January 18, 2006 11:55 AM PST

New open-source license targets DRM, Hollywood

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--The new version of the most widely used open-source license takes a "highly aggressive" stance against the digital rights management software that's widely favored in the entertainment industry, said Eben Moglen, general counsel for the Free Software Foundation.

At a two-day event here to launch the General Public License version 3, which governs use of countless free and open-source programs, Moglen said the license includes anti-DRM provisions that could put it in conflict with movie studios and even digital video recorder maker TiVo.

Eben Moglen
Eben Moglen
Free Software Foundation

On Monday, the Free Software Foundation published a draft of the GPL version 3, which is expected to be completed in about a year. The draft states that GPL software cannot use "digital restrictions" on copyright material unless users can control them.

Moglen said that DRM technology, which places limits on how consumers can play movies, music or other digital content, is "fundamentally incompatible" with the principles of the Free Software Foundation. Moglen and Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman are co-authors of the GPL version 3.

"Mr. Stallman made perfectly clear that his point of view is: It's enough. It's enough that the world has to pay attention to that (DRM) problem the way the world needed to pay attention to the patent problem 10 years ago," Moglen said in an interview with CNET News.com.

"I recognize that that's a highly aggressive position, but it's not an aggression which we thought up. It's a defense related to an aggression which was launched against the people whose rights are our primary concern," he added.

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Defender of the GPL
For a more extensive Q&A with Eben Moglen, click here.

Moglen said DRM systems that take control out of people's hands or violate their privacy do not respect free software users' rights and therefore are in conflict with the forthcoming GPL provisions.

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 to prevent piracy.

It's not clear whether the Linux operating system kernel will be governed by version 3 of the GPL when the new license is released; creator Linus Torvalds specifically didn't follow the Free Software Foundation's recommendation to describe a software project as governed by version 2 or "any later version." However, many other components of the operating system, such as the GLIBC library of supporting software and the GCC compiler, are expected to move to GPL 3.

Moglen and Stallman have voiced concern specifically with TiVo, which uses Linux, because the company collects information on consumers' actions. Moglen said TiVo complied with version 2 of the GPL "by the skin of its teeth" and said the company will find more difficulty complying with GPL version 3's anti-DRM provisions.

"Having a personal video recorder which reports every button you push to headquarters when you use the remote control--and which won't run software if you modify the box so it snoops on you a little less--is not user-respecting conduct," he said.

"What TiVo needs to do--what everybody needs to do who makes electronic devices--is to stop injuring users to help movie companies. 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," Moglen said.

He said Hollywood studios that use free software, namely Linux, to create animated movies yet deny users' freedoms are "flat unfair."

Separately, Moglen sought to allay concerns that the GPL version 3 requires application hosting companies to provide the source code for software delivered as a service over the Internet.

"It is clear that in this draft we have not changed those rules at all," he said.

CNET News.com's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.

53 comments

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This is big news for Linux! Go Linux!
I feel the Linux community is the only organization that listens to their users.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Linux community...
... always listens to its users because the
Linux community is its users. A nation of the
people, by the people.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
Huh?
Linux users hate watching Hollywood movies and hate listening to commercial artists? Because that's pretty much what GPL v3 will do.

We're looking at either a branch of every single open source project out there into GPL 2 and GPL 3 versions, or relegating GPL software to the backwaters and hobbyist world.

