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GPL 3 to Take Hard Line on DRM 574

sebFlyte writes "ZDNet is reporting that Eben Moglen, the FSF's lead lawyer and the co-authour of GPL3, has explained that DRM is 'fundamentally incompatible' with the aims of the FSF and will be given short shrift in the latest version of the free software licence, which bans the use of 'digital restrictions' in GPL3 governed software. In his words: 'I recognise that that's a highly aggressive position, but it's not an aggression which we thought up. It's a defence related to an aggression which was launched against the people whose rights are our primary concern... We don't want our software used in a way which batters the head of the user to please somebody else. Our goal is the protection of users' rights, not movies' rights.'" We discussed the new GPL on Monday.
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GPL 3 to Take Hard Line on DRM

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  • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:09AM (#14509280)
    I wonder if Sony's DRM screw-up and evidence [] that GPL'ed code was in their DRM software played any role in this rather firm approach.
    • Whether this would really help is debatable. Anyone who wants to use a sample of GPL'd code in order to test for the presence of a particular GPL'd application still has various legal fair use and interoperability provisions available to them, regardless of what any FSF lawyers decide to put in the next GPL, so no doubt their own lawyers will find a way to argue that it's legal. Hence I don't see how any provision in any licence is going to stop some DRM-happy gang detecting and trying to block GPL'd rippin

    • by QuaintRealist ( 905302 ) <{quaintrealist} {at} {}> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:19AM (#14509376) Homepage Journal
      Broaden the meaning of this question and there is no doubt - the recent explosion of news events regarding DRM, especially the Sony issue, has hardened the opinions of many of us. Perhaps the use of GPL code did not itself have an effect, but the whole mess certainly did
    • by AdamWeeden ( 678591 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:21AM (#14509398) Homepage
      I would doubt it considering that they had already violated the GPL by not releasing their source. Why would an extra GPL violation matter?
    • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:31AM (#14509488) Homepage Journal
      Oh, I think the Sony DRM roll was just one point along a lengthy path.
      Andy Oram [] had a nice blog entry on the whole topic, in particular, towards the bottom:
      I hope FSF spokesperson Peter Brown is right in saying that we have a great opportunity to explain the benefits of freedom to the public over the coming year. I also sympathize with his claim that one must use the term "freedom" instead of focusing on "open source."
      But opponents of the "open source" terminology always caricature the term and its supporters. Those who pushed for open source have promoted its ethics and community benefits just as free software proponents have. The virtue of "openness" as a general principle is powerful, and has brought people out on the streets in many countries.
      I admit that the words "open source" do not slam the ethical challenge down on the table the way the word "freedom" does. But "open source" has helped free software spread to far more places in business and public organization. Now many more people have something to defend when the free software proponents warn them they're in danger of losing it.
      The GPL is swell. I can agree that abdicating freedom through the use of proprietary software is stupid. Deeming the sale of such "unethical" seems subjective. More generally, fretting about the motives of others seems a collosal distraction. I dunno.
      I wonder if the Free Software and Open Source communities don't have greater effect in combination than either would have had in isolation.
      I also wonder if the chief benefactor of all the theological thumb-wrestling isn't sitting in Redmond.
    • It's about freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Marillion ( 33728 ) <ericbardes@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:35PM (#14510194)
      Bruce Schneier once said, "Making bits uncopyable is like making water not wet." DVD Jon [] pointed out the the purpose of DRM isn't to prevent copying. Its purpose is to place constraints on the decoder.

      RMS started his crusade long before anyone heard of Microsoft when a printer manufacturer wouldn't give him the source code for a printer driver so he could fix the bugs that were preventing it from working on the computer he was using. RMS is about preventing artificial limits on a computers ability to meet the needs of its users.

      Over the years the artificial limits have included the unavailability (hoarding in RMS-speak) of source code and patents. Adding DRM is the next logicial addition.

      • by JoeBuck ( 7947 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:33PM (#14510778) Homepage
        While RMS tells the printer driver story in all his speeches, that's not really what kicked off his crusade.

        When Symbolics, Inc. hired away almost all of his colleagues at the MIT AI Lab and had them make all their extensions to the MIT code proprietary, RMS went on an incredible hacking binge, single-handedly duplicating the work of an entire small company and making all his code free. At his peak, he demonstrated that he could out-code whole teams of world-class experts (as long as we're talking about Lisp coding). The problem is, at the time he hadn't thought of copyleft yet; the Symbolics people could use his code; he could not use their code.

        He needed copyleft to be able to compete with proprietary software developers and have a chance of winning. Same deal with Linux.

  • by shinma ( 106792 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:10AM (#14509286) Homepage
    I'm conflicted, to be honest.

    As a writer, I'd like to be paid for my work. I'd rather not make it easy for people to redistribute my work without compensating me.

    As a consumer, I'd like open access to the things I purchase.

    • As a writer, I'd like to be paid for my work. I'd rather not make it easy for people to redistribute my work without compensating me.

      I'm a writer as well, and a believer in the rights of content owners to be compensated.

      I think it's been proven time and again, though, that DRM is a failed concept that actually hinders consumers more than it thwarts pirates.

      Rights and compensation for copyright owners is an issue. DRM is not the answer.

      • DRM is not a single monolithic entity in my opinion. There are many ways of implementing DRM schemes stupidly, but that doesn't mean that non-stupid DRM systems can't be devise. You say 'DRM is a failed concept that actually hinders consumer' yet, no-one seems to be particularly hindered by the DRM in iTunes, and it thwarts pirates sufficiently to make the publishers comfortable.
        • by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:46AM (#14509634) Homepage
          It's true that iTunes DRM is some of the least obnoxious in terms of the practical restrictions it places on the user...

