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<title>GPLv3 - Transcript of Richard Stallman from the fifth
international GPLv3 conference, Tokyo, Japan; 2006-11-21</title>
<div class="image right">
<a href="gplv3.html"><img src="/graphics/gplv3-logo-red.png" alt="GPLv3 logo" /></a>
<h1>Transcript of Richard Stallman at the 5th international
GPLv3 conference; 21st November 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>.
The following is a transcript of Richard Stallman's presentation
made at the <a href="">fifth international
GPLv3 conference</a>, organised by FSIJ and AIST in Tokyo, Japan.
From the same event, there is also
a <a href="tokyo-ciaran-transcript">transcript Ciaran O'Riordan's
<!-- <p>Video and audio recordings are available:</p> -->
<!-- <ul> -->
<!-- <li>Audio: <a href=""></a></li> -->
<!-- <li>Video: <a href=""></a></li> -->
<!-- </ul> -->
<p>Transcription of this presentation was undertaken
by Ciarán O'Riordan.
Please support work such as this by <a href="/help/donate">donating
to FSFE</a>, joining <a href="">the Fellowship
of FSFE</a>, and by encouraging others to do so.</p>
<p>The speech was made in English. See also:</p>
- all recordings from the event</li>
recording of Richard Stallman's talk</a></li>
<h2>Presentation sections</h2>
<li><a href="#why-update">Why does the licence need updating?</a></li>
<li><a href="#v1v2">About versions 1 and 2</a></li>
<li><a href="#internationalisation">Internationalisation</a></li>
<li><a href="#compatibility">Licence compatibility</a></li>
<li><a href="#tivoisation">Preventing tivoisation</a></li>
<li><a href="#tc1">Tivoisation and Treacherous Computing</a></li>
<li><a href="#tc2">General comments on Treacherous Computing</a></li>
<li><a href="#patents">Software patents</a></li>
<li><a href="#novell-ms">The Novell and Microsoft example</a></li>
<li><a href="#net-distribution">Internet distribution instead of mail order</a></li>
<li><a href="#termination">Licence termination</a></li>
<li><a href="#patent-retaliation">Narrow patent retaliation</a></li>
<li><a href="#dmca-eucd">Undermining the DMCA and EUCD</a></li>
<li><a href="#q1">Q1: What are the differences between open source and Free Software?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q2">Q2: How is copyright law affected by Disney and Creative Commons?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q3">Q3: Should Free Software include copyright notices?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q4">Q4: What about patents owned by children?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q5">Q5: Can you further explain the cure clause idea?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q6">Q6: What if someone sets up companies in a cycle?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q7">Q7: &quot;Use freely&quot; has another meaning regarding patents...</a></li>
<li><a href="#q8">Q8: What other movements is the Free Software movement similar to?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q9">Q9: What about open source licences?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q10">Q10: Will there be Free Software licences that are GPLv3-incompatible?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q11">Q11: Will FSF make further variants of the GPL, like the LGPL is?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q12">Q12: What's happening with the GFDL and GSFDL?</a></li>
<li><a href="#q13">Q13: Does using a GPL'd font constitute linking?</a></li>
<h2>The presentation</h2>
<span id="why-update">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Why does the licence need updating?]</span>
<p class="indent">
Welcome to our event. Since you've already heard from Niibe all the
basic things that I would usually talk about in my speeches, I'm going
to start right in on GPL version three.
<p class="indent">
GPL version two was developed in 1991. The community was very
different then. It was much smaller. There were probably hundreds of
Free Software packages instead of tens of thousands. And there was no
free operating system.
<p class="indent">
As a result, the amount of pressure that people who were effectively
our adversaries and wanted to cheat were placing on us and placing on
our licences was much less. Since that time, Free Software has become
far more popular with tens of millions of users.
<p class="indent">
There are two basically free operating systems: GNU/Linux and BSD.
Unfortunately, nearly all the versions that people use include
non-Free Software, but basically they are free systems.
<p class="indent">
And there are now many companies that are looking for loopholes,
trying to defeat the goal of the GNU GPL which is to ensure all users
freedom. The reason I wrote the GNU GPL was to make sure that when I
release a program as Free Software, all of you get the four freedoms.
<p class="indent">
So the point is, I wont be satisfied if only the users who get the
program from me have freedom. I want to make sure that no matter how
the program reaches you, whether it has been changed or not, all of
you get freedom. The basic idea of the GNU GPL is to establish the
four freedoms as inalienable rights, that is, rights that nobody can
lose, except through wrong doing. You can't sell them. We're not
going to have any selling yourself into slavery in our community of
<span id="v1v2">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: About
versions 1 and 2]</span>
<p class="indent">
Back in 1991, we had seen two ways of trying to make software
non-free. One was to release only a binary and not let users have the
source code. And the other was to place restrictive licence
conditions on it. These had been seen in the 1980s, so even the
earliest GNU licences were designed to prevent that kind of abuse.
They required distribution of source code and they say you can't add
any other licence terms. You must pass on the program, including any
changes of yours, under the exact same licence under which you got it.
[Time: 237 secs]
<p class="indent">
Around 1990, I found out
about <a href="">the
danger of software patents</a>. So in GPL version 2, we developed the
section that we called &quot;liberty or death for the program&quot;,
although informally, because in GPL version 2 the sections don't have
titles. This said that if you agree to any sort of patent licence
that would limit the rights that your users would get, then you
couldn't distribute the program at all.
