just want to hack code.
    • by jbolden (176878)

      Linux is big and strong enough, that a modified version in a specific product is unlikely to have anything important Linux really needs.

      Of course it could. Lots if not most things inside the Linux kernel itself come from a small group or even an individual. With other software products that are part of the Linux eco system this is even more common. For example twenty years ago I was using Scientific Word for Windows which allowed me to do calculations (like Maple) and TeX. That's far more advanced

  • by jonwil (467024) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:21AM (#40154869)

    IMO this is a good thing, especially if it means greater pressure on the likes of HTC and other Android vendors to be more proactive and release the kernel source for their devices when the devices and binaries are released instead of taking months and repeated prodding by the copyright holder to get code out there.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Inconsistent is the developer who first licenses his software under a copyleft license and then does not demand compliance to the terms involved.

    Too many people think copyleft is public domain. Or at least pretend to do so. Human greed knows no boundaries...

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