GPL 3 looks truly awful to me. I mean, a mistake on a massive scale.
Posted by samkass (310 comments )
Link Flag
Idealist
I think many organizations listen to their users. Not all of them do what their users say. It's not the same thing. Sometimes the users (collectively) are wrong, and that's reasonable, since they are not all specialists or strategists.
While this stance seems great at first sigth it has the potential to hurt those they want to protect, so they should be careful with what they put on that license, especially since if later they decide it was the wrong step there's little chance of correcting the license for the software developed under it, given GPLs own characteristics. Humanity's biggest mistakes have been made in the name of idealism.
Posted by Hernys (744 comments )
Link Flag
Awesome
This is just what needs to be done. I'm a Windows user, but unfortunately it looks like Vista is going to be subject to some built in DRM, which is really lame. If this is what ends up happening, I could see alot of people switching over to Linux.
Posted by (20 comments )
Link Flag
I don't use Linux...but WOW, this is cool
I like the people standing up for users. It is refreshing to see. GO LINUX! I wish you guys all the success you can handle.
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Reply Link Flag
These guys are flat communists
jeez
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
Reply Link Flag
N00B!!!!
you dont have any idea what you are saying. when we buy a product, we expect to have the full right to modify it and continue to use it. are you saying we are paying for the right to use it, or are we paying for full usage? we legally own the product, why cant we use it the way we want. if anything you are a diehard republicans, computer people dont like republicans, especially the extreme republicans.
Posted by duke12aw (24 comments )
Link Flag
perhaps......
I'm not so certain that communist is the right term... certainly "socialist" could be applied... but in the end, their stance against DRM will hurt Linux. Media companies will simply choose to sign contracts with companies like Microsoft and Apple and will consistently avoid Linux and other GPL software. Not a good move for people interested in the success of GPL software.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Not Really
There is nothing owned in common (one of the big tenates of communism), developers retain their copyrights etc but they allow others to use their code provided they adhere to the terms of the license (in this case the GPL).
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
(Dis)Information
Linux is licensed under GPL 2.0.
It is NOT "Licensed under The GNU General Public License,
Version 2 or later" as most GNU tools and other free (as in
freedom) SW.

The first paragraph is misleading "two-day event to launch the
General Public License version 3". There's no *launch*. GPL 3 is a
draft. Still to be discussed (the second paragraph of the article is
correct).

However, even if the draft was to be accepted as is and becom
the final GPL version 3, that would not apply to linux.
Unless Torvalds explicitely changes the licensing.

Note that even if Linus and the other kernel hackers were to
change the licencing, the current linux would still be licensed
under GPL 2. And anybody could fork it and go ahead
developing a GPL version 2 linux.

Therefore there's absolutely nothing to worry about. If
hollywood is ok using the current linux, it will be ok to use it
forever ad the new licence will never apply to the current linux.

The above is only true for linux, however. Not for GNU tools.
Posted by AndreaFerro (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Author Have No Clue
The author of this article must be confused.

He writes:

"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 to prevent piracy."

I can't image the movie production staff using any software that incorporates DRM. I mean why would a sound engineer, for example, use a tool that would prevent him/her from freely copying music or audio clips?! It doesn't make sense.
Posted by dysonl (151 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Author Has No Clue
The author of this article must be confused.

He writes:

"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 to prevent piracy."

I can't image the movie production staff using any software that incorporates DRM. I mean why would a sound engineer, for example, use a tool that would prevent him/her from freely copying music or audio clips?! It doesn't make sense.
Posted by dysonl (151 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't think that is the problem.
I don't think that is going to be the problem. I think what Hollywood is going to have to ask itself is do they want to continue to use an operating system and software that allows the easy theft of their products.

I will be that the answer will be know. I give high marks for the licenses changes. However, I think in the end it is going to hurt things like Linux as peopel and companies that once used it have to move away from it because it allows for theft of property.

The spirt of the thing is awesome. But, I think it will bite them in the rear.

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Link Flag
Linux won't use GPL 3
If you read the licensing terms for the Linux kernel, you'll notice that it states very clearly that only GPL 2.0 applies, and not any successive version.
Posted by alucinor (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And if Linus did move Linux to GPL3 ...
And if Linus Torvalds did move the Linux kernel to version 3 of the GPL, I bet you some big company would instantly create a fork of the last release of the kernel under v2.0, though they couldn't continue to call the fork Linux -- which would basically doom the whole project, unless it was Microsoft or IBM doing the fork.
Posted by alucinor (71 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah.... Right.
<<If you read the licensing terms for the Linux kernel, you'll notice that it states very clearly that only GPL 2.0 applies>>

No kidding! Maybe that's because the licensing terms were written before there was a GPL 3.0. And GPL 3.0 still isn't finalized, so there is no reason to update the licensing terms.