          BUT you're still entirely at the mercy of Apple. If they go out of business, or get bought out, or become more evil/greedy, then they can impose new restrictions on the use of their products.

          And while iTunes DRM does stop average Joe's from pirating songs, there's software out there to crack it, and it works.
        • by doofusclam ( 528746 ) <> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:48AM (#14509660) Homepage
          no-one seems to be particularly hindered by the DRM in iTunes

          I'd disagree with this. I have a music server that serves Foobar2000 on my windows PC, Amarok on my Linux HTPC and Music Player Daemon/Icecast so I can listen to my CDs at work. Much as i'd love to buy from itunes occasionally their DRM stops me from just dropping the tunes on my Linux server and using them as I see fit.

          The same goes for the audiophile types who spend 30k+ on home music server systems for the same reasons - Apples DRM prohibits them from using their legally bought music as they see fit.

          Back to P2P again then...
        • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@xoxy. n e t> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:53AM (#14509720) Homepage Journal
          The iTunes DRM isn't obnoxious because most users don't have it applied to a large percentage of their music files. I have thousands of songs on my Mac at home, but only a small handful are "protected" ones. Why? Because most songs were ripped directly from CDs. I'm fairly certain that I'm a typical user in this regard.

          But let's imagine for a moment that Apple changed iTunes so that it would only play music that was protected, and it would only rip music from a CD, into the protected format. Suddenly their "unobtrusive" DRM would become a real thorn in everone's collective side.

          The iTMS DRM is only acceptable because it's something that most people run across occasionally -- when they really want a new song and don't mind paying a dollar for it, or they had a bunch of those free-song Pepsi caps. Imagine that implemented across your entire music library and I think you'd have a different opinion.
        • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:08PM (#14510531)
          I quit buying iTunes songs because of their DRM. My car CD player will play a disc full of MP3's just fine. I can fit around 12 hours of music on a CD by burning MP3's to it.

          Apple's DRM only lets me make a Redbook-audio format CD, thus reducing my CD capacity by almost 90%. All becaues of ARTIFICIAL limitations. I could technically burn it to redbook first, then rerip back to MP3, but that hassle simply isn't worth it.

    • If you really appreciate writing, wouldn't you want as many as possible to have access to and read your books, even if the majority didn't pay you? (In contrast to only a few/lesser reading your works, but everyone reading them also paid you.)
      • by maynard ( 3337 ) <j DOT maynard DO ... AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:06PM (#14509860) Journal
        No. He probably wants to get paid for work so he can eat, buy a house, and put his kids through school. Society needs some balance between paying people for their work and some means of fair use in order to freely disseminate scholarly and artistic works without corporate intervention. DRM is an obnoxious "solution" to that problem, primarily because it destroys any sense of balance by relegating power in private corporate hands away from the elected public sphere. But that doesn't making finding some legal balance unnecessary. Writers, programmers, photographers, musicians et all still need to eat. The fallacy is in believing that a technical solution in the private sector to this social and legal problem can be found without interfering with the rights of the citizenry for representation. JMO...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:19AM (#14509375)
      Sounds to me like you should look a distribution method called a "book".

      1) Harder to copy than a web-accessible PDF
      2) Conveniently sold in stores across the country.
      3) Open access by flipping pages.
    • How long after your death do you think your estate should be compensated for your writings?
    • Then get paid the first time you sell your DVD or book, and don't expect the same consumer to buy it again when you release the Bluray or Paperback edition.
    • Sorry, no. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by redelm ( 54142 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:32AM (#14509502) Homepage
      When I write, it is principly to spread my ideas. Monetary compensation is secondary, if present at all. And I very much dislike reading those who write for lucre. It shows. Have you never seen an author "go bad" after early success? Clancey and Rowlings are obvious examples.

    • What about this. (this idea just ocurred to me, it may be totally stupid, but...)

      You may write a book, a darn good book. OK?

      You publish it on your page, in PDF format with mega-ultra-super-l33t DRMcryption. If someone wants to have it then it will cost $xx.yy (you put your price).

      Then, you tell the people this: "My time an effort to write this book was ZZ hours + NN HeadBangs. So after I recover $KKKK.KK I will make the book available without all the hazzles(DRM). " you could even make it free, as you have
    • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:49AM (#14509676) Homepage Journal

      As a writer, I'd like to be paid for my work. I'd rather not make it easy for people to redistribute my work without compensating me.

      Here's another writer's view on the issue []. The whole essay is worth reading, but his second-to-last paragraph sums it up pretty well:

      The future can't be foretold. But, whatever happens, so long as writers are essential to the process of producing fiction -- along with editors, publishers, proofreaders (if you think a computer can proofread, you're nuts) and all the other people whose work is needed for it -- they will get paid. Because they have, as a class if not as individuals, a monopoly on the product. Far easier to figure out new ways of generating income -- as we hope to do with the Baen Free Library -- than to tie ourselves and society as a whole into knots. Which are likely to be Gordian Knots, to boot.

      And Eric Flint and other authors are putting their money where their mouth is: The Baen Free Library [] offers full, unabridged novels for free download, in multiple formats, with no DRM. Once they've gotten you hooked with that, the Baen Webscription [] site offers books for sale, for low prices, also in multiple formats and with no DRM.

