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<title>GPLv3 - Transcript of Richard Stallman from the second
international GPLv3 conference, Porto Alegre, Brazil;
<h1>Transcript of Richard Stallman at the 2nd international GPLv3
conference ; 21st April 2006</h1>
See our <a href="gplv3.html">GPLv3 project</a> page for information
on <a href="gplv3#participate">how to participate</a>. And you may
be interested in
our <a href="">list of
transcripts on GPLv3 and free software licences</a>.
<p>The following is a transcript of Richard Stallman's presentation
made at the second international GPLv3 conference, held in Porto
Alegre in conjunction with the International Free Software Forum
(FISL). Good quality videos of the entire conference should become
available online in the future. This transcript was made from a low
quality recording made with a digital camera. There are some gaps
due to hardware limitations.
<p>Transcription of this event was undertaken
by Ciaran O'Riordan.
Please support work such as this by
joining <a href="">the Fellowship of FSFE</a>,
and by encouraging others to do so.</p>
<p>Richard Stallman launched
the <a href="/freesoftware/gnuproject.html">GNU project</a> in 1983,
and with it the <a href="/freesoftware/freesoftware.html">Free
Software</a> movement. Stallman is the president of FSF - a sister
organisation of FSFE.</p>
<p>The speech was made in English.</p>
<h2>Presentation sections</h2>
<li><a href="#begin">The presentation</a></li>
<li><a href="#what-is-gpl">What is the GNU GPL and Free Software?</a></li>
<li><a href="#what-is-copyleft">What is copyleft?</a></li>
<li><a href="#before-gnu-gpl">Pre-history: before the GNU GPL</a></li>
<li><a href="#liberty-or-death">The "Liberty or Death" clause, the main change from v1 to v2</a></li>
<li><a href="#why-change-it">Why change it? It was always in the plan, hence "or any later version"</a></li>
<li><a href="#tivoisation">First main change: malicious DRM part 1, preventing tivoisation</a></li>
<li><a href="#circumvention-not-prohibited">Malicious DRM part 2, grant of permission to access generated data</a></li>
<li><a href="#software-patents-grant">Second main change: software patents part 1, explicit patent grant</a></li>
<li><a href="#software-patents-retaliation">Software patents part 2, narrow retaliation</a></li>
<li><a href="#licence-compatibility">Third main change: licence compatibility</a></li>
<li><a href="#limits-of-requirements">How the addable requirements are limited</a></li>
<h2>Questions and Answers session sections</h2>
<li><a href="#q10-gfdl">Is GPLv3 good for documentation (about GFDL)?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q20-affero">Why not put the Affero clause for web services into the licence?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q30-cooperating-with-osi">About cooperating with OSI / ESR</a></li>
<li><a href="#q40-creative-commons">Creative Commons is not one licence</a></li>
<li><a href="#q50-osi-responds">Michael Tiemann of OSI comments on RMS's work</a></li>
<li><a href="#q60-translations">Will there be official translations of GPLv3</a></li>
<li><a href="#q70-fragments">Fragments of a tivoisation question before the camera dies</a></li>
<li><a href="#links">Links to documents for more information on the
topics covered</a></li>
<h2 id="begin">The presentation</h2>
[Richard starts by noting bad news that he has heard the Brazillian
patent office is now accepting software patents and says that this is
the most important thing for Latin American Free Software supporters
to work on in the coming months.]
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: So now I will turn to the subject I was supposed to
speak about, which is somewhat related: the GNU General Public
License, or the GNU GPL for short.
<p id="what-is-gpl">[section: What is the GNU GPL and Free Software?]</p>
<p class="indent">
First of all: what is the GNU General Public License?
<p class="indent">
The GNU General Public License is a Free Software licence, that means
a licence which is designed to give you four essential freedoms - the
four freedoms that define Free Software.
<p class="indent">
A program is Free Software if you, the user, have these four freedoms:
<li class="indent">
Freedom zero is the freedom to run the program as you wish, for any
<li class="indent">
Freedom one is the freedom to study the source code and change it to
make it do what you wish.
<li class="indent">
Freedom two is the freedom to help your neighbour, that's the freedom
to make copies and distribute them to others when you wish.
<li class="indent">
Freedom three is the freedom to help your community: the freedom to
publish or distribute modified versions when you wish.
<p class="indent">
With these four freedoms, the program is Free Software because it is
distributed in an ethical fashion and respects the user's individual
freedom and respects the social solidarity of their community.
