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SubjectRe: Dual-Licensing Linux Kernel with GPL V2 and GPL V3
On Jun 17, 2007, Linus Torvalds <> wrote:

> On Sat, 16 Jun 2007, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>> I've already explained what the spirit of the GPL is.

> No. You've explained one thing only: that you cannot see that people don't
> *agree* on the "spirit".

They don't have to.

Just like nobody but you can tell why you chose the GPLv2, nobody but
RMS can tell why he wrote the GPL. And the intent behind writing the
GPL is what defines its spirit.

> Yes, people have brought out the argument that the GPLv3 actually
> even changes the spirit,

And that's the point that I'm fighting here. It does not change the
spirit. It's still ensuring that Free Software remains Free:
respecting and defending the four freedoms defined in the Free
Software definition.

>> I've already explained that the anti-Tivoization provision is in line
>> with it.

> .. and we have already explained to you that it's irrelevant.

It is relevant. It was the point that my participation was intended
to address.

I guess it is just too hard to accept that an FSFer could not be
trying to force GPLv3 down your throat or some other such nonsense.

> - The GPLv2 was ok with Tivo.

There's disagreement about this, even among developers of the kernel
Linux, and you know it.

I know you're always right and I pretend to respect that ;-), but why
do you think your opinion should prevail over theirs? Don't you
realize that they're as entitled as you are to enforce the license,
and in the way *they* (not you) perceive and meant to license their

And then again, this is not something I'm overly concerned about. I
probably don't have enough contributions to Linux for my take on it to
make any difference whatsoever.

This is not the real issue at all. The real issue, that brought me
here and got you to name calling me and the FSFs, is that there were
false claims about the GPLv3 that I wanted to dispell, particularly
the point about its changing the spirit. The anti-tivoization
provisions are in the spirit of the GPL, and so much so that a number
of people perceive them as already covered by GPLv2.

> - The GPLv3 tries to stop Tivo.

A minor nit, but no, it doesn't. It tries to stop the practice of
tivoization on programs licensed under the GPLv3.

TiVo has a number of choices, and so do other tivoizers, even if they
adopt software under the GPLv3.

> What I care about is that the GPLv3 is a _worse_license_ than GPLv2,

Even though anti-tivoization furthers the quid-pro-quo spirit that you
love about v2, and anti-tivoization is your only objection to v3?
That's what I don't understand. This is so obviously contradictory to
me that it's almost funny, and you've so far dodged my questions about
this and refrainied from commenting on this contradiction so much that
it looks like it's a blind spot in your mind.

> I'd be stupid to select the worse of two licenses, wouldn't I?

Yes. That's precisely why I don't understand your stance. Because I
expect you to be intelligent, but starting from your stated motivation
for choosing GPLv2, and from the consequences of the anti-tivoization
provisions, you'd satisfy your motivations better with v3.

Tivoization reduces the motivation for customers of tivoized devices
to improve the software. You end up with contributions from the
manufacturers alone, instead of from all the user community.

With explicit anti-tivoization provisions, you may very well lose
contributions from some tivoizers, but for those who change their
stance, you gain far more contributors. You don't need a lot of
tivoizers to take the path of freedom for you to win big time in the
bottom line that you posed as the only relevant one.

You see why I don't understand your position?

> They are also "anti-anything-else-that-might-want-to-lock-down-a-
> specific-version-for-security-or-regulatory-reasons".

It's not, this is false. "Lock down" is permitted. It just won't
work if the business model depends on modifying stuff behind the
user's back. But other cases of "lock down" are permitted:

this requirement does not apply if neither you nor any third party
retains the ability to install modified object code on the User
Product (for example, the work has been installed in ROM).

> - Not everybody thinks like you or agrees with you.

> - In particular, the original copyright author in the kernel does *not*
> think like you, and *realized* that he doesn't really like the FSF
> religious agenda years and years ago, and made sure that the FSF cannot
> control the licensing of the Linux kernel.

I hereby acknowledge, one more time, that I accept these facts.

Since we're in such a good mood now, would you mind acknoledging some
other simple facts, such that we can end this discussion?

- the spirit of the GNU GPL, written by RMS in the FSF, is to keep
Free Software Free, respecting and defending the freedoms of users of
software licensed under the GPL

It can serve other goals, and some people, yourself included, chose
it for other reasons, but the intent, the spirit of the license is
what its author intended it to be, just like the intent behind each
contribution to Linux is whatever the author of the contribution
meant it to be.

- GPLv3 does not change this spirit

On the contrary, it advances this spirit. Given that defending
these freedoms is the mission of the FSF, it's no surprise that it
does revise the GPL to do it. It's not like it has a choice.

- Tivoization reduces the incentive for contributions

Customers of tivoized devices can't enjoy or even test the benefits
of their modifications to the software on the device where the
modifications would be most useful for them.

- anti-tivoization provisions encourage tivoizers who can respect
users' freedoms to do so

If the choice is that or not being able to change the software for
the user or adopting another platform, they may very well choose
this option, and then you get not only more users and mind-share,
but also far more contributors, and the community of developers that
forms around the product benefits the former-tivoizer as well.

Are these so hard to accept?

Alexandre Oliva
FSF Latin America Board Member
Red Hat Compiler Engineer aoliva@{,}
Free Software Evangelist oliva@{,}
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