      Baen has also put CDs in the backs of several recent hardcover releases, containing other books from the same author, books from other authors that readers may like to try, plus high-resolution copies of cover artwork (without the book title or other text -- just the art). The CDs not only include no DRM, but they also have a statement printed on the label that *encourages* the sharing of the content with friends and family. Baen does ask that you don't distribute the content to the whole world, but has never sued anyone over it. There was one fan of David Weber's Honor Harrington series who put the full text of all of the Harrington books on his web site. Jim Baen found out about it, but rather than threatening a lawsuit, he simply sent the fan an e-mail and explained how the fan's actions were counterproductive and damaging. The fan promptly took the material off-line.

      Baen has also recently started doing something new, too. They're now offering "Advance Reader Copies" of new books. These are unproofed versions of books that are going to be released in coming months. Serious fans buy them both because they don't want to wait for the release and also because there's something cool about reading their favorite authors' work in it's "raw, unpolished" form -- it's basically straight from the author's word processor. The advance copies start out at $15 and decline in steps as the publication date approaches. After release, of course, you can buy the final version for about $4.

      Oh, and everything is in multiple formats, with absolutely no DRM.

      This is innovation in publishing, and this is the sort of thing that can build a sufficiently large and loyal fanbase so that piracy is simply irrelevant.

      According to Jim Baen, the experiment has been extremely successful and profitable. Not only has it increased the sales of their current top authors, it has also allowed them to publish -- and profit from -- lots of their back catalog that would otherwise be impossible to publish.

      I know that I, personally, have spent *way* too much money on Baen books over the last two or three years. If there are others like me, and I'm sure there are, it's no wonder Baen is doing well.

      • by Nahor ( 41537 )
        I know that I, personally, have spent *way* too much money on Baen books over the last two or three years. If there are others like me, and I'm sure there are, it's no wonder Baen is doing well.

        Same here. I first read their free books, then I started to buy. I currently have 160+ books from them, 75 of which were bought. They are nearly my sole source of leisure reading material.

    • I am also confilicted on this matter, or at least I was. I have written my fair share of material which I want people to read and enjoy. I admit that most of the material I have written I have done so in order to draw people to my website so that I can make money off them but that doesn't really change the issue regarding copyright.

      I made the decision to release my work without any form of DRM but a clear copyright notice which grants certain additional rights such as the right to print out a copy of the

  • Linus' thinking (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cronius ( 813431 )
    I bet Linus is grateful he didn't put ".. or later" in the Linux copyright. These kind of political doings seems like exactly the thing he'd be against.
  • Wonderful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KarmaOverDogma ( 681451 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:11AM (#14509299) Homepage Journal
    It's good to see someone with some amount of clout taking a stand against unreasonable constraint of fair use rights. I just hope that this becomes a catalyst in a chain reaction of rebellion against DRM, which manages access in the same way that a jail manages freedom (my apologies to the /.er who I took this .sig from - cant recall his/her name).
  • by amigabill ( 146897 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:13AM (#14509317)
    So it won't be legal for someone to write a media player for someone else's media content that comes with DRM, and release this media player under GPL3? Sure, other licenses can be used for such things, but now such projects cannot benefit from other aspects of GPL3.
    • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:26AM (#14509444)
      Why? Of course, you are allowed to write such a player (although certain laws like the DMCA can be a blocker). What you won't be able to is taking someone's player, encrust it with your DRM and distribute it without providing the key. GPLv3 just closes the loophole where someone can try to claim that the decryption key doesn't belong to the source.

      If you read GPLv2 as intended, this was already the case in that version -- source that can't produce functional binaries is not the real source; GPLv3 just amends the wording so shifty lawyers can't play word games.

      GPLv3 is not perfect and it has many warts, so bad that I would go Linus' way (pure v2) at this moment, but the DRM clause is one of its stronger upsides.
      • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:54AM (#14509725) Homepage Journal
        GPLv3 is not perfect and it has many warts, so bad that I would go Linus' way (pure v2) at this moment, but the DRM clause is one of its stronger upsides.

        The GPLv3 isn't finalized. The Slashdot blurbs haven't really made this clear, but the current version is a draft. It's allowed to have warts. If you have issues with it, comment on them []! The GPLv3 is still a draft. Changes can happen. Get involved. Be heard. [] It's an open process.

      • What several posters have pointed out... the anti-DRM clause covers the souce, not the media files protected. In other words. You CAN use a GPL program for DRM... but... You MUST release the source under the same conditions as the player... [i.e. you can't require extra restrictions on the source of a public program like NDAs] Also, you cannot encrypt the source.. or if you encrypt it [in means of a private user contract] you must include the key to the souce code.

        A misconception so far is that you CAN'

    • You are missing the point of the DRM-clause in the GPL3. DMCA says that you can't circumvent "effective technological protection". GPL3 says that if the code containts GPL'ed code, then it's not "effective technological protection", and circumventing it is therefore legal under the DMCA.

      The idea is to stop companies hitting people with the DMCA. If they use GPL as part of their product that contains DRM, they can't use DMCA as a weapon against the consumers, since circumventing that DRM is allowed.
  • by tdvaughan ( 582870 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:14AM (#14509323) Homepage
    This is assuming Linus even likes the new GPL. As far as I can tell, he's not too sympathetic to RMS's values anyway.
    • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:02PM (#14509813) Homepage Journal

      This is assuming Linus even likes the new GPL. As far as I can tell, he's not too sympathetic to RMS's values anyway.

      It doesn't really matter what Linus thinks, at least not with respect to Linux. Since all of Linux is licensed under GPLv2 _only_ (not GPLv2 or later, as suggested by the FSF), Linux couldn't be relicensed under GPLv3 without the permission of every person who has code in it. Linux contains contributions from thousands of programmers. Locating all of those people (or their heirs) to acquire all the necessary permissions is impractical at best.