<p class="indent">
If you one of these freedoms is missing, that means the program is
distributed in an anti-social way that tramples the user's freedom,
that attacks social solidarity, in a way that keeps the users divided
and helpless, in a way that should never be done. So, any licence
that grants the user these four freedoms is a Free Software licence.
<p class="indent">
There are many Free Software licences - too many perhaps - it's
somewhat inconvenient when there are so many but the fact is that
anyone can write a license that grants these four freedoms, and that
is a Free Software licence. If it does grant these four freedoms, it
is a Free Software licence.
<p class="indent">
The GNU General Public License was among the first Free Software
licences. I do know of one that existed before and that is the
licence of TeX, but the GNU General Public License was designed
specifically to be a Free Software licence.
<p id="what-is-copyleft">[section: What is copyleft?]</p>
<p class="indent">
There are two broad categories of Free Software licences. Those that
are copyleft and those that are not.
<p class="indent">
Copyleft means that the licence actively defends the freedom of all
users and what this means is: we don't just stop with giving you these
four freedoms but we ensure that every user that gets a copy of the
program gets the same four freedoms in the same way.
<p class="indent">
This is the idea of copyleft. A non-copyleft licence grants the four
freedoms but it allows creating modified versions which are not free
at all which means that by the time the program gets to you, it might
have passed through some intermediary who has taken away the freedom,
so you might get the code without the freedom. Whereas a copyleft
licence says that when intermediaries pass the code along to you, they
must give you the same freedom they got from us. So you must get the
freedom. All users must get the freedom. That is the basic idea of
<p class="indent">
So the GNU General Public License says: you are permitted to modify
this program, you are permitted to copy this program, you are
permitted to distribute those copies, you are permitted to distribute
modified versions. But there's a condition: whatever version you
distribute, must be under this licence, and it must be available as
source code. That means that people who get it from you will get the
same freedom that you got, so all the users get those freedoms.
<p id="before-gnu-gpl">[section: Pre-history: before the GNU GPL]</p>
<p class="indent">
The first General Public Licenses that I worked on in the 1980s were
for individual GNU programs. For instances, GNU Emacs had the GNU
Emacs General Public License, but then I realised that there was a
problem. Different GNU packages had licences which were just slightly
different because each licence had to state the name of the program
that covers it. So GNU Emacs had the GNU Emacs General Public License
and GCC had the GCC General Public License and they were the same
except that one says that it is the GNU Emacs General Public License
and the other said it was the GCC General Public License, which meant
that they were not actually the same, they were just isomorphic.
<p class="indent">
And this was a practical problem. I realised that it would be much
more convenient if the licences were identical in all programs, so I
worked on this some more and I arranged that the licence did not need
to have the name of the program in it anymore. So the licence for
Emacs could be word for word identical to the licence in GCC.
<p class="indent">
So the GNU General Public License version 1 was published in 1989 as a
Free Software copyleft licence that you could drop into your program
in order to release your program under that licence.
<p id="liberty-or-death">[section: The "Liberty or Death" clause, the main change from v1 to v2]</p>
<p class="indent">
Some fairly small changes were made to produce version 2 in 1991. I
think the biggest change in version 2 was to introduce a "Liberty or
Death" clause - the clause that says if somebody uses a patent or
something else to effectively make a program non-free then it cannot
be distributed at all. And the reason is this clause is extremely
important. You see, there is nothing we can do to take away the legal
problem of software patents. If somebody has a patent that covers a
free program, he can stop that program from being distributed. He can
sue everybody who distributes it if he wants to actually pay lawyers to
do that.
<p class="indent">
We can't prevent that by what we put in the licence for the program
itself, but we can prevent something that's even worse. A fate that's
worse than death for the program and that is suppose the patent holder
says to every distributor "I'll sue you unless you take out a licence
and pay me" and thus in effect, people will have to get permission and
pay for permission to distribute the program, it would not be a free
program anymore.
<p class="indent">
We can't write our licence to make software patents go away, but we
can write our licence so that they can kill the program but they can't
enslave it.
<p class="indent">
This makes a difference because if they thought that by suing, they
could make everybody pay them, it would be extremely attractive,
extremely tempting to do that. And so we would be seeing lots of free
programs that had been made effectively be proprietary, whose licences
have become fiction because you wouldn't really have the freedoms that
they say you have.
