Kernel developers' position on GPLv3

Niall Douglas s_sourceforge at
Tue Sep 26 08:04:49 UTC 2006

On 26 Sep 2006 at 1:16, Shane M. Coughlan wrote:

> > RMS: "GPLv3 does not forbid DRM, it is not possible to do that.  What
> > it does is to provide an escape from the restrictions for those who
> > want to escape".
> With amazing timing...there has just been a release from the GPLv3
> process that directly addresses some of the developer concerns about the
> license.  I have posted it pretty much in full below because it's
> exactly what we're talking about.

This "clarification" will do nothing because it doesn't address the core 
point of the kernel developers - that as it currently stands, the wording 
of the GPL v3 is just too vague.

They then go on to say that in their opinion, you can't write any wording 
which wouldn't have unintended consequences and therefore you should drop 
the attempt. That's going too far IMHO, but I do WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree that 
the wording is FAR, FAR too vague. For example, as far as I understood 
revision 2, it COULD be incompatible with BSD licensing, COULD be 
incompatible with authentication signing keys (ie; this binary was made by 
me), COULD be incompatible with permitting GPL v3 binaries to be 
transferred over a SSL connection etc.

The language is ambiguous. It shouldn't be. How so many obviously 
intelligent people in the FSF after so many iterations just don't get this 
is beyond me and many others, but if you try arguing this with them they 
start frothing at the mouth and claiming you've got some evil ulterior 
motive. This then leads to stalemate, which then leads to extraordinary 
reaction like publishing a public call for the FSF to stop.

And you know what happens next if the FSF doesn't stop? Yep, the kernel 
developer's own 'enhancement' of GPL v2. We'll have a full on fork with a 
massive slow down in open source software development across the board. I 
personally welcome that as I'm not a fan of the GPL anyway (LGPL v2.1 yes, 
not GPL) but it won't be pleasant to watch everyone tear themselves apart 
needlessly :(


More information about the Discussion mailing list