  • I for one would be interested to know if this is enforceable in an actual court. The GPL is legally sound (so I have heard from lawyers), but could this provision pass the actual muster of a bought and paid for legal system?
    • How is this even a question. Nothing in copyright law allows you to modify and distribute someone else's code at all. The GPL gives you extra rights, but they are conditional. On what possible basis could someone say that they have a right to take copyrighted code belonging to someone else and modify and redistibute it in a way the copyright holder doesn't approve.
  • Remember folks, a 100% correct hardware/software design could be released under the GPL3 and still be effective. So in a way this is just pushing forward the day such a system is deployed.
  • by SIGBUS ( 8236 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:18AM (#14509365) Homepage
    Aren't file permissions in *ix and Windows systems a form of DRM? Does the GPLv3 distinguish between DRM that you control (file permissions and such), vs. DRM controlled by others (Hollywood's wet dream)?
  • by l33t-gu3lph1t3 ( 567059 ) <arch_angel16@hot ... m minus language> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:18AM (#14509366) Homepage
    I don't get the point... no company in their right mind would write open-source DRM software already, so other than idealistic sentiment, why is this addendum necessary? If the aim is to ensure that no GPL'd code ever makes it into DRM software, isn't this going against the whole notion of the GPL to start with? I thought the free software movement was about increasing the quality of code in the world by cooperation.
    • I thought the free software movement was about increasing the quality of code in the world by cooperation.

      No, no, it's the Free Software Movement, whose guiding principle is that software should be free to roam the Internet, unidsturbed, at home in its natural environment.

      And how does having the GPL actually increase the quality of code? It's about what you can do with the code, not so much how good it is. There's an awful lot of free code out there I wouldn't touch with an 8-ft USB cable.

    • by tpgp ( 48001 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:32AM (#14509499) Homepage
      Here's an interview with Richard Stallman [] discussing Linus's decision to include DRM in the linux kernel.

      And here's a post from linus [] on the kernel mailing list (thread "flame linus to a crisp") talking about DRM in the linux kernel.

      So there you go GPLed DRM.
    • Based on the conference where the GPLv3 was announced, it's more concerned with open source (sorry, "free software") on closed hardware than free software in general. So let's say some product, let's call it "TiVe", uses free software to create a device that acts like a PVR. It's on closed hardware and requires a key that's embedded within that hardware to decrypt the DRMed files it creates.

      So while you have the entire source code that explains how to decrypt the content, you can't get at the 256-bit ke

  • by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:19AM (#14509374) Journal
    I know we all hate DRM but a lot of businesses see this as the future, if the GPL instantly cuts DRM out then the OSS community maybe limiting it's growth in the business world. I understand the GPL is a "play nice" style licence, but when you outright ban use of your software to any coompany using DRM you may well turn a lot of important areas away, so in the end you end up as a small time group instead of people who changed the world.
    • It won't be much of a problem. Many people not happy with the GPL v3 will simply use the last GPL v2 sources for that program/library/etc. and end up forking it. (AFAIK, Linux is only under GPL v2, not under any later license. Linus, and possibly other kernel hackers, will have to grant GPL v3 status for his [their] code)

      We don't see many GPL v1 licenses still around (in fact, I've never seen it), but I think if all this positioning against patents and DRM goes through, we'll see 3 competiting licenses:
      • AFAIK, Linux is only under GPL v2, not under any later license. Linus, and possibly other kernel hackers, will have to grant GPL v3 status for his [their] code

        You vastly underestimate that task. Every kernel contributor, including every person who has modified a file and holds the copyright to said changes would have to grant GPLv3 status, or the GPLv3 version would have to omit them. Many of these authors are unreachable, others are quite literally dead. Rewriting those parts wouldn't be easy because they'
    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:42AM (#14509595) Homepage Journal

      The GPL isn't, actually, a "play nice" style license as such - the entire concept is that it "guarentees freedom," trying to balance the freedoms of both the creator and the user. The Free Software Foundation is about the "right to tinker" (Stallman's words at the GPLv3 release), and that includes the right to tinker with a program's data files.

      Stallman is, essentially, an idealist. He wants to save the world - and he seems to honestly believe that allowing DRM to exist would destroy free software. So he's taken a hard-line stance against DRM in the GPLv3.

      It's sort of explained in the rational behind Section 3 [], which I'm just going to quote outright since it's so short:

      DRM is fundamentally in conflict with the freedoms of users that the GPL is designed to safeguard, but our ability to oppose DRM by means of free software licenses is limited. In section 3 we provide developers with some forms of leverage that they can use against DRM. The first paragraph essentially directs courts to interpret the GPL in light of a policy of discouraging and impeding DRM and other technical restrictions on users' freedoms and illegal invasions of users' privacy. This provides copyright holders and other GPL licensors with means to take action against activities contrary to users' freedom, if governments fail to act.

      The second paragraph of section 3 declares that no GPL'd program is part of an effective technological protection measure, regardless of what the program does. Ill-advised legislation in the United States and other countries has prohibited circumvention of such technological measures. If a covered work is distributed as part of a system for generating or accessing certain data, the effect of this paragraph is to prevent someone from claiming that some other GPL'd program that accesses the same data is an illegal circumvention.

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:20AM (#14509385)
    The planned anti-DRM changes to the GPL are significant because the entertainment industry regularly uses Linux-powered computers in the production process, notably for special effects and animation. In general, movie studios support DRM technology.