<p class="indent">
Now, what's the logic here? The idea is that patent holders would try
to corrupt individual distributors of Free Software, trying to get
them to sign specific deals to pay for permission to do so, and
therefore we faced the danger that patent holders would divide our
community and that this would make our community weak.
<p class="indent">
In a country that is stupid enough to allow software patents, which
I'm sad to say includes your country [Japan] and includes my country
[USA], there's nothing we can do to prevent the danger that patent
holders will use their patents to destroy Free Software, to drive it
<p class="indent">
But, there's an even worse thing they might be able to do, and that is
make the software effectively non-free. If they could create a
situation where individual users or individual distributors pay for
permission, the software is effectively non-free. The decision I made
was that we would try to prevent that danger. That danger is worse
for two reasons. First, because a proprietary program which takes
away a users' freedom is worse than no program at all. And second
because that offers the patent holder a way to make money and would be
more tempting than merely to cause destruction.
<p class="indent">
So, Section 7 of GPL version 2 was designed to prevent that. And that
was the main change in GPL version 2. However, today we've seen
several more kinds of threats, as well as other issues that call for
changes. The basic idea of GPL version 3 is unchanged: to protect the
four freedoms for all users, but the details have to adapt to today's
<p class="indent">
This means that the changes in GPL version 3 do not have any common
theme. They're all addressed to details, to specifics. Some very
important, some secondary, but every change is in some specific
detail because there's no change in the spirit.
<p class="indent">
So let me go through the most important of these changes.
<span id="internationalisation">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Internationalisation]</span>
<p class="indent">
One of them is better internationalisation. I developed the earlier
versions of the GPL working with a lawyer, but this lawyer was not an
expert on the laws of other countries. We simply based our inputs on
knowing that copyright law is mostly similar around the World.
However, now we've made a large effort to consult lawyers from various
different countries, to make sure that we will get similar results in
all countries. To make this happen, we have eliminated certain words
such as &quot;distribute&quot;, from the GPL version 3. It turns out
that various countries have different definitions for the word
&quot;distribute&quot;. So we have tried to avoid that word. We
coined a couple of new terms, in order to express ourselves better.
<p class="indent">
For instance, there's the term &quot;propagate&quot; which loosely
means copying, but we've given it a precise definition that is meant
to buffer it against variations in copyright law between countries.
Another term called &quot;convey&quot; which loosely means
distributing copies, but again, we've defined it in a way buffers it
against international variations. So the bulk of the GPL gives
conditions for propagating and conveying the program.
<span id="compatibility">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Licence compatibility]</span>
<p class="indent">
Another area of change has to do with compatibility with other
licences. Back in the early 90s, there were only a few different Free
Software licences, and the ones people generally used were either the
GNU GPL, or simple permissive licences like the X11 licence and the
original BSD licence. The X11 licence was compatible with the GPL.
You could merge code with the GPL version 1 or 2 with code under the
X11 licence. The original BSD licence is incompatible because of the
obnoxious advertising clause, but in the 90s we convinced the
University of California to relicense all of BSD under the revised BSD
licence, which gets rid of the advertising clause, and that is
compatible with GPL version 2.
<p class="indent">
By the way, you should never use the term &quot;BSD-style licensing&quot;
because of the ambiguity. The difference between these two licences
is quite important. One is compatible with the GPL and the other is
not. It's very important to call people's attention to the difference
between those two licences. However, starting in 1999 I believe, with
Mozilla, many other Free Software licences have been developed, most
of which are not compatible with the GPL. GPL version 3 is designed
to be compatible with two important licences: the Apache licence and
the Eclipse licence. It will be possible to merge code under those
licences into GPL3 covered software once the GPL version 3 is really
[Time: 752 secs]
<p class="indent">
And while we were at it, we decided to formalise and clearly explain
what it means to give additional permission as a special exception.
That's a practice that we have been doing for many years. The simple
library that comes with GCC that does very low level tasks, supporting
certain language constructs, has a special exception on it saying
basically that you can link it into almost anything. But there was
some confusion about what it means to have such an exception so we
decided to spell it out, to make it clear that when you give
additional permission, people can remove that additional permission,
because really what you have done is you have made two separate
statements: (A) you can distribute this under the GPL, and (B) I also
give you permission for this and that. It follows that anyone who is
redistributing that software or distributing modified versions can
pass it along under the GPL or he can reconfirm the other permission,
or he can do both. So, if the other permission just says you can do
one little extra thing, it makes no sense by itself. That would be
useless. So basically, you've got to keep the GPL, but you either
keep the added provision or not. So in GPL version 3 this is spelled
<p class="indent">
We also explain that there are a few kinds of additional requirements
that can appear on code that gets included or merged into the GPL
covered program. Now, some of these are not new. There are essential
trivial requirements in the X11 licence and the revised BSD licence,
and because they're trivial, our interpretation is that there is no
conflict with the GPL, but we decided to make that completely
explicit. But in addition, there are some substantive requirements
that are not in the GPL that we will now allow to be added. This is
how we achieve compatibility with the Apache licence and the Eclipse
licence. After all, the reason they are incompatible with GPL version
2 is that they have requirements that are not in GPL version 2. Those
requirements are not part of GPL version 3 either, but GPL version 3
explicitly says that you are allowed to add those kinds of
requirements. That is how GPLv3 will be compatible with those
licences, because it specifically permits a limited set of additional
requirements which include the requirements in those licences.
