January 18, 2006 11:55 AM PST

New open-source license targets DRM, Hollywood

Related Stories

Defender of the GPL

January 19, 2006

Stallman unbending on software patents

January 17, 2006

Public debate on GPL 3 draft begins

January 16, 2006
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.

newsmaker
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

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
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
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
(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
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
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
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
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
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
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.