Do you honestly believe that all this work would go into a new GPL version that forbids DRM WITHOUT the intent of applying it to Linux? Really now... I usually don't make predictions without some type of evidence, but I'll pull a Ty here and say... "Just watch."
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Not Preclusive.
That is not saying that future versions can not use GPL 3. That is saying that you and I can not re-license Linux under any other version of the GPL. It would take a LOT of work to re-license Linux under GPL 3 so I don't think it will happen.

What you will see is that some components such as file systems and media playback may take advantage of GPL 3 to ensure content is portable.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Ownership to License to Lease-ense
When Congress mandates DRM products be sold under lease agreements, as the "Legal Code" authors they should be, the separation between Proprietary Software Leases(PSL) with permanent conditions and Outright Ownership Sales (OOS) will be clearly understood forever.
DRM extends way beyond Movies and Music.
Knowing at a glance at time of sale that future conditions exist is fair regaurdless of which side your on.
Lease or Buy?
Posted by ctambour (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree but...
Sure but when the entire entertainment/software industry is leasing we turn into a communist state.
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Link Flag
principle vs. intent
Mr. Moglen's statement that the proposed changes are "fundamentally incompatible" (if that is what he truly said) with the principles of the Free Software Foundation are at best, polarizing.

There will always be protected works (intellectual properties) and public domain works.

His statement seemed to go against what I see as the INTENT of the revised GPL License (which includes DRM).

Obviously, in the real world, free stuff and licensed stuff exist. I see the attempt at revising the GPL as intended to bridge the gap, not widen it.

Perhaps Mr. Moglen could provide us with suggestions on how to integrate the two. We have to deal with them everyday - and we don't expect to have it one way or another. We just want a workable solution.
Posted by cagerattler (72 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oops, restate/correction
The original post was intended to say that there should be more cooperation between GPL and DRM rather than polarization.

I hope that the authors of GPL eventually take a less aggressive position and offer up suggestions on how GPL users might incorporate DRM materials and vice versa.

Working together is better than falling apart.
Posted by cagerattler (72 comments )
Link Flag
Public domain not all that clear...
You said: "There will always be protected works
(intellectual properties) and public domain
works."

However, it's not that clear that the public
domain will exist in the future. To date,
copyright terms have been extended without
debate whenever requested of Congress, to the
point that there's sufficient precedent that no
current or future work will ever pass into the
public domain.

Further, modern times have added the new concept
of "access control" to copyright law whose
interpretation includes license to ex post facto
impose contractual stipulations on the use or
performance of a work. It's logical extension is
that "access" to works can be restricted
indefinitely, in part by developing mandatory
DRM technologies to actively prohibit access by
default and provide access only by authorization
of a duly designated commercial entity according
to their terms (which do not have to be revealed
to the audience in advance).

Old news reels might be public domain, but if
projectors by law refuse to work without a key
provided by a member of the MPAA then the term
"public domain" effectively no longer means
unrestricted public access and use.

I think we're punting on the public domain.
Without very substantial reform to US copyright
laws, the public domain will cease to exist
within my lifetime.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
Fine lines drawn in ever changing sand.
To date those who support Open Source and the rights of users are communist. Those who say this are hard line Republicans. Hmm. Sounds to me like we all need a nap.

Users have certain rights to the products they buy. You don't actually own the product in most cases, but simply a licence to use that product in a manner that is in accordance to said licence or agreement. Know I don't know law so I'm sure anybody can poke holes and twist the above anyway they want. What I mean though is that when you buy a Movie you don't really have the right to copy it and give it to a friend. Not even under Fair Use. Anyway, we've all been down this road so let me move on.

My thinking is very simple. If you don't like the way Hollywood or the RIAA is treating you, the user, then stop buying their products in any form. Build a campaign to 'educate' the other users about what is going on. Create a group or foundation that can lobby congress to fight for the rights of users. Help get elected officals in office who share your viewpoint. Any of this sound familar. One person isn't going to make a difference (well unless he/she is filthy rich), but get enough people on your side and somebody will listen.