[Time: 986 secs]
<p class="indent">
While we were doing this we decided to try to put an end to a misuse of
the GPL. You may occasionally see a program which says &quot;This program
is released under the GNU GPL but you're not allowed to use it
commercially&quot;, or some other attempt to add another requirement.
That's actually self-contradictory and its meaning is ambiguous, so
nobody can be sure what will happen if a judge looks at that. After
all, GPL version 2 says you can release a modified version under GPL
version 2. So if you take this program with its inconsistent licence
and you release a modified version, what licence are you supposed to
use? You could argue for two different possibilities.
<p class="indent">
We can't stop people making their software under licences that are
more restrictive than the GPL, we can't stop them from releasing
non-Free Software, but we can try to prevent them from doing so in a
misleading and self-contradictory way, after all, when the program
says GPL version 2 but you can't use it commercially, that's not
really released under GPL version 2, and it's not Free Software, and
if you tried to combine that with code that really is released under
GPL version 2, you would be violating GPL2. Because this inconsistent
licence starts out by saying &quot;GPL version 2&quot;, people are
very likely to be mislead. They may think it's available under GPL
version 2, they may think they're allowed to combine these modules.
We want to get rid of this confusing practice. And therefore we've
stated that if you see a problem that states GPL version 3 as its
licence, but has additional requirements not explicitly permitted in
section 7 then you're entitled to remove them. We hope that this will
convince the people that want to use more restrictive licences that
they should do it in an unambiguous way. That is, they should take
the text, edit it, and make their own licence, which might be free or
might not, depending on the details, but at least it won't be the GNU
GPL, so people won't get confused.
[Time: 1169 secs]
<span id="tivoisation">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Preventing tivoisation]</span>
<p class="indent">
Another major change is a response to a new method of trying to
deprive the users of freedom. In broad terms we refer to this as
tivoisation. It's the practice of designing hardware so that a
modified version cannot function properly. Now, I do not mean by this
the fact that when you modify it you might break it. Of course that's
true. But of course you also might modify it carefully and avoid
making a mistake and then you have not broken the program, you would
expect it to function. But tivoised machines will not allow any
modified version to function correctly even if you have done your
modification properly.
<p class="indent">
For instance, the Tivo itself is the prototype of tivoisation. The
Tivo contains a small GNU/Linux operating system, thus, several
programs under the GNU GPL. And, as far as I know, the Tivo company
does obey GPL version 2. They provide the users with source code and
the users can then modify it and compile it and then install it in the
Tivo. That's where the trouble begins because the Tivo will not run
modified versions, the Tivo contains hardware designed to detect that
the software has been changed and shuts down. So, regardless of the
details of your modification, your modified version will not run in
your Tivo.
<span id="tc1">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Tivoisation and Treacherous Computing]</span>
<p class="indent">
This is the basic method of tivoisation but there are more subtle
methods which involve Treacherous Computing. Treacherous Computing is
the term we use to describe a practice of designing people's computers
so that the users can't control them. In fact, the perpetrators of
this scheme don't want you to have real computers. What is a
computer, after all? A computer is a universal programmable machine,
one that can be programmed to carry out any computation, but those
machines are designed so that there are computations you can't make
them do. They're designed not to be real computers. Specifically,
they are designed so that data or websites can be set up to
communicate only with particular software and set up to make it
impossible for any other program to communicate with that data or
those websites.
[Time: 1403 secs]
<p class="indent">
One of the ways this works is through remote attestation. The idea is
that a website will be able to check what software is running on your
computer, and if you have changed anything, the website will refuse to
talk to your computer. In other words, you can make modified
software, you can install it on your computer, but, that modified
software is forbidden even to try to communicate with the website in
the same way that the other version would do.
<p class="indent">
Microsoft has been working on a scheme for years, which might be part
of Windows Vista, which involves encrypting files in such a way that
only a particular program can possibly decrypt them. Even if you know
the algorithm, the hardware is supposed to make it impossible for you
to write another program that will decrypt those files.
<p class="indent">
Thus, once again, you might be allowed in theory to modify the
program, but in practice you would have no chance in making a modified
version that can even try to operate on the same data as the version
you got.
<p class="indent">
These are all ways of effectively making our software non-free. GPL
version 3 is designed to block them all. The requirement is that
users must be able to get whatever is necessary so that they can
authorise their modified versions to function in the same machine such
that they can succeed in operating on the same data, and talking to
the same networks.
[Time: 1550 secs]
<p class="indent">
In the current discussion draft this is done by defining those
materials as part of the corresponding source, however, we've decided
to move that into section 6 which authorises distribution of
binaries. And instead of calling those materials part of the source,
we'll simply state that making them available is a condition for
permission to distribute the binaries.
<span id="tc2">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: General comments on Treacherous Computing]</span>
<p class="indent">
Treacherous Computing is an instance of a very dangerous phenomenon,
namely a conspiracy of companies to restrict the public - to restrict
the public's access to technology. Such conspiracies ought to be a
crime. The executives of those companies should be tried, and if
convicted, sent to prison for conspiring to restrict the public's
access to technology. However, that sort of policy would have
required leaders that believe in government of the people, by the
people, for the people. What we have today is government of the
people, by the flunkies, for the corporations.
<p class="indent">
Far from trying to protect us from such conspiracies, our governments
today show how undemocratic they are by supporting the companies
against us, supporting the conspiracies against us. Laws that
prohibit circumvention of these conspiracies essentially deputise the
conspiracies as police men, giving them power over the citizens.
