Long Live the License Flamewar
Posted:It's been far too long since I've lobbed a shell in the direction of a good "discussion" on open source licensing, so thanks whurley. I haven't stood on my soapbox/posted here in a while either, what better opportunity to go off on why I don't think the GPLv3 does anything worthwhile and what I think is wrong with nearly every GPLv3 vs. GPLv2 discussion.
The non-problem that v3 tackles is "tivoization". The concept here is that Tivo takes linux, customizes it, puts it on their set top boxes, makes their customizations available, and locks down the set top boxes you can't change the software running on them. To the first reason at the link I gave, I say "so what". Tivo makes a device that phones home and you can't turn it off. There is no issue modifying the software, as they correctly point out, but you can't make the hardware operate with that modification. I don't think preventing people from repurposing hardware is something that should be pursued in a software license.
They go on to further justify this with a doomsday scenario. The reason it seems far fetched is because it is. The programmable computer is simply not going to disappear. Special purpose computers are being locked down, but that is nothing new. I have a pile of electronics in my home that I can't program and I don't think one of them running Linux should make that any different.
I'll also note that they don't seem to look at a doomsday scenario for the so-called ASP loophole.
The other feature GPLv3 offers that I don't see much value in is the patent provisions. One more weapon in a patent arms race. While I appreciate that things like patent pledges have worked largely as a deterrent to widespread software patent lawsuits, so far, the GPLv3 is applying a small bit of salve to a sore while doing nothing for the disease.
Now I'm going to talk about the argument itself. If we look through the comments
to the post that I originally linked we can sum them up pretty easily.
- The respectful disagreement - These are good, I'm a bit hard on GPLv3 proponents when my real problem is with Free Software Zealots.
- You don't understand the problem - they don't understand that it's even possible to have a different opinion, or they just feel as though your opinion doesn't matter
- Trust me, there is a problem or that loss of freedom is for your own good - Gee, thanks. I just needed to be reminded that RMS is "Far-sighted" and that my opinion still doesn't matter
- Just go with it, the goals are the same, this is just an update - Obviously some people chose the GPLv2 thinking Tivo was fine. A purported Bruce Perens gave this one along with some more constructive comment
- Yeah, you tell'em whurley - agreement with very little substance, my comment included
Thinking that people who disagree with the GPLv3 just need to be educated is wrong. I'm sick of seeing "You don't understand," "Trust in RMS," and "This is just an update" responses. Not every issue is a war to be argued, and not everyone will agree with you. I think you become a zealot when you decide that you are obviously right and there is no room for disagreement.