<p class="indent">
To kill the program is less attractive because that doesn't bring you
money - at least not directly. So by saying "You can kill this
program but you can't enslave it's users", to some extent we have
protected ourselves from either one because only if somebody is acting
from malice, from an attempt to just cause trouble for us, does he
<p class="indent">
Of course, there are some companies that do have patents that might
want to attack us just for the sake of making us fail and one of them
has obtained substantial presence here and asks for our cooperation,
but at least this clause - the "Liberty of Death" clause - does some
good. That was the main change in version 2 in 1991.
<p class="indent">
Back then, 1991, it was mostly parts of the GNU system, GNU packages,
that used the GNU General Public License, but during the 1990s many
other people started writing Free Software and releasing their
programs under the GNU GPL. It was designed so that this would be
easy to do, I hoped people would do this, and in the 1990s they
started. So, the result is that the GNU GPL is now the principal free
software licence, used for about 70% of Free Software packages.
<p id="why-change-it">[section: Why change it? It was always in the
plan, hence "or any later version"]</p>
<p class="indent">
So why are we changing it? Well, from the very beginning, I figured
that we would be changing it some day. Things change, new problems
always develop, laws are changing, and so I realised that we would
have to change this licence some day. And, I also figured that this
would apply to many programs written by lots of different people, so I
suggested to people: please release your programs saying "GNU GPL
version 1 or greater", saying this program may be used under version 1
of the GNU GPL or any later versions, and this way, when version 2 came
out, those programs would automatically be usable under version 2 and
then since version two, we've been releasing programs saying "this can
be used under version 2 or any later version" so that in the future,
when GPL version 3 is finalised and is ready for use and officially
published, all those programs would be available under version 3 as
well, and this way, all these programs will make a smooth transition
to GPL version 3.
<p class="indent">
Ok, it's not surprising that there would be a change someday, but why
specifically are we changing it now? And what are the changes?
<p class="indent">
Well, first of all, there is no one big change. There is no one
reason for these changes, each change has it's own little reason. The
basic idea is the same: make sure all the users get these four
freedoms. All the changes are in details. Many of the changes are
clarifications - they're not intended to change the meaning at all,
just make it clearer to everybody that the meaning is what it is.
<p class="indent">
Some changes are meant to make the GPL more independent of variations
between countries and their laws for software. Although copyright is
pretty much the same thing in all countries, some details vary, so now
we know more, and we're in a position to ask more people for advice
about what the differences are between particular countries' laws.
<p class="indent">
We've designed the new language to insulate itself from the changes so
that regardless of these changes, the meaning of the GPL is the same.
<p class="indent">
Well, that's going to be very non-controversial, I'm sure. But there
are some changes that really are meant to be substantive changes.
There are three main areas for this. One is to do with Tivoisation,
another has to do with software patents, and another has to do with
compatibility with other Free Software licences.
<p id="tivoisation">[section: First main change: malicious DRM part 1, preventing tivoisation]</p>
<p class="indent">
First: Tivoisation. That's a word I made up. It's named after a
product called the TiVo, which is the first example - or at least the
first I remember - of a certain specific threat to our freedom. The
Tivo contains a GNU+Linux operating system - a fairly small one, but
that's what it is. And this means it contains programs released under
the GNU GPL, and as far as I know they're not violating the GNU GPL,
so I'm presuming that the users can get the source code, that they
make it available in one of the appropriate ways. So the users can
get the source code, they can edit it, they can compile their modified
versoins, they can install them in the Tivo, and then they won't run.
<p class="indent">
You see, the Tivo is designed so that it won't run your changed
versions, it refuses to even start and thus, nominally, Freedom number
1, the freedom to change the source code so that it will do what you
want, nominally the users have that freedom but really the user does
not have that freedom. You can change the source code so that it
would do what you want, but then it won't do anything.
<p class="indent">
So this is called Tivoisation and this is what we're trying to
prevent. But why are we so concerned with this? Well, why would
anybody do Tivoisation? What is the motive? The reason is because
they're putting malicious features into the code and they don't want
the users to fix these deliberate problems. The Tivo has two kinds of
nasty features.
<p class="indent">
One is that it spies on the user - it reports what the user watches.
And second, it doesn't allow the user to copy any of the TV programs
out of the Tivo. So this is a form of Digital Restrictions
Management. Now, they're goal is to restrict the users and deny the
users freedom. So, when the users are getting Free Software, the
users can really exercise Freedom 1 and change the software so as to
get around the restrictions, but that would defeat the whole scheme to
restrict you. So, they tivoise the software to stop you effectively
changing the software and that way you can't escape from the
restrictions. In general, tivoisation is done by someone who wants to
impose nasty features, malicious features, on another.