Every government that supports such a law shows that it is on the side
of publishers, on the side of Hollywood, on the side of the record
companies, against its own citizens. It has become an arm of
<p class="indent">
Nonetheless, we are going to fight against tivoisation and Treacherous
Computing with all of our abilities.
<span id="patents">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Software patents]</span>
<p class="indent">
Another threat to Free Software is from software patents. GPL2's
section 7, which is now section 12, deals with one of these threats:
the threat of a distributor signing a contract that gives it the
patent licence for the software but in a limited way.
<p class="indent">
A few years ago, I realised that there were other ways software
patents might be used to make software non-free, so we're designing
GPL version 3 to block them too. For instance, one issue is, what if
the developer of the software has a patent on it, or rather, has a
patent on some particular computational technique used in the
program. I made a terrible mistake when I said &quot;has a patent on the
program&quot;, that's not how patents work. I know better, and yet I still
made this mistake. There's no such thing as a patent on a program,
software patents don't work that way. Every software patent is a
monopoly on a certain kind of technical functionality or method. A
program violates the patent if anywhere inside the program it
implements that method or that functionality. The result is that one
program can infringe any number of patents at the same time.
<p class="indent">
[See note hereafter] Two years ago, a thorough study found that the kernel
Linux infringed 283 different software patents, and that's just in the US. Of
course, by now the number is probably different and might be higher.
<span style="font-weight: bold;">NOTE from Richard Stallman:</span> I made
a mistake when I said Linux infringes 283 software patents. In fact,
Ravicher's study found 283 US software patents that look like they might
prohibit part of the code of Linux. Whether those patents are actually
valid, nobody knows.
Linux is one of many large programs in the GNU/Linux system. Many
other programs, free or not, are also large, and large programs
generally combine thousands of ideas.
I expect that a similar study of any large program, free or
non-free, whether written by me or by Microsoft or anyone else,
would similarly find hundreds of patents that threaten to prohibit
it. In other words, with software patents, every developer of
large programs faces many threats. The solution is: don't allow
software patents.
<span style="font-weight: bold;">END OF NOTE</span>
[Time: 1885 secs]
<p class="indent">
That is the only example of this kind of study, as far as I know. But
probably any large program infringes hundreds of different patents at
once. What if a distributor of the program has a patent on some
computation inside the program and distributes the program to others,
and when they try to redistribute, the patent holder says &quot;We're going
to sue you for patent infringement if you try&quot;. We didn't think this
was an issue because in the US, when that company distributes the
software under the GPL, they're telling people &quot;We have no objections
if you do what the GPL says you can do&quot; and so if they tried to sue
those same people for patent infringement later, they would lose.
<p class="indent">
However, we found out that this is not true all around the World. So
GPL version 3 carries an explicit patent licence which is following
the lead of the Mozilla Public License. I think that was the first
one which contained an explicit patent licence. Basically, all this
says is that none of the people who distributed the program on it's
path to reaching you can turn around and sue you for patent
infringement on the patents that covered the code that passed through
their hands.
<p class="indent">
This is not as broad as it could possibly be, but it seems right
because it's pretty much the same as the implicit patent licence that
US law gives people.
<span id="novell-ms">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: The Novell and Microsoft example]</span>
<p class="indent">
However, there's another way of using software patents to threaten the
users which we have just seen an example of. That is, the
Novell-Microsoft deal. What has happened is, Microsoft has not given
Novell a patent licence, and thus, section 7 of GPL version 2 does not
come into play. Instead, Microsoft offered a patent licence that is
rather limited to Novell's customers alone.
<p class="indent">
It turns out that perhaps it's a good thing that Microsoft did this
now, because we discovered that the text we had written for GPL
version 3 would not have blocked this, but it's not too late and we're
going to make sure that when GPL version 3 really comes out it will
block such deals. We were already concerned about possibilities like
this, namely, the possibility that a distributor might receive a
patent licence which did not explicitly impose limits on downstream
recipients but simply failed to protect them.
<p class="indent">
What if one company pays Microsoft for a patent licence where
Microsoft says &quot;Alright, we won't sue you, but we're just not
making any promises about your customers if they redistribute
it&quot;. We had already written a downstream shielding provision
into GPL version 3 saying that if you convey the program, and you are
benefitting from a patent licence that is not available, that does not
extend to the downstream users, then you have to do something to
shield them.
<p class="indent">
This is, it turns out, inadequate in two ways. First of all,
&quot;shielding them&quot; is vague. We're replacing that with a
specific list of methods, and second, once again it assumes that the
distributor has received a patent licence, so the Microsoft/Novell
deal cunningly does not give Novell the patent licence, only Novell's
<p class="indent">
Well, now that we have seen this possibility, we're not going to have
trouble drafting the language that will block it off. We're going to
say not just that if you receive the patent licence, but if you have
arranged any sort of patent licensing that is prejudicial among the
downstream recipients, that that's not allowed. That you have to make
sure that the downstream recipients fully get the freedoms that
they're supposed to have. The precise words, we haven't figured out
yet. That's what Eben Moglen is working on now.
[Time: 2249 secs - end of part I]
<span id="net-distribution">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Internet distribution instead of mail order]</span>
<p class="indent">
So these are the major changes. Some minor changes are also
important. For instance, we've decided to permit distributing
binaries and making the source code available only on the network.
