My concerns about GPLv3 process

MJ Ray mjr at
Mon Jan 30 19:21:11 UTC 2006

simo <simo.sorce at>
> On Sat, 2006-01-28 at 20:40 +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
[bug tracking GPLv3]
> > How the devil could that have got out of control? It uses
> > skills that FSF should already have available, unlike a
> > large political caucus structure, which looks strange for
> > hackers and easy for the uncooperative to subvert.
> I do not understand what are you talking about. The web site tool is
> very powerful and very useful both for putting comments and for
> searching/browsing or aggregating them into issues, you should try it
> out. And where's the large political caucus structure ??

Try it out??? That web site tool tells me that my browser is
not supported, even though it's a recent Gecko-based one. Not
that it's easy to read the badly-CSS'd page anyway. (The message
has changed since I last looked to say "Loading comments. If
you're still reading this, it's a strong indication that we do
not properly support your browser yet. You may need to _email
your comments_ instead, or try another recent Gecko-based
browser. You can, however, _browse comments_ on any browser.")

Compare: "We support the Best Viewed with Any Browser campaign"

The large political caucus structure is described in - mere serfs only
make comments to the appointed Discussion Committees who then
decide what to present to the Foundation in direct hearings
(Minor) or International meetings (Major).  The Discussion
Committees meetings need not be public, so I call it a
caucus system after the non-public political party meetings
or the WSIS group meetings.

> > The process being used so far is a conference in the homeland
> > of the DMCA, a Big-Business-friendly launch press release, a web
> > site with poor accessibility, and committees to filter comments
> > into group statements for leaders to consider. It all seems
> > rather similar to the Vienna process to me.  Sorry, but if it
> > looks like a duck, I ask: will it quack like a duck?
> So what's the point in this rant ?

Try to promote the request to use an open, familiar process
with a truly international aspect instead of the cooptable
caucuses. Look up "Regulatory Capture" and compare vulnerable
models with the GPLv3 process. No licensor nor licensee should
be allowed to influence this process in secret.

> I think you should calm down and look at the outcome, and partecipate by
> leaving insightful comments on the draft, that would help. It's not at
> all like the Vienna process, and it does not pretend to be "democratic",
> but it is open to comments as it should be.

These criticisms are made calmly. I'd really prefer to have
these bugs fixed long before the outcome maybe goes wrong.
The arguments for secrecy are rather limited, aren't they?

Would leaving comments help? The opaque process does make me
doubt it. Each time I ask a question about the process, there's
been either "wait" or no clear answer AFAICR.

"Democratic" can just mean governed by the people. If the FSF
did not wish there to be any democracy in GPLv3, then the
comments process is insincere. I don't believe that's the case,
so I'd like to see at least the minimal democratic transparency.

> The License is that of the FSF and I think the FSF has all the rights to
> decide which process to use to design a new license. The FSF has
> demonstrated innumerable times their ideas, and I think you can put at
> least some trust in their intentions.

Of course the FSF has the right to use whatever process it wants.
I have the right to question the process and it would be wonderful
to see some of the FSF board minutes that show the reasoning.

I think FSF members want the GPLv3 to be useful and have wide
public support, but I think it looks like they have picked a
lousy tool to try to accomplish that.

I have more trust in FSF over the GPL than when they go outside
free software, but I admit that my trust was shaken by treating
valid FDL concerns with contempt.

MJ Ray - personal email, see
Work:  Jabber/SIP ask

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