<p class="indent">
Now, I disagree with those features, I think they're unethical. Well,
as long as people continue to have the full, the real enjoyment of
Freedom number 1, I don't need to worry about those malicious features
because people will take them out, they will fix them, but once the
software is tivoised, the users can't fix it.
<p class="indent">
So GPL version 3 was designed to prohibit tivoisation. It does not
prohibit the malicious features of the code. It does not prohibit
changing the software to report what the user does. It does not
prohibit changing the software so that it refuses to copy things or so
that it doesn't have a feature to copy things at all, but it does
prohibit stopping the user from making other modifications.
<p class="indent">
The way it does this is something we had to work on, we had to really
think about how to achieve this. It actually doesn't do this by
prohibiting any mode of distribution. They can design the hardware to
that it requires the binaries to be signed by a certain signature key
in order to run, but they must give you the signature key so that you
can sign your modified binaries. They must give you whatever it takes
to authorise your version so that it will run. So, that is the main
anti-Digital-Restrictions-Management provision of GPL version three
and it actually doesn't talk about Digital Restrictions Management, it
just prohibits tivoisation, so yes, you I can put Digital Restrictions
Management in the software and provide it to you, but you can take out
the DRM.
<p class="indent">
Well, that's not the only thing we do to prevent DRM, there are a few
other things. We're actually preventing DRM from being imposed on you
such that you can't actually change the software to take it out.
<p id="circumvention-not-prohibited">[section: Malicious DRM part 2,
grant of permission to access generated data]</p>
<p class="indent">
One is, when a GPL covered program is used to produce encrypted data,
then, the GPL says that they have given you permission to write your
own software to read that data because some countries have a very
nasty law - of course, you can guess which country was the first - a
law that actually prohibits software that enables people to bypass the
restrictions of DRM. If somebody had released a work that is designed
for digital restrictions, and somebody else releases a program that
can access the work without restrictions, that second program is
illegal - in my country, and in Europe, and about fifty countries
who've signed a treaty whose sole purpose is to restrict their own
<p class="indent">
So, GPL says if the first program, the one that makes these works
restricted with DRM is GPL-covered, then that gives everybody
permission to release other GPL-covered programs to read the same
works. In other words, they cannot take advantage of those laws to
forbid the other programs.
<p class="indent">
Once again, we're not prohibiting people from changing the software to
do DRM, it's only stopping them from prohibiting other from releasing
software they want to use and making the software they want to make.
<p class="indent">
Also, if the GPL'd program produces output for DRM or communicates
through a protocol which imposes Digital Restrictions Management, they
must give you the necessary codes to write the other side, an
authorised server. So, essentially we've tried to cover all the
bases. Any way that they can try to use a GPL covered program in such
that way that block you or forbid you to change it or write the other
software that works with it, that's not allowed. They have to respect
your right to change the software and write other interoperable
<p class="indent">
So, that's how we deal with DRM. Mostly by not dealing with it at
all, we just guarantee your freedom so that the people whose goal it
is to take away your freedom cannot succeed.
<p id="software-patents-grant">[section: Second main change: software
patents part 1, explicit patent grant]</p>
<p class="indent">
The next major area is that of software patents. Now, we took care of
the most direct issue in version two with the "Liberty or Death"
clause. What we've done with version three is a few secondary things.
<p class="indent">
First of all, in GPL version two we rely on an implicit patent
licence. The issue is: what if the company who distributed the GPL
covered program has a patent that applies to something in the program?
and what if they say "We'll distribute this to you under the GPL but
if you try to use the rights that the GPL gives you, we'll sue you for
patent infringement"?
<p class="indent">
In the US they can't. In the US, by distributing the program to you
under the GPL they're saying they have no objectins if you carry out
your rights under the GPL, so if they then try to sue you for doing
so, they will lose. However, this isn't necessarily true in other
countries. Some other Free Software licences in the past several
years have had explicit patent licence grants and we decided to follow
them. We're putting in an explicit patent license grant which says,
more or less, what US law would do implicitly.
<p class="indent">
But then there's another peculiar case. What if someone distributes
the software to you under the GPL and he has a patent licence saying
that nobody is going to sue him, that the patent holder will not sue
him when he distributes the software, but you, when you distribute the
software might be sued by the same patent holder. In fact we could
imagine that the patent holder is going around threatening everybody
all the time.