GPL version 2 says if you distribute a binary without source code, you
have to offer the source code by mail order. This was a specific
decision which I made because in 1991, most people's network
connections were too slow for it to be feasible to download large
amounts of source code over the 'net. I believed at the time, and I
still believe that at that time, to allow someone to distribute
binaries, and then to make the source code available only on the 'net
would have made a large number of users completely unable, in
practice, to get the source code.
<p class="indent">
However, now there are services where you can pay a fairly small
amount of money to them, and they will download a CD-ROM's worth of
material and mail it to you anywhere in the World. As a result, I've
concluded that we can make this change.
<span id="termination">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Licence termination]</span>
<p class="indent">
Another important minor change has to do with termination when someone
violates the licence. A GNU/Linux distribution today involves
thousands of programs, and anyone who accidentally violates the
licence, for instance, puts the wrong source code up, has, under GPL
version 2, terminated his licences for everything. At that point, he
has to go to all the copyright holders, and ask for permission to
start distributing again, but that's basically impossible. You could
never find all those developers, especially those who contributed
fifteen years ago.
<p class="indent">
What we've decided to do is that if you stop your violation, then any
given copyright holder has 60 days from that point to complain. This
is a kind of statute of limitations. As long as you're continuing to
violate the licence, any copyright holder is entitled to notify you
you're violating the licence and once he notifies you he has the right
to terminate the licence. But, if you stop violating, then the
copyright holders have only 60 more days to notify you, and if they
don't notify you and sixty days go by with no violations, then you're
<p class="indent">
This means that if you accidentally violate the licence and you fix
it, probably nobody's going to complain to you and 60 days will go by
and you'll be ok. Or if a few copyright holders complain to you, then
you just have to negotiate with them, and say &quot;Look, it was an
accident, I fixed it already and you see I'm trying to do the right
thing, and will you please give me my distribution rights back&quot;, and
they'll almost certainly say yes.
<p class="indent">
We're considering a further change in this direction that would say
that a violation can cure itself if you're a first time violator and
you correct your practices and a certain period of time goes by. We
have to be careful in this though, because it's very important for GPL
enforcement that the developer be able to get a preliminary injunction
to stop distribution. So we're carefully studying the conditions for
doing so in various countries, and if we can put in such a cure
feature in a way that does not harm GPL enforcement then we will
probably do so.
[Time: 308 secs, part II]
<span id="patent-retaliation">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Narrow patent retaliation]</span>
<p class="indent">
Another small change is a limited kind of patent retaliation. We're
concerned with the use of software patents in yet another situation.
There is a common practice where you get a GPL covered program and you
modify it to do exactly what you want, and then you run it. And you
might, say, run it privately in this way and anyone can do this, it's
legitimate. But we're concerned with the danger that the company
which does this might have a patent on some of the techniques that
they put into their modifications, and then they might threaten others
with patent law suits if they try to make similar modifications. So
we put in a carefully designed provision that stops such a company
from making further modifications to their software if they do this,
which would mean that it would become unmaintainable, and thus it
becomes a very risky business practice.
<span id="dmca-eucd">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Undermining the DMCA and EUCD]</span>
<p class="indent">
There's one other change that's worth mentioning, I think. That is
section 3. Section 3 is designed to counter-attack against the laws
where the government supports the conspiracies to restrict the
public. This contains one part which is designed to address the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US, and another part which is
aimed at the European Union Copyright Directive. These two laws do
effectively the same thing, but they are written in different ways,
and you have to take them on in different ways. The method that will
work for the US doesn't work for Europe, and likewise isn't an
inconvenience there, and the method that works for the EU Copyright
Directive won't work for the US DMCA. If there's something we can do
to extend this to some other countries, we'll be glad to do it, as
long as we can be sure it doesn't cause trouble. We don't want to
cause trouble over there [Richard points] while we help over here.
<p class="indent">
So, at this point, I guess I will ask for questions.
[Time: 578 secs]
<p id="q1">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q1</span>: I have two questions.
What are the differences between the definition of open-source
software and the definition of Free Software, in your words?
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: Well, first
of all, the principal difference between the Free Software movement
and the open source activity is that open source is a development
model and Free Software is a social movement. The term &quot;open
source&quot; was coined to avoid ever mentioning ethical issues.
Specifically the ethical issues which are the centre of the Free
Software movement. We are fighting for freedom for ourselves and for
you. We are campaigning for social solidarity. Freedom and social
solidarity are our goals. Those are the goals of our social movement.
Proprietary software is evil because it attacks freedom and social
solidarity. When a program is proprietary, that means that the social
system of its distribution and use is unethical. Proprietary software
development harms society, it attacks society. It's a social problem.
Our goal is to correct, to eliminate that social problem. We make all
our software free because that's the only ethically legitimate way to
release software and we aim to replace proprietary software with Free
Software because proprietary software mistreats its users.
<p class="indent">
All of that is what the supporters of open source don't want to say.
They don't even want to raise the issue, so they developed a way of
talking about our software without mentioning the ethical deeper
levels of the issue. That's why they talk about a development model.
<p class="indent">
They say that allowing users to change and redistribute software
creates the possibility of using a certain development model and they
say that this development model makes for more powerful and reliable
software. Maybe they're right, but I think that's a secondary issue
compared with our freedom and our social solidarity.