    It is a bit ironic that the same companies that don't want you to see their movies for free will use software that can be obtained for free to make their movies.
    I guess the entertainment industry motto is: "Why pay for it if you don't have to?"
  • by Morosoph ( 693565 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:21AM (#14509394) Homepage Journal
    Restrictions on DRM are interesting, for there will be some who will want to extend the penetration of free software with an emaphasis upon programming freedom (of future programmers), and others who support the goal of general freedom.

    Linus may stick with GPL version 2 for the simple reason that he may wish to equip Linux to be able to implement hardware-based DRM. Linus is pragmatic in the straightforward sense: many Linux users will want access to DRMed material... Hence version 2, not version 3.

    Stallman is pragmatic in a more esoteric sense: the GPL version 2 has been increadibly successful. He is pitching the GPL version 3 to maximise freedom, and this blow against DRM will do exactly that. True, free software will have less penetration as a result, but the world will be a freer place for the compromise not being taken.

    From a moral angle, this clause allows programmers to restrict how the fruit of their skills is to be exploited, which is naturally within their right, as long as copyright is recognised in law.

    • I'm not so such that the particular DRM scheme that the GPL prohibits is one that kernel developers would want to support. It's prohibiting selling devices which have GPL firmware but require binaries signed with a private key that isn't included in the source, so that people can't actually install modified versions. The current draft seems to prohibit any systems which use signing and have a public key whose matching private key isn't included, but they've said that they want to fix this issue in later dra
    • From a moral angle, this clause allows programmers to restrict how the fruit of their skills is to be exploited, which is naturally within their right, as long as copyright is recognised in law.

      But copyright is not a natural right, so it is not naturally with programmers rights to restrict how the fruits of their skills may be exploited. Legally they have the right to do so, but morally they do not. In the case of GPL advocates, who already morally condemn the concept of copyright, demanding such rights bor
  • I thought the purpose of the GPL was to ensure that open source works weren't sold in a commercial product without providing the source-code at no added cost. I don't understand how that runs contrary to Digital Rights Management, which is, after all, just another kind of software product. Oh well, I guess you don't have to use the GPL in order to release an open source product if you don't want to.
    • The purpose of the GPL was to prevent lockin not to promote developers.

      The idea was born out of the various incompatible UNIX'es which were all proprietary and therefore able to lock people in. Run a Sparc box? Get your OS from Sun. Don't like the OS? Too bad, you can't change it or replace it, etc...

      The GPL3 being aggressive against DRM is a sane move I think. As a developer I have a right to license my software as "not for use in Japan" if I wanted. I could just as easily say "not for use with softwa
    • The problem is that a number of companies provide the source code, without actually providing you with enough information to use it.

      For example, my TiVo is Linux based, but the hardware has DRM to stop me running binaries I build myself. So even though I have the source, I don't have the freedom to use it.

      It's pretty clear that the intent of the GPL was always to make sure users could change and use the software themselves. So this is only strengthening the original intent, by emphasizing that the "and use"
  • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:23AM (#14509411) Homepage Journal
    If there was one hope for an acceptable DRM solution it was the OS community. Atleast there are still many other good licenses out there that don't ban and entire field of software development.

  • Right to read (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redelm ( 54142 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:24AM (#14509420) Homepage
    I'd be surprised if GPLv3 wasn't strongly against DRM, given one of Stallman's early papers Right-to-Read. []Scarey stuff, and DRM has exactly these aims.

  • but I always hear about the GPL being violated and not about actual punishments.

    there was a recent /. story about firmware, and even that looked just to be "we'll start releasing source code in our next version".

    there need to be punitive fines, not just a constant fight just to make people agree to stop breaking the law next time.
  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:27AM (#14509453) Homepage Journal

    First of all, let me state for the record that I loathe DRM.

    That said, I'm not sure this is a good idea. What they're saying is that there is absolutely, positively no good use for DRM, and there never will be, in free software.

    To me, there's a huge difference between free software and free content, and it seems to me that this stance in GPL3 is essentailly saying that if you want to make the former, you've got to embrace the latter as well. It seems to me that it is forcing developers who would otherwise want to release their software under GPL3 to unnecessarily put restrictions (no DRM) on the content (i.e. the data) that their code may use, and I just can't see that as a good thing. What if Microsoft started programming Word so that you could never save a document that contained profanity? To me, this is pretty much the same thing. It bans the use of digital restrictions on the content? I thought the GPL was about freedom, but now it's imposing some of the very restrictions that it has traditionally railed against!

    I've thought for some time that if there were some way for free software to somehow manage to be able to protect DRM'ed content without compromising the freeness of the software code itself, that organizations such as the **AA would be at least a little more willing to work with the community instead of being so hostile. I think that one of the reasons they're so belligerent right now is because even though the open source community is right about a lot of things, they're also generally insistent that the industries give away their content for free. In other words, the two sides are both extremist points of view, with no one willing to meet somewhere in the middle.

    This article shows that those who wrote the GPL3 are simply digging in on one of the extremist sides, which will undoubtedly force the content industries to dig in yet further and commit further atrocities to harm consumers. The shame of it is that in the end, it is the users who will suffer. The content is owned by the content industry, after all, and if it is not conducive to them to work within the GPL3, they will simply not work within the GPL3, end of story. That means that all GPL3 software users and developers will forever needlessly be relegated to either continuing to operate within the fringe or living without popular content.

    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:50AM (#14509684) Homepage Journal
      That said, I'm not sure this is a good idea. What they're saying is that there is absolutely, positively no good use for DRM, and there never will be, in free software.