<p class="indent">
That would be a bad thing because it would mean that the freedoms
might not be really there. This one distributor gets to enjoy the
freedoms and he's supposed to respect your freedom but he could be
taking advantage of the fact that the patent holder will sue you if
you try. So it's sort of a collusion between these two companies to
make your freedom a sham. So GPL version three says that if he is
knowingly relying on a patent licence for his own right to distribute
this, without getting sued for patent infringement, he must make sure
that you are protected too. He has to negotiate his license so that
it includes everything that's implied by his releasing of his version
which includes your changing the program and your releasing and so on.
<p class="indent">
However, there's a subtlety here. The big companies have made blanket
cross-licences. IBM and Microsoft surely have a blanket patent cross
licence for all the patents they have and will ever have, and IBM
doesn't even know what the Microsoft patents cover and IBM has one of
these with every other big company that's involved closely with
computers or software.
<p class="indent">
So IBM has patent licences for loads of things that they don't know.
So the result is that they could have a patent license that makes them
safe and they don't know it. So, we said that it's not fair to put
them in a worse position than you would be in just because they have a
blanket cross-licence and somebody else is explicitly negotiating a
licence, so we said, alright, it will only apply if you knowingly rely
on a patent licence. So if IBM has a patent licence as part of a
blanket cross-licence and doesn't know, then this doesn't apply to
them, but if they find out that this problem is happening and they
have a patent licence, then they have to do something. IBM doesn't
seem to like this very much.
<p id="software-patents-retaliation">[section: Software patents part
2, narrow retaliation]</p>
<p class="indent">
Anyway. There is one little bit more about dealing with software
patents. We're concerned about the case where somebody modifies a GPL
covered program and has a patent covering the modifications and never
releases [the program]. If he releases it, he will be giving the
patent licence grant to all the users. So there'll be no problem, so
what if he never releases the program, he just runs it on his
<p class="indent">
Then he's not giving the patent licence grant to anybody. So he might
say "I modified this GPL covered program to do this job, and if you
write your own program to do this job, you write your own code to do
this job, I'll sue you for patent infringement". So, you may say that
at that point, he loses his rights to make more copies and to modify
the program and so on. So basically, for business purposes, his uses
will be untenable. And this way, we protect against that threat.
<p class="indent">
Now, there are many other Free Software licences that have some other
software patent retaliation clause. Some of them are designed to
retaliate only against aggression. Some of them, in licences that
were written for one company, sometimes retaliated for any suits
against that company. That's not a good thing. Suppose, for
instance, that Company A releases a program that says the licence
terminates if you sue Company A for patent infringement. Well that
might seem reasonable since suing anyone for software patent
infringement is a bad thing, but suppose Company A has a lot of
patents and it goes around suing others, so suppose Company A sues
Company B for patent infringement. What Company B wants to do then is
to sue Company A is the aggressor and Company B is retaliating, so
when B retaliates, B loses her right to use that program because the
program licence says if you sue Company A you lose the right to use
this program. So what this means is that it is retaliating for
retaliation, so it's actually supporting aggression by Company A.
<p class="indent">
Anyway, we looked at these various kinds of software patent
retaliation clauses and we decided that we didn't want to put any of
them in the GNU GPL, except the one that I described for you five
minutes ago. The very limited one in the case where somebody makes
patented changes and doesn't release them. But, there is a way that
other patent retaliation clauses can get into programs covered by GNU
GPL version three and this brings us to the third main area of changes
which is increased compatibility with other licences.
<p id="licence-compatibility">[section: Third main change: licence
<p class="indent">
First of all: what does compatibility mean?
<p class="indent">
Suppose we have two or three programs and each one has its own licence
and you would like to merge them or link them together. Can you do
that? Well, each of these licences might make a condition about the
licence of the combination. So, the question is: is there anyway you
can satisfy both of these licences at once? If there is, then the
licences are compatible, you can make a combination because there is a
way to licence the combination that satisfies both of these licences.
<p class="indent">
But if there's no way to licence the combination so as to satisfy both
of these requirements together, the combination can't be released.
That means the licences are incompatible.
<p class="indent">
Now, licence incompatibility is a fact of life. There have always
been incompatible Free Software licences. I'd say the most glaring
kind of incompatibility concerns the licence of TeX, which is
incompatible with itself.