<p class="indent">
So if I am offered a choice between a proprietary program which is
powerful and reliable and a free program which is not, I choose the
free program because that I can do in freedom. I'd rather make some
practical sacrifices to reject oppression.
<p class="indent">
But suppose you want both? Suppose you want freedom and solidarity,
and you want powerful reliable software? How can you get it? You
can't get that starting with the powerful, reliable, proprietary
program because there is no way you can liberate that program. The
only way you can get that, your ideal goal, is to start from the free
program, technically inadequate as it may be, because you do have the
option of improving it. That is the only path that can possibly ever
get you to your ideal situation. Insist on freedom and make the
program better.
<p class="indent">
Because of these basic philosophical differences, you will see
different responses from open source supporters and Free Software
activists in some situations. People have been able to overlook the
difference because when it comes to working together on a Free
Software project, it doesn't really matter what a person's
philosophical beliefs are if he wants to contribute. For instance, in
developing Free Software, when people ask to participate, we don't ask
them whether you support Free Software or open source, or maybe
neither. We don't need to ask them, we just say &quot;Oh, you're
welcome to participate, thank you for your work&quot;. People
regardless of their views can join in the same Free Software project.
[Time: 900 secs, part II]
<p class="indent">
But consider, for instance, the proposal for &quot;open source
DRM&quot;. Because open source doesn't concern itself with the users
freedom, open source supporters see no contradiction in supporting the
use of their development model to make DRM software. So they say, if
you let people redistribute and change the DRM software, you could
make more powerful and reliable DRM software. Of course, it's
intended to be used with tivoisation, so for the end user it will not
be Free Software. The end user will not have freedom because the
whole point of Digital Restrictions Management is to take away the
users' freedom. Here, the philosophical difference really matters.
If what you want is powerful reliable software, you might think that
powerful, reliable DRM is a good thing. If what you want is to have
freedom and to help everyone else have freedom, DRM is a bad thing and
tivoisation is an attack on your freedom. And so we want all DRM
software to be unreliable because we want it to be cracked. If
someone is trying to restrict all of us, we don't want him to do a
good job. Only fools would help him do a good job of subjugating us
<p class="indent">
GPL version 3 does not prohibit DRM as such. One of the basic
principles of Free Software, part of freedom number 1, is that you
should be free to change the software to do whatever you wish, and
freedom 3 says you are free to distribute your modified version. GPL
version 3 respects these principles. You will be allowed under GPL
version 3, just as you are allowed under GPL version 2, to modify a
free program by adding DRM restrictions and then distributing that to
the public. However, you should also be free, when you receive that -
that is a different &quot;you&quot; who is the user who receives that
program - is supposed to be free to modify it again by turning off the
<p class="indent">
In GPL version 3, we don't say that Sony can't put in DRM. What we
do, is make sure you are free to take out the DRM.
<p class="indent">
You had a second question.
[Time: 1118 secs, part II]
<p id="q1b">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q1b</span>: I'm concerned about the
transition period from version 2 to version 3. You said that the
MS/Novell deal will break version 3, but as far as I know, Linux will
use version 2.
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: Linux is just
one of many programs that uses the GPL.
<p id="q1c">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q1c</span>: From the customers point
of view. They will receive components that will use different
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: That's right.
That's true already. Remember, the GNU/Linux system has programs with
many different incompatible licences.
<p class="indent">
All GNU/Linux systems at this point include Mozilla, they all include
TeX. Both of those programs have licences that are incompatible with
GPL version 2 and with GPL version 3. Well, actually, Mozilla is also
under one of the GNU licences, so that's not a good example,
sorry. But Apache, every system includes Apache, and that has a
licence which is incompatible with GPL version 2. It will be
compatible with GPL version 3, but today it's incompatible. But this
isn't a problem because these are different programs.
<p id="q1d">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q1d</span>: So, you are saying, you
don't see any specific problem at this moment?
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: There's no
such thing as a transition period because we can't assume there there
will be a time when everybody has moved to GPL version 3, maybe some
projects will never move. But there's no difficulty in having some
programs in the system under GPL2 and other programs under GPL3.
<p id="q2">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q2</span>: Since the GPL is based on
copyright law, how is it affected by recent actions by Creative
Commons or Disney's attempts to extend copyright?
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: Creative
Commons just develops copyright licences. Nothing that Creative
Commons does has any effect on what the GNU GPL means. Some of the
Creative Commons licences are usable for certain purposes, and some of
them are so restrictive that they should never be used for anything,
like the developing countries licence, and some of the sampling
licences. They're bad. That's why I no longer support Creative
Commons, but nonetheless, they're just developing a bunch of copyright
licences. Lots of other people have written copyright licences too,
and those don't change copyright law.
<p class="indent">
However, extending the length of time of copyright is very bad, but it
also doesn't interfere with the meaning of any Free Software licence.
<p id="q3">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q3</span>: When using GPL version 3,
should we still write a copyright notice?
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: Yes, when you
release Free Software, it's normally copyrighted, and therefore you
should put a copyright notice on it, and then underneath the copyright
notice you put a licence notice which says &quot;You are permitted to
use this material under the following licence&quot;. That's true for
GPL version 2, and it's true for GPL version 3, and it's true for all
the other Free Software licences.
<p id="q4">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q4</span>: [Question asked in
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: Eh, no.
Basically, software patents obtained by children does not seem likely
to be a large part of the danger of software patents. So I suspect
it's a minor detail.