I've said nothing new here. It's been said many times all over the internet. The problems is it's much easier to complain than do anything about it. And I am just as much to blame as the next guy. I see the light, but I stick around in the dark anyway and complain about how dark it is.

The most interesting thing is we know the power that we all have, but we don't know how to organize it. We don't know how to get together and fight for our rights. We are also stuck in this idea that Joe and Jane user have no rights over that of the content creator. The simple fact is content has no value when nobody will buy it.

At the moment I am boycotting all Tom Cruise movies because of his stupid comments on the Today show. Will it make any difference to him or his money? I seriously doubt it, but at least I'm trying.

I say that those of you who feel that DRM is ruining Movies and Music should just stop buying copy protected stuff, but you must also not download illegal copies either. Don't add fuel to the fire. Stop going to movies and supporting companies that are at odds with your opinions. Stop downloading music from companies that are at odds with your opinion. Support local artist and respect their content by not giving it away to everybody under the sun if they don't want it distibuted like that.

Of course we still don't live anywhere near perfect.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Buy to Own. Lease and Licence to use.
[http://Users have certain rights to the products they buy. You don't actually own the product in most cases,...|http://Users have certain rights to the products they buy. You don't actually own the product in most cases,...]

I realize how programmed we are to say ...
...buy a product but you don't actually own...
Licensing should only be used with Lease, albeit Easily Transferable Lease (ETL)
To say ...Lease/License(instead of buy) a product that you don't actually own... is much more correct.
If the differences between "terms of use" was limited to License and Lease, there
wouldn't be any arguements about what Ownership was.

Buy to own. Period
Lease/License to use. Period
Contract Law is only as complicated as you make it.

You can't give something (Movie/Music Copy) you only Lease/License because you don't own it.
The impression the Movie/Music you "BUY for your COLLECTION" is OWNED, is false.
Programers write software Code, Congress writes Legal Code. If you confuse the intent of your Code (defitions) right off the bat all future arguements will be confused.

Ownership should be as close to "as is" as you can get.
Ownership means you traded money(usually) for it.
Ownership means you can take it apart and put it back together like a bike or a watch (if you're

good).
You can add, change or modify if you want (if you're good).
A lease/License restricts what you can do with it.
A lease/License can set a time period it's good for.(1 year, 10 years, or until we upgrade, change our codes or just no longer support your product).
Ownership means you can add, change or modify to keep it running (if you're good).

And if anyone still needs more than a nap, try PoliticsAnonymous.com
Posted by ctambour (11 comments )
Link Flag
That's a problem.
"My thinking is very simple. If you don't like the way Hollywood or the RIAA is treating you... Build a campaign to 'educate' the other users about what is going on... lobby congress to fight for the rights of users. Help get elected officals in office who share your viewpoint. Any of this sound familar. One person isn't going to make a difference (well unless he/she is filthy rich), but get enough people on your side and somebody will listen."

That's the problem with america. You have to have lots of money to get your viewpoint heard (or at least acted upon). Big business holds way too much power. No consumer group will ever have as much money as hollywood when it comes to lobbying. I can't form a little neighborhood group and go to congress and compete with studios making billions of dollars.

Same with any issue. For example, when the oil industry controls congress, no environemntal legsislation cutting into their profits will be passed, regardless of its own merits.

America is great, but currently we live under a corrupt, greedy government, and it's unrealistic to expect that your idea will be evaluated on its own merits, as opposed to how much money is attached to it.

I for one am glad that someone is standing up to them.
Posted by jdbwar07 (150 comments )
Link Flag
IP - DRM
I look to the Chinese for my values regarding DRM...nuff said!
Posted by tryoneon (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Additional provision
I would add the following provision to the final draft: Any entity that makes use of open source software, must make open source products with it.
If they want the benefits of open source, they must give back to the community, or bleed money through their noses in propietary software. I would also add that any product made with open source software must be DRM-free.
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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