It seems like the final break between open source and free software is about to take place. Linus Torvalds has declared that the Linux kernel will not be released using GPLv3, but that it will continue to use version 2. The dispute is the controversial prohibition on the use of Digital Rights Management found in section 3 of the licence. Linus has commented that the new GPL would require people to give control of their private keys, which he will not do.

This should come as no surprise to those who follow open source debates. Back in 2003 Linus had already expressed that he thought some DRMs were useful. I believe that he was talking about the distinction between DRM and technical protection measures. There are already open source projects like Authena that intend to allow artist control, while at the same time provide users the tools to use DRM to monitor and track their works. Remember, DRM is a very broad term, and things like licence management can be considered in that light.

A line has been drawn. Will DRM be the end of the GPL? That would be ironic. I tend to be more on the open source side, I’ve never been a Stallmanite, and I believe that there are serious problems with the existing draft.

Categories: Open source


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