<p class="indent">
If you have two programs that are released under the licence of Tex,
you can't merge them at all. The reason is that the licence of Tex
says that the only way you can distribute a changed version is by
distributing the original version plus a change file - a patch file.
<p class="indent">
So think about it, you have these two programs both released that way
and you want to merge them. How will you distribute the merged
version. How will you distribute the merged version? Well, this
program says you have to distribute this program plus the change file,
but this [other] program says it has to be this particular program
plus a change file. It can't be both at once, so the licence of TeX
is incompatible with itself.
<p class="indent">
The GNU GPL is a copyleft licence. The idea of copyleft is, the
licence says when you release a modified version it has to be under
this exact same licence. The result is that, generally, two different
copyleft licences are incompatible. Each one says the modified
version has to be under this license, the other one says, no, the
modified version has to be under this licence. If the two licences
are different, the modified version can't be under both at once. If
it's under this one, it's not under [the other] one.
<p class="indent">
So, two different copyleft licences, generally, are incompatible. But
in GPL version three we tried a technique that we thought of to make
GPL version three compatible with more licences. Now, GPL version
three is compatible with some licences. Namely, simple permissive
licences. Things like the X11 licence, the revised BSD licence, and
several other important Free Software licences are simple, permissive
Free Software licences.
<p class="indent">
Now, the reason they're compatible with GPL is because they don't make
any requirement which is inconsistent with the GPL. You can take the
GPL and put it on top of those licences and those licences don't
object, because they're very permissive.
<p class="indent">
And there's another class of licences which are compatible with GPL
version two, these are the disjunctive dual licences. The typical
example is the licence of PERL. It says "you can use this under the
GNU GPL or the Artistic licence". This is a disjunction between two
licences. A or B. And because the GNU GPL is one option, the licence
of PERL is compatible with the GNU GPL.
<p class="indent">
So, some other Free Software licences are compatible with the GPL
version two. There are many that are not because they have other
requirements that are not in the GPL and since the GPL version two
does not allow adding any requirements whatsoever, any licence that
contains any other requirement that is not in GNU GPL version two is
incompatible with GNU GPL version two.
<p class="indent">
So, what we have done in the draft of GPL version three is we have
said there is specific list of certain kinds of requirements that you
can add. And these include some rather trivial requirements that we
think you could add anyway, like saying "my licence must be
preserved", "my copyright notice must be preserved", that does no
harm. And terms like, "you have indicate somehow that it's a modified
version". GPL has always required you indicated modified versions but
it does so in one particular way. But you could add code with a
different requirement for noting modifications and GPL version three
says it's compatible. It accepts that.
<p class="indent">
And, another particular kind of requirement is patent retaliation
clauses. Within a certain range, those that are not subject to abuse,
we had to work very carefully to design a description of those patent
retaliation requirements that do not support aggression, and those are
the ones we permit.
<p class="indent">
And finally, we permit the "Affero" requirement. The Affero
requirement is found in the Affero General Public Licence, the Affero
GPL. The Affero GPL is like GNU GPL version two but it has one other
requirement, and that is, if you put the program on a publicly
accessible website, you have to release the source code of your
<p class="indent">
This is a requirement about public use of a program. So, that's one
kind of requirement that can be added. It's not in GPL version three
itself but it can be added.
<p id="limits-of-requirements">[section: How the addable requirements
are limited]</p>
<p class="indent">
Let me make something clear. You can't
just take existing GPL version three code and add additional
requirements. What you can do is write your own code with these
requirements placed by you on your own code, or merge in somebody
else's code which has these requirements placed by him on his code,
and when it's merged in, these requirements remain only on the code
that they were applied to. So they don't actually spread to the rest
of the program. If you're using the whole program, of course it
includes that part, so you have to follow the requirements for that
part. But they stay on that part, so if you delete that part
[From here onward, battery and memory limitations prevent the
recording from being complete]
<h2>Questions and Answers session</h2>
<p id="q10-gfdl">
Q1: Is GPLv3 useful for documentation and/or compatible
with the GNU Free Documentation Licence?
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: The two licences are incompatible, but they're just
wholly incompatible. They're two very different copyleft licences and
two different copyleft licences are always going to be incompatible.