<p id="q4b">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q4b</span>: No, no, no. [in Japanese]
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: Well, when
the FSF asks for a copyright assignment, we ask if the developer is a
minor, and if so we ask for the parents to sign their approval on it.
But other developers, they should take some precautions about this,
but we can't do it for them and we can't make them do it. However, I
suspect it will not be a big problem unless Microsoft starts hunting
them and bribing their parents.
<p class="indent">
Which I suppose it might try to do.
<p id="q5">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q5</span>: I would like to hear more
about the cure clause of GPL version 3.
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: Well, we
don't have one yet, it's just a proposal we're thinking about, and if
we can make it work, we might do it.
[Time: 1592 secs, part II]
<p id="q5b">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q5b</span>: Actually I would like to
hear about its reasoning, because it seems it might open a loophole...
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: No, you've
misunderstood. What this means is, if you were distributing the
software wrong, and thus violating the GPL but you know it and you
stop, and you've never done it before, then after a certain time you
would regain your right to distribute the program properly. But since
this would only apply to the first violation, say with any given
program, the hope is that we could design it so that you wouldn't be
able to use this maliciously, but we're just investigating the idea.
It may or it may not turn out to be workable. If we can't make it
work in a way that doesn't create dangers, we won't do it.
<p id="q5c">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q5c</span>: Actually, what I wanted
to ask is where it came from, where did the idea for this clause come
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: I don't know
where it came from. Perhaps some of the companies that are
participating in some of our discussion groups suggested it, I don't
remember. I don't think I ever knew precisely where, and if I did
know, I forgot it because I didn't care.
[Time: 1702 secs, part II]
<p id="q6">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q6</span>: If I wanted to violate the
GPLv3, with this clause, I could start a company that violated it, and
then terminate the company and start another one, and so forth.
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: I see.
That's an interesting point. Well, it's conceivable that one could do
that anyway. It's sort of hard to enforce against someone doing that.
We have to find a way to enforce it against the person who started all
these companies because in an ordinary enforcement action, you would
enforce it against the entity that is doing the distribution. If that
entity disappears and a new one starts up, it might be hard. But if
they were all being done by one company, you could probably sue that
company. We would say to the judge &quot;look, it's really them,
they're the ones who are really starting A company, and B, and C, and
D&quot;. So we would get an injunction against the master, not the
<p class="indent">
But again, we would simply have to make sure that for any kind of
automatic cure, that it's smart enough, that it notices that this one
company is doing all these different things.
<p id="q7">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q7</span>: I'd like to know more
about this term &quot;use freely&quot;. In patent terminology, to use
something freely means that as long as you pay the licence fees, then
you can use it.
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: That's not
Free Software. In any case, when I informally use terminology like
&quot;to use something freely&quot;, I am not referring to any
country's patent law, and specifically, being free to do something
means you don't have to pay for permission to do it. When we describe
the four freedoms, when we say that freedom zero is the freedom to run
the program as you wish, part of that is: you're not required to pay
anyone for permission to run that program as you wish.
<p class="indent">
And, freedom 2 is the freedom to distribute copies of the program.
That means you don't have to pay for permission to do so, you don't
have to pay for each copy or negotiate with anybody. You're simply
free outright to go and do it.
<p class="indent">
If there's a program that you're allowed to run only if you pay
somebody, that's not Free Software. Therefore, the GNU GPL aims to
make sure that nobody can create such a situation. If somebody can
create a situation where people feel they must pay in order to be
allowed to run a GPL covered program, then that is a flaw, a failing
in the GPL and we are doing our best to make sure that can't happen.
<p id="q8">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q8</span>: This social movement
touches on many different disciplines and areas. Apart from software,
do you see other movements with a similar spirit?
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: Well, the
ideas of Free Software, I believe, extend to other kinds of works of
authorship that serve functional practical purposes such as, for
instance, recipes - which are, for the most part, free.
<p class="indent">
And, educational works such as text books and manuals, they should
also be free. And reference works, like dictionaries and
encyclopedias, so Wikipedia is an example of a free reference work,
and there are several others, showing that we are making good progress
in extending the idea of freedom to these other useful works.
<p class="indent">
More broadly, farmers in many countries are opposed to patents on
crops, which deny them the freedom to copy their plants. This
restriction is unjust in the same way that proprietary software is
unjust. However, we should be careful not to try to simplify life
down to just one issue. There are many ethical issues in life which
are different, they are not isomorphic, they are not analogous. I
don't believe that all the important ethical issues in life can be
modelled on the Free Software movement.
<p class="indent">
At a very broad level, the biggest political battle today is democracy
vs. the corporate masters of the World. Thus, free trade treaties are
designed to transfer power from governments that can be democratic to
businesses that never try to be democratic and therefore, free trade
treaties are dangerous. I believe they should be abolished.
<p class="indent">
This does not mean I'm against international trade. International
trade is beneficial for all the reasons that neo-liberal economists
tell us, but they don't mention the price which we pay in loss of
democracy. So I say that international trade is a useful thing to
encourage to the extent we can do so and still preserving the strength
of democracy. That means that today's free trade treaties have gone
too far because they turn democracy into an empty shell.
<p class="indent">
Today, companies find it so easy to move their operations from one
country to another that they make these countries compete to bow down
to business which means that no country can really exercise democracy
anymore. If the people in a country say &quot;We want you to regulate
business&quot;, perhaps to protect the environment, perhaps to protect
public health, perhaps to protect the general standard of living, the
politicians of the country respond &quot;We don't dare do this because all
the businesses will move some place else&quot;. Whatever methods of
encouraging international trade we use, have to be designed so that
they do not produce this result.