      Actually, this came up at the GPLv3 conference. The example used was Tripwire. The general concept was that you'd sign all the binaries on your system, and then set up the kernel to only run signed binaries. If something tried to change a binary, than the signature would fail, and the program wouldn't run.

      It's unclear whether or not that would really be disallowed under the GPLv3, but it was at least brought up.

      It's worth mentioning, because Slashdot hasn't really made it clear, that the GPLv3 is not finalized yet. People who have issues with it are strongly encouraged to post comments on it [] and get involved with the process. The GPLv3 is currently scheduled to be finalized between November 2006 and February 2007 - the current GPLv3 is a draft, and changes can and most likely will be made to it.

    • GPL <= 2 has a critical flaw at the top, in that you can recompile the code from source, but if you can never actually run that code then having the source is completely moot. So then the counter-attack to GPL is to restrict the hardward to only booting from authorized codes. Then you restrict the system to only run authorized codes; this could come first as a "warning: running unsigned code", then require admin privileges, and then just not run. Signing could be a quick, free, automatic online proces
  • DRM based on trust? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Arthur B. ( 806360 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:30AM (#14509485)
    since every drm schemed is eventually going to be hacked, and therefore the protection removed, not only for the ubergeeks but for everyone through file sharing systems. Since current drm imply shady business with the OS (Sony rootkit) and rights restriction (copying music between all the devices you own etc), since DRM has been critized to assume the consumers where outlaws. Then why not make a jump. I'd suggest a DRM system based on a simple RDF file indicating what the user has the right to do with the file... this file is attached to the media content. Sure, it'll be extremely easy to crack, so easy it won't even be fun. Ethic media players would read the file and tell you, this is the 10th time you've read this file. I can't read it anymore you need to buy another lease, or buy the song entirely etc.... Maybe I'm just a dreamer... after all how many sharewares, most of whom where not based on restrictions, just on nag screens after a certain period, where registered? Well maybe it's different for music, I don't know... But after all, the current DRM situation is the same with a little more obfuscation that's it... so why not?
  • The basis of rights (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dada21 ( 163177 ) <> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:38AM (#14509558) Homepage Journal
    I have the strong opinion that the word "rights" is being abused significantly by pretty much everyone inside and outside of industry. Rights to education, rights to health care, rights to fair use.

    I'm not sure that the word "rights" should be used anymore, the meaning is lost.

    To me, rights are something every person is born with -- inherent, God-given, natural, you call it what you want. I believe we are born as human, we have these rights -- American, Afghani, Zimbabwian. I believe the initial U.S. Constitution as very good about naming SOME of the rights that we're born with (no government can tell us what to say, which religion we practice if any, they can not search our body or our house without very specific details laid out to a public witness, they can't quarter troops in our homes, they can't make us testify against ourselves, etc, etc). These rights are the people's, all the people's, and they're not to be abridged by any government. These rights are also ours on our property to modify in respect to others (you have none of these freedoms when you are on my land).

    The entire copyright issue is very complex for most people -- many loopholes and priviledges given to some but not others. I don't like unequal rules when they are put in the law. I especially don't like unequal rules that no one can understand with a lawyer. As some know here (and I really don't want to debate it on this forum), I am against copyright in every form -- I believe that once you have a physical item in your hands, you can do with that physical item what you want -- copy it, modify it, call it your own. The physical item is "protected" by inherent property rights as long as the original owner keeps it with him. It is like gold or diamonds. The minute they sell or barter away the physical item, it is now the new owner's item to do with as they please. PHYSICAL property can be protected, but intellectual property is thought, it is action, it is processing, updating and recreating.

    Now we get to fair use. First, we the People give government the ability to lay down a monopoly rental to another person or corporation -- copyright. We let them control how we use a specific item, who we use it with, and what we can and can't do. This is a law, with force being used if we ignore it. Then we give "the People" the right to work around this rented monopoly, given some very peculiar reasoning. Copyright was intended to be useful for 7 years (which can be doubled) in order to further the arts -- it was not there to necessarily protect a profit or a demand complete control forever.

    This is my big problem with "rights" today -- we can give them up and have to walk a very complicated path, but we also get some parts back in order to try to fix that complicated path but it just ends up being even more complicated.

    If you won't agree with me that freedom is better than tyranny, how about you folks who love big government mandate a state-paid lawyer to follow around anyone who wants one, so we can live without the fear of jail or fines?
    • by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:54AM (#14509722)
      You say that human rights are something we are born with. Something inherent, inalienable, natural, perhaps even God-given.

      Something we have simply by right of being alive is something we will hold cheaply and assume will always be there, like the air we breathe.

      Our rights are not God-given or inherent to ourselves. Nor are they granted to us by the benevolence of our rulers. Our rights were taken from our rulers, by force. Among all our ancestors were rebels and traitors, terrorists and pirates, mutineers and heretics and unionists and blackguards and revolutionaries and blasphemers and barbarians, and it is their struggle that we have to thank for the freedom we enjoy today. They fought against kings and barons, against tycoons and industrialists, against priests and popes, and they set themselves and their descendants free.

      When you give up a freedom to the state, or to the establishment, or to the company, you aren't giving up something that is yours to give away that you've had all your life and which you got for nothing. You're giving up something bought by the blood of countless rebels over the centuries. You're betraying the sacrifices made by your ancestors.

      A right we think is inalienable we will neglect and soon lose. A right we know was won by our ancestors through hardship and struggle we will defend forcefully.

    • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:12PM (#14509937)
      To me, rights are something every person is born with -- inherent, God-given, natural, you call it what you want.

      The Creator doesn't give anybody any rights. They can't be inalienable because they don't exist. Does the lamb have a right not to be eaten by the lion? The caveman by the bear? The woolly mammoth not to be slain by the caveman? Nope. Quite the contrary. The setup in the natural world is carefully designed or naturally evolved (take your pick) to confer benefit to the strong, the clever, and the ruthless. Everywhere there is competition for scarce resources.

      If the whale is to have a right not to be processed by man for food and other products, it can only be because man chooses to confer and protect this right. No deity has ever done so.

      The baby born with a heart defect has no right to life conferred by nature or Creator. Without man's interest and intervention, it will die quickly.

      If man is to enjoy rights, it can only be because man promulgates and protects these rights.

      Knowledge "wants" to be free in a metaphysical sense, but it's not going to happen without the efforts of men to undo the efforts of other men to chain knowledge.
  • Easy Way Out (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _Hiro_ ( 151911 ) <hiromasaki&gmail,com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:40AM (#14509575) Homepage Journal
    For those who aren't fond of the changes to the GPL from v.2 to v.3, why not just vet your complaints about v.3 with a structured rebuttal, and then go on developing v.2 software until it's fixed or something better comes along?

    Also, there are plenty of "Open-Source" Licences. (MPL, LGPL, BSD, CopyCat, etc.) Is there something the GPL v.3 does that the others (GPL v.2 included) don't do?
  • by QunaLop ( 861366 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:40AM (#14509579) cannot have drm in oss, it just is not possible. if your software can render it, which involves processing the drm (decrypt, etc) then you can remove the drm pretty much just as easily and since the rendering code is there for everyone to see, the is trivial to adjust the app to play to disk.
  • Feels overbroad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by augustz ( 18082 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:41AM (#14509591) Homepage
    I'm as much against many of the DRM schemes (and more importantly the way they actually get carried out) as the next person.

    That said, I think this is a mistake.

    Under GPLv3 can I crate a xen node0 and tie it with hardware DRM so only that hypervisor boots? That's the path to a secure node0?
    Could I use DRM type technology to avoid leaking client data I'm required to collect at my place of business?

    What people forget is that DRM technology can be used in many ways. To destroy privacy and restrict rights, or to insure privacy and protect rights.

    I can think of lots of areas (patents) that the GPL could have been improved / touched-up other than taking the hard DRM line.
  • by stinerman ( 812158 ) <nathan DOT stine AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:44AM (#14509614) Homepage
    I'm reading a bit too much along the lines of "ZOMG no 1 will use teh softwares with GPL3" or "there's politics in my software!".

    Here's the dish:

    You don't like GPL v3? Don't use it. GPL v2 will still exist. In fact, I'm betting Linux (the kernel) won't ever be available under the GPL v3. I would be happy to use the new GPL since I enjoy such a license. If you don't like the new stuff added in, feel free to use GPL v2 software. More licenses == more choices. I don't see the problem here. BSD and GPL currently co-exist just fine. I'm sure BSD, GPL v2, and GPL v3 will do just the same.
  • by jdoeii ( 468503 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:48AM (#14509670)

    The proposed restriction would affect software for the content encryption only, i.e. the server side of the DRM.

    Suppose, someone made a GPL 2 compliant DRMed book reader. The reader comes with the source, so there is no possibility of security through obscurity, the source can be modified and recompiled. In order to read the DRMed content it must be decripted. That means a secret key has to be given to the user, and passed to the reader. The source for the reader is available and can be modified to save the key or the decrypted copy. Consequently, GPL2 is sufficient to make client-side DRM ineffective.

    Client-side DRM software, at least in its present form, depends on the closed source software, on obscurity. GPL3 restriction would only affect content creation, the encryption part of the DRM.

    Hardware-assisted DRM may be different, but I can't see it right now.

  • Restricting Use? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wannabe Code Monkey ( 638617 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:06PM (#14509865)

    I absolutely hate DRM and believe that the DMCA should be repealed. I also believe there should be laws stating that no one should be able to place digital locks on material that a user has certain rights to which the locks curtail.

    However, I really don't know about this change in the GPL. I thought one of the things the GPL wanted to avoid were the extra clauses about what you could and couldn't use the software for. I seem to remember people who would write "free" software with the license almost identical to the GPL but then add things like "No one in the US Military is allowed to use this software." I was under the impression that people who truly wanted Free and Open Source Software to prevail were against these kinds of restrictions...

    • Re:Restricting Use? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by StrawberryFrog ( 67065 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:27PM (#14510727) Homepage Journal
      I thought one of the things the GPL wanted to avoid were the extra clauses about what you could and couldn't use the software for.

      I see your point, but it's also an important feature of the GPL that you cannot used GPL'd software to lock a customer into a single vendor's product (since you must supply the source and allow forks). What else is DRM except lock-in?
  • by oneandoneis2 ( 777721 ) * on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:15PM (#14509974) Homepage

    Some of the comments are nonsense like applying this to file permissions. So before you flame the decision, read it. Excerpt from the GPL:

    As a free software license, this License intrinsically disfavors technical attempts to restrict users' freedom to copy, modify, and share copyrighted works. Each of its provisions shall be interpreted in light of this specific declaration of the licensor's intent. Regardless of any other provision of this License, no permission is given to distribute covered works that illegally invade users' privacy, nor for modes of distribution that deny users that run covered works the full exercise of the legal rights granted by this License.