The GNU GPL has requirements that are extremely inconvenient for
anyone who wants to publish printed books such as manuals. So, it's
not a good idea to use the GNU GPL for a manual. So, I developed a
different licence for manuals, a licence which I developed
specifically with the idea of encouraging commercial companies to use
it for their manuals. I put in certain features that I hoped would
make it easier to make a profit selling these copylefted manuals and
another special feature which is supposed to make it more comfortable
to release a standards document under this licence.
<p class="indent">
There's a special kind of section called the "endorsements" section
which can say "This is the official Foobar standard" and anyone who
makes a modified version of the document has to delete that section,
so it will not say that this is an official version of the standard.
<p class="indent">
And you can put that together with an invariant section saying "if you
don't see a section saying this is the official version of the
standard, then it is not". And so, if your goal is to make sure
everyone knows whether your book contains the official version of the
standard, this will do it. Now it's sad that most standards
organisations real goal in publishing their standards is to make money
from them, so they refuse to cooperate at all, but we want it to be
possible for them to cooperate so that when we pressure them to
cooperate, we need to make it practical for them to cooperate, and the
GNU Free Documentation Licence does.
<p class="indent">
So these things are incompatible with the GPL.
<p id="q20-affero">
Q2: It seems the Affero clause is clearly designed to protect people
who use software through their browser...
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: No that's not true, but continue. That was not our
intention. I'll explain but we'll take a look at your question and
then I'll explain.
Q2b: Ok, my question which may be based on false premises, is: why was
the decision made to keep the Affero clause as an option?
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: We don't want make that kind of change in the
licence of all the existing GPL covered programs. Some people don't
want that. We were considering putting this feature in the GPL but we
decided it would only be active if the program did something to
activate it. And then I realised that if you want to consider ways to
activate it, this way is just as good as any.
<p class="indent">
Anyway, this is not really a matter of protecting a user who does
things through a browser. It's not about that actually, it's about
Person A writes a GPL covered program for use on websites, and
releases it, and Someone B makes improvements and runs them on his
website and doesn't release them and sees no reason to ever release
them because he instead he just sells the right to use it through his
website. Then, developer A finds that he's working at a disadvantage.
Every time he makes changes, B can get them, but every time B makes
changes, A cannot get them. So, this way, if A releases under the
Affero GPL then B has to publish his changes because he's providing
public access use.
<p class="indent">
So that gets rid of the problem.
<p class="indent">
Now, the issue you brought up is a real issue, but it's a different
kind of issue. You see, we try to make sure that you have freedom to
change and redistribute and run the program as you wish, but that has
to be your copy. Obviously we don't want to give you the freedom to
change someone else's copy because he's the one that's supposed to
have control over his copy, so to have these freedoms you've got to
have your own copy. In fact, this is not just a matter of what the
GPL says, it's a fact of life, it can't be avoided. If you don't have
your own copy of the program, you don't have control. Someone else
can hold your copy for you, you might use a timesharing service, and
[The recording is interrupted again]
<p id="q30-cooperating-with-osi">
Q3: [Unrecorded, but the question was about cooperation
with Open Source Initiative]
<p class="indent">
The Free Software movement, which I founded in 1983 focuses on
freedom and community, on human rights for software users. "Open
source" was founded in 1998 as a way to stop talking about those
things. To hush them up, to bury them, put them out of people's
sight. So they talk about practical advantages that come from using
the software. Well, I also talk about practical advantages in my
speeches. So here's what I say [Stallman outlines a large circle with
his hands], and here's what they say [Stallman outlines a smaller
circle within the first circle] - except that they go into more depth
on it, and that is useful, y'know. Making the case to businesses that
they will get some practical advantage out of releasing their software
under, usually, a Free Software licence, that's useful, but the point
is it's still a more superficial part of the issue.
<p class="indent">
So they still say they want to cooperate, and they wish we would
cooperate by forgetting what we consider the most important thing and
joining them in saying only the superficial part. This is the way
Eric Raymond puts it, he's very clever at asking us to abandon the
most important thing and making it sound like he's only being
<p id="q40-creative-commons">
Q4: [inaudible but he mentions "the creative common licence"]
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: There is none.
Q4b: There isn't?
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: There is no such thing as "the Creative Commons
Q4c: Not for software
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: There is no such thing.
<p class="indent">
And the reason I'm responding in this way is that this error is
extremely common
[The recording is interrupted again, Stallman goes on to explain that
there are many Creative Commons licences, and some are free and some
are not free, so the "Creative Commons" label does not indicate
anything meaningful in relation to freedom.]
