[Dnsmasq-discuss] GPL v3

Imre Kaloz kaloz at openwrt.org
Wed Sep 12 21:11:06 BST 2007

On Wed, 12 Sep 2007 20:32:47 +0200, Cristóbal Palmer  
<cristobalpalmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> What v3 does in section 6 is broadly define "consumer product" and
> make restrictions apply to the distribution of object code "in or
> embodied in" consumer products. This isn't "letting the big guys get
> away," as I see it. Rather, it's acknowledging the major interest of
> many of the stakeholders: preserving their software freedoms for stuff
> they buy and use. "Stuff they use" == "consumer product" in realistic
> cases, so what's the problem?

Realistic for John Doe, who won't do any development anyways, and maybe  
for John Foo, who just plays with $(KICKASS_NEW_TOY). On the other hand,  
John Bar who works on $(NONPROFIT_PROJECT) this won't help if he gets his  
hands on $(DEVELOPMENT_BOARD) what isn't a "consumer product".. And no,  
John Bar didn't buy it for $2000-20000, but got it from ebay/whatever. Or  
imagine some telco equipment used on the service provider's side..

> Perhaps your conception of the goals of v3 is different? You don't
> believe that it's ever legitimate to build an appliance and sell that
> appliance--to any entity--without the source code? Is that it? My take
> is that large businesses are powerful enough to assert that source
> code will be provided in a transaction with another business (and
> realistically have that demand met), so they don't need protecting.
> The individual consumer, on the other hand...

If someone wants to sell something without source code, it has to use  
propietary or bsdl'ed code. And we are not speaking about the release of  
the code (they have to release that anyways), but if they are free to keep  
the "installation information" for that or not. GPLv3 forces companies to  
give "installation information" to the endusers, too. Now imagine how much  
extra is that on money spent on user manuals and user support, when for  
example the whole "magic" is nothing else then a tarball.. Explain this to  
John Doe, happy windows user and wannabe hacker.. Not to mention how to  
explain him public key crypto..

And sure, I want companies to release for example $(WHATEVER_UTILITY) -  
needed to generate a valid firmware for exmaple. But I know that the extra  
costs and annoyence will drive companies away from embedded Linux.

> Please note that I *do* believe that source code should always be
> available, but I think it's worth being pragmatic about protecting the
> people who need protecting *first*. The GPLv3 is a highly pragmatic
> document that was negotiated over a long period of time in order to
> achieve powerful protections for people--individuals--who didn't have
> those protections under the previous version. This is a step forward
> that I think we should take, but only when we're all in agreement
> about _why_ we're taking the steps we're taking and we're sure that
> those steps are having the desired effects (ie. are protecting us like
> we thought they would).

GPLv2 protected both individuals and companies the same way. GPLv3 can be  
considered a step further for John Doe and John Foo. On the other hand,  
John Bar and the embedded Linux world will just loose with it.


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