    In other words: This applies only to DRM that attempts to block copying of copyright material. Not Trusted Computing, not file permissions, not anything else.


  • by JackDW ( 904211 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:30PM (#14510143) Homepage
    Perhaps you don't like RMS's clearly political meddling here - what is he doing, trying to control what the GPL is all about, and making it oppose DRM?

    Well, it's not really a change. In spirit, the GPL has always opposed DRM. DRM, like proprietary software, takes away the control and freedom of choice that an end user should enjoy, and gives it to someone else. The GPL has always stood against the effects of proprietary software, on behalf of programmers and expert users. Now, it stands against those effects on behalf of every computer user too. Companies have an ethical choice when it comes to DRM, and I do hope that the actions of the FSF will serve to highlight this.

  • by TekGoNos ( 748138 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @01:41PM (#14510870) Journal
    While I'm against the concrete form choosen in version 3, DRM is a real problem for the GPL, as the DMCA goes against the very spirit of the GPL.

    I could use GPLed software and create a DRM program with it. Normally, everybody can modify it, right?

    Well, perhaps not : as it is a protection measure, I can try to sue everybody that does modify it under the DMCA, claiming that any modification to my software lessens the protection, and therefor infringes the DMCA (IANAL, so I'm not sure if this could succeed). So, by declaring my software to be a DRM, I could basicly prevent anybody from modifying it.

    Worse, not only I, but if it is a general purpose DRM system, any author of content protected by this DRM could sue you if you modify the software.

    The DMCA creates a huge mess : normally illegal actions done with software (even if it is modified GPL-software) are, of course, illegal. But with the DMCA, modifying software itself can be illegal, even if no other illegal act is commited (exemple : excercising fair use rights).

    So, the GPL would like to say that modifying (and using) GPLed software is never illegal in itself, only if another illegal act is commited.

    Why I'm against the form choosen in the GPLv3 : it only adresses the DMCA in it's current form (and even then, I'm not sure, if it will stand up in court), but with a new law, modifying GPLed software can become illegal again. And the licence will always be behind the law.
  • by 10Ghz ( 453478 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:22PM (#14511291)
    I think the idea of the DRM-clause is as follows: If someone uses GPL'ed code in DRM'ed product, they are agreeing that the DRM on their product is not a "strong technological protection". What does that mean? It means that they can't use DMCA to sue users who circumvent the DRM. DMCA makes it illegal to circumvent "strong technological protection". If they use GPL'ed code, they are saying that their DRM is not strong, and therefore circumventing that DRM is not against the DMCA.

    It's brilliant, really.
  • by Second_Derivative ( 257815 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @02:23PM (#14511298)
    There are those who would utterly abolish copyright. To be honest I'm almost in agreement with them. The balance has swung over to absolutely ridiculous extremes.

    * Music: Music has existed since the dawn of civilisation. Those who enjoy music enough will continue to produce it whether or not people will pay them handsomely for their efforts. If they no longer make more money in a day than a surgeon in the emergency room makes in a whole year, well, somehow I find it hard to feel sorry for them.

    * Software: Some software needs can be met with open source software. More specialist "unsexy" software will again continue to be needed. Whoever needs it enough can enter into a contract with someone to develop it, under as strict a set of safety standards as is necessary for things like aircraft and nuclear reactors if needs be. Isn't the vast majority of all software written for internal use? If this software gives you a critical edge over a competitor it can be protected as a trade secret instead.

    * Books: Same as music, even moreso. Anyone with a word processor can potentially be an author, although if you look at the volume of utter drivel on say it might become a bit hard to sort the wheat from the chaff for a while. Again, better to have geniunely good material float to the top than have the usual pop crap pushed down everyone's throats because it's a lazy man's substitute for taste.

    * News: Tricky. "the blogosphere" these days is mostly about juvenile navelgazing, and I personally would certainly not rely on it. Still, if News Corp et all fell into the dust, if something big caught on fire I imagine many people would be giving consistent reports of the fact within minutes online, as opposed to front page articles of who's fucking who in the celebrity world as we usually have (although we wouldn't see quite so many celebrities in the first place; see above).

    * Cinema: There are lower barriers to entry these days thanks to powerful commonplace audio/video hardware and the obscene computing power of a medium-sized pile of desktop PC's these days. Still, this could be tricky. You would need some sort of wealthy societies to bankroll massive cinematic productions. You wouldn't get too many projects like Lord of the Rings springing up because a bunch of people down the pub with 1000 of their highly qualified mates decided it might be fun to set up tons of production equipment and render farms down in New Zealand for a laugh...

    On balance though I'm having trouble seeing the benefit of copyright other than the fact that it makes a small group of people with an arguably marginal contribution to society disproportionately rich. Considering the recent abuses of the copyright lobby (DMCA and such) we do seem to be making some ridiculous "tradeoffs" as of late.
  • by briancnorton ( 586947 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @06:05PM (#14513539) Homepage
    This is stupid. This impulsive, reactionary move will do nothing but cripple it's usage in any commercial application. Forget about tivo and the millions of titles that have CD-ROM protection through safedisc or macrovision, but this cuts out any possible commercial media delivery to GPL'd software. No iTunes, no DVDs, HD-DVDs, or any of the new wave of on-demand or streaming media. Great idea FSF, why don't you do an encore of punching yourself in the nuts?
  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @07:35PM (#14514298)
    Basicly, they are saying in GPL v3 that if you release code under GPL v3, you cannot sue someone else for looking at your code and using either the code or the information to read, write, encode, decode, encrypt, decrypt or otherwise work with the data files your code works with.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.