On Tue, Dec 04, 2012 at 09:20:19AM -0500, Theodore Ts'o wrote:
If we're going to allow manufacturers to lock down their devices,
they surely can do using the GPLv2 even if they need to jump through
the hoops correctly, what is the value of having the license require
the hoops? Hope that they screw up so we can play "gotcha" and demand
sources or hit them with a lawsuit?
By the way, this is why I respected Eben Moglin's hard line position
on the anti-lockdown clause. Either the copyright license should have
it, or shouldn't. Whether you want to call the people who have
managed to use the GPLv2's to achieve various business objections via
locking down the ability to install modified code "using a loophole",
or "a defect in GPLv2", or (as some would say) "a flawed
interpretation of the GPLv2 language", if you're going to lock it
down, you should lock it down all the way.
On the flip side, if we're going to allow manufacturers of dedicated
consumer electronic devices to lock down the device, we shouldn't
require that they jump through flaming hoops and do things exactly
right, or otherwise leave legal traps which we hope that they fall
into. To do otherwise would be, in my mind, somewhat dishonest.
So the only place where I could envision some compromise would perhaps
be in trying to define what we mean by a "dedicated consumer device",
versus a "general purpose computer". There is precedence in this;
witness GPLv3's exemption of medical devices and voting machines.
The problem is that the line between "consumer devices" and "general
purpose computers" gets fuzzier and fuzzier. While most people
wouldn't care whether or not they could update the software on a
watch, what happens when the watch has more computing power than a
microVax II did back in the day, and you can download applications to
If we try to do it by device function, i.e., "medical devices" and
"voting machines", what happens when someone comes up with some
additional device family where there might be legitimate public policy
reasons why allowing manufacturers to be able to lock down the
software is OK? So I'm not actually a big fan of the GPLv3 approach
of discriminating against specific fields of endeavor for exemption is
such a great idea.
So how would you propose to split the baby in a way where
anti-lockdown versus not isn't a stark philosophical choice? I don't
see how it could be anything other than a either 100% yes or 100% no
choice in a license.