<p id="q50-osi-responds">
Q5, by Michael Tiemann, President of Open Source Initiative: About a
question you were asked earlier about Eric Raymond, I want to point
out a fact which is that while Eric Raymond was formerly the president
of OSI, he no longer is.
Eric, does speak for himself, but less and less for the OSI. I would
also like to clarify that as president of OSI, I have always supported
the GPL as the model licence for developers. The licence is the only
licence I have released work under aside from the LGPL for my own
I recognise your position, which is to say that if I am not talking
about freedom, first and foremost, then I am burying it, but I think
of it myself differently...
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: Well, you might be doing something in between.
There are things in between. When Eric Raymond was president of OSI,
I could perceive his intention to bury talk of freedom very clearly.
And there are others who talk about "open source" who clearly are
trying to bury software freedom. That doesn't imply that everyone who
uses the term... what is true about their use of the term is that it
generally doesn't call attention to freedom very much.
Q5b, Michael Tiemann: Well, at this conference I do want to support
that what you are doing is incredibly valuable and I respect that, and
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: Thank you.
<p id="q60-translations">
Q6: [barely audible, the question is about making official
translations of the GPL, and the audience member advocates FSF making
official translations because otherwise the courts will have to make
their own translations which may be done with less care.]
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: The danger with an official translation is, if we
make a mistake, it could be an absolute disaster.
<p class="indent">
... and we can't read Portuguese. I can't and Eben Moglen can't. And
even if we could, that doesn't mean that either of us would understand
it as a lawyer. You see, if I work with him when writing GPL version
three in English and I can say "well, here's what I think I want" ask
him to tell me if it really does what I think it does.
<p class="indent">
Working like that in foreign languages would be much harder, so
producing a translation of the GPL in any other language would be much
harder than what we've already done and I can't trust this. I don't
know who I can trust this to do. I know lawyers in various country
who strongly support the Free Software movement, but to entrust this
to them is a so much... especially when a mistake can destroy things
world wide.
<p class="indent">
Now, I considered the idea that maybe we'd have translations that
would be limited to one country. At least that puts certain amount of
bounds on the amount of disaster that a mistake would cause.
<p class="indent">
Another thing I imagined - I just had this idea today - I don't know
whether it's a good idea, we could make translations and say "this
translation is only valid for one year unless it's renewed or replaced
by another more accurate translation". We can't do that with the GPL
itself. If we could change the GPL and force people to switch to a
new version of the GPL, we could take away their freedoms, but the
English version of the GPL does not work that way. Once you get a
program under version X of the GPL, you can always use it under
version X of the GPL forever. So, as long as that remains true, maybe
it's ok if the translations can be revised, so that if there is a bad
mistake in a translation, maybe we can fix it. I don't know if this
is really acceptable. I have this argument which I can argue that
it's acceptable because the real English version will not be
revokable, but I'm not convinced this argument is strong enough. I'll
have to talk to people about it.
Q6b: That's easy for you because you live in an English
speaking country, but in Brazil where there is a different language
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: I agree with you but that's not the point. The
reasons why it would be good to have translations are obvious. The
point is: can we get rid of the danger?
<p class="indent">
So this idea that I had today might be an acceptable way to get rid of
the danger, and if so, we'll have translations.
<p id="q70-fragments">
Q7: [inaudible]
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: ...and if some program in the set allows
Tivoisation, then they can Tivoise, so if enough important programs
move to GPL version three, Tivoisation will be practically speaking
not feasible.
<p class="indent">
Of course, this depends on these programs moving to GPL version
Q7b: [inaudible]
<p class="indent">
Richard Stallman: Ah, no, but the point is that those things will be
rather old, and at some point it's just not useful to use them
anymore. They're not a reasonable option because the code has been
released so long
[The recording gives up]
<h2 id="links">Getting more information</h2>
<li>FSFE: <a href="gplv3.html">FSF Europe's GPLv3 project page</a></li>
<li>FSF: <a href="">The GPLv3 website</a></li>
<li>FSF: <a href="">The current draft of GPLv3</a></li>
transcript of the opening session of the first international GPLv3
conference</a> (Eben Moglen discusses the changes made to the
<li><a href="">A transcript of
Richard Stallman's GPLv3 talk from FOSDEM 2006</a></li>
<li><a href="torino-rms-transcript.html">A transcript of
Richard Stallman's GPLv3 talk from Torino</a></li>
<li>FSF: <a href="">The page
on the official GPLv3 wiki listing transcripts and similar texts</a></li>
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