GPL 3 :: Interview with Eben Moglen
Posted: Jan 21, 06, 11:05 techAdmin
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There's an interview on zdnet about the GPL 3 [draft version]with Eben Moglen, a Columbia Law School professor and attorney representing the Free Software Foundation who has the new role of explaining and overseeing the update to the General Public License (GPL). Eben is General Counsel for the Free Software Foundation and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center.
If you're not clear on what's been happening, especially in the area of software patents and the DMCA, you might want to give this interview a good read.
Re Patent Law:
:: Quote ::Q: When you talk about a legal environment changing for the worse I suspect in part at least you're referring to patent law.
Moglen: Your surmise, of course, is right. What happened was that in 1991, GPL version 2 warned people: If you don't pay attention to the patent problem, it's going to hurt everybody, free and unfree alike. Fifteen years later, I don't think there's anybody in the business--not even the most established near-monopolist--who doesn't understand that there's a problem with patent law. The beneficiaries of patent law themselves now recognize the nature of the difficulty.
Re the DMCA:
:: Quote ::It's [the DCMA] a form of legal subsidy to business--in the form of regulatory rules--which is harming trillions of dollars of business on behalf of the few tens of billions of dollars of business for certain entertainment industries.
This is a nice analogy for what is wrong with software patents - keep in mind that software patents and software copyrights are two totally different things. A copyright gives the author rights to his full work, or unique parts thereof, whereas a patent allows someone who has not even created a real work to patent vague ideas. If you've ever read some of the recent google patents you'll start seeing how absurd this is.
:: Quote ::Imagine a world in which news was owned in such a way that once one guy reported it nobody else could report it for 20 years because the first guy to report it owned it. That's the problem that the patent law proposes to software.
What will remain the same in GPL 3:
:: Quote ::What won't change is the ethics. What won't change is the commitment to users' freedoms.
The longer I do this stuff, the more I start to understand what Stallman is talking about when he refers to the basic freedoms of software useage, and how obstructing any of those reduces your choice and freedom.
All the major proprietary systems demonstrate this point clearly. Windows as a consumer desktop near monopoly clearly reduces your choice and your freedom. Same for DRM, and everything else they keep thinking up.
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