January 31, 2006 7:41 AM PST

U.K. Linux guru backs GPL 3

Alan Cox, a leading U.K. Linux developer, has expressed his support for the next version of the General Public License.

Cox
Alan Cox
Linux developer

The first public draft of GPL 3 was released a couple of weeks ago, with a final version due by spring 2007.

Cox told ZDNet UK that he thinks that many of the changes in GPL 3 are sound: "The majority of it looks very sensible, such as letting copyright information be displayed in an About box rather than relying on command line instructions (as is the case in GPL 2). Some of the more contentious stuff has sensibly been made optional."

"One of the other nice things is the work to make the GPL compatible with other licenses. That's really important; it will allow people to share more code," Cox added.

His viewpoint is in direct contradiction to that of Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux, who said last week that he won't convert Linux to GPL 3, as he objects to its proposed digital rights management, or DRM, provisions.

Cox said the DRM provisions "don't really matter" to the Linux kernel, as DRM is generally used by applications.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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"Journalism"
Another pearl of journalism:

"""His viewpoint is in direct contradiction to that of Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux, who said last week that he won't convert Linux to GPL 3, as he objects to its proposed digital rights management, or DRM, provisions."""

Linus said he will not use GPL3 since it is burdensome to transition such a huge project to a new license. DRM is just one of the pieces which makes GPL2 and GPL3 little bit uncompatible - asking every Linux contributor would he agree to relicense the code under GPL3 is quite a task nobody wants to take on.

That kind of reporting looks more like yellow journalism. Not the good ol' C|Net's reporting style.

P.S. Ironically enough, have the journalists ever cared to do research before publishing, they would have found precisely reversed positions on DRM in Linux kernel: Cox was one of the developers against any kind of DRM in Linux kernel, while Linus is Okay with DRM system as long as it is GPLed.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
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Brothers ?
is he and Stallman caveman brothers ?
looks similar, lol:)
Posted by (128 comments )
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Reply to: Ihar Filipau
The issue comes down to this: What definition of "DRM" are you using, and is DRM compatible with Free Software depending on your definition of DRM.

I use DRM to mean those technologies which are intended to make a computer "robust against the owner of the tools" such that owners are able to use the tools to decode content but that the tools are not fully under their control (to do things not allowed by the DRM manufacturer, whether these activities are legal or not).

The GPL is intended to be copyleft, meaning that not only does the current version of software licensed under it conform to the Free Software definition, but that derivatives will as well. Any law which says that the user is not allowed to modify the software becomes a legal loophole against the GPL, meaning that something can be licensed under the GPL but due to the addition of DRM it is not legal for a computer owner to exert their "freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software."

All the GPL V3 does is update the GPL to close legal loopholes that were created with the 1996 WIPO treaties and other such changes in the law.

The GPL V2 is no longer really a Copyleft license due to these legal loopholes. To say that someone "agrees with DRM as long as it is under the GPL" is to agree with (or be unaware of) these legal loopholes and to not be concerned that the copyleft aspects of the license are no longer effective.
Posted by Russell McOrmond (63 comments )
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