<p class="indent">
This is a very broad kind of struggle, and since the 90s, Free
Software can be seen as being a part of the struggle, even though when
we began the movement, that was before the age of these free trade
treaties and the larger context into which our movement fits today
didn't exist then.
<p class="indent">
Because fundamentally, this isn't about democracy vs. business.
Fundamentally this is about making sure everyone's freedom and social
solidarity is respected. It just happens that this fits into today's
movement against business-dominated globalisation.
<p class="indent">
Interestingly, Free Software itself is globalisation. Many free
programs have developers in several continents and are used in all the
countries of the World, or pretty close. Free Software represents the
globalisation of human knowledge and human cooperation. When people
say they are against globalisation, they are simplifying things a
bit. The issue there is not globalisation in an abstract sense, it's
one specific kind of globalisation, namely the globalisation of
business power.
<p class="indent">
Businesses should never have power, that conflicts with democracy, so
business power is an injustice and if you globalise something that is
bad, it becomes a bigger evil. But cooperation and developing and
disseminating human knowledge is good. If you globalise something
good, it becomes a bigger good, and that's what the Free Software
movement does.
[Time: 2403 secs, part II ends]
<p id="q9">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q9</span>: You mentioned that v3 will
be compatible with Apache and Eclipse licences. Do you know any open
source licences that will still be incompatible...
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: We're not
working on open source, we're not interested in open source. By the
way, some open source licences are not Free Software licences, the
definition of open source came from the definition of Free Software
but it followed a circuitous path, and it's written very differently
and it's interpreted by different people, so they've drawn the lines
in different places, so most of the open source licences are Free
Software licences, but there are some licences that the OSI accepted
that we consider unacceptably restrictive.
<p class="indent">
Therefore, basically we're not interested in open source at all. I
ask you please not to refer to our work as open source. That would be
mislabelling us with the slogan of a philosophy we disagree with. And
therefore, if you wish to have discussions with us, please don't do so
in a way that supposes that what we are talking about is open source
because we will have to refuse to participate in that discussion. We
are not going to accept the labelling of our work as open source, no
matter what, so you have to use the term Free Software if you wish to
discuss our work with us.
<p id="q9b">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q9b</span>: Thank you for the
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: So do you
want to try again?
<p id="q10">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q10</span>: Yes. Will there still
be Free Software licences that are incompatible with v3?
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: Yes. There
are some Free Software licences that will have certain kinds of
requirements which are not totally unacceptable. That's why we
consider them still to be Free Software licences, but, we're not
willing to have those requirements come into GPL covered programs.
<p class="indent">
For instance, some programs say you must change the name if you modify
it. Ah, we don't want that restriction coming into GPL covered code.
Some Free Software licences have patent retaliation clauses that we
consider unjust, for instance, Apple's says if you sue Apple for
patent infringement, then you lose the right to distribute this
software. Well, the reason we don't like that one is, suppose Apple
sued you first, then you just counter-sue, in that case Apple
committed the aggression and you are just defending yourself, so we
don't want that kind of patent retaliation in GPL covered programs.
We didn't consider it so bad as to make their licence non-free, but
it's too far to allow into GPL covered programs.
<p class="indent">
And then are licences that are file-level copylefts. The Mozilla
Public License was the first of these. File-level copylefts say &quot;If
you modify the files of this program, the modified versions of those
same files must be under this same licence&quot;. Now, that's not as
strong as the GPL. The GPL says if you modify the program, you're
whole modified program must be under the GPL. Those file-level
copylefts, or we might call them weak copylefts, permit the additional
of separate files which are non-free. They don't really achieve the
goal of copyleft, but because they made this requirement about the
file, it's impossible to relicense that file under the GPL. So the
GPL will always be incompatible with those file-level copyleft
<p class="indent">
Then there's the bizarre licence of TeX, which is incompatible with
<p class="indent">
The licence of TeX says &quot;You can't modify this file, but you can
distribute it with a change file&quot; and then when TeX is built,
it's built by patching the standard TeX source code using the change
file. So, in effect, you can distribute any modified version in that
way, that's how I convinced myself in 1984 that that was a Free
Software licence. But if you have two programs under the TeX licence,
you can't merge them because each one says: anything that contains
this can only be distributed as a changefile from this. So you have
two things tugging at each other, each one insisting on being the
base. So the TeX licence is incompatible with itself, but it's a Free
Software licence.
<p id="q11">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q11</span>: You just discussed weak
copyleft. My question is about the Lesser GPL. When you publish a
weak licence, certain developers will choose it without a good reason. is an example.
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: I don't know
why they did that, but at least it's Free Software.
<p id="q11b">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q11b</span>: So, do you have any plan
to provide some additional versions of the GPL?
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: Well, we have
the GNU Lesser GPL, and we can't get rid of it. However, in
conjunction with GPL version 3, the Lesser GPL will take a new form,
it will take the form of GPL version 3 plus certain additional
permissions. The Lesser GPL as it exists today, and it first came out
some time around 1990, I believe, is written essentially from zero,
and it says you can relicense under the GPL, which is what makes them
compatible, but we decided to start from scratch and express the same
permissions as a delta, starting from the GPL. That's the way the new
version of the LGPL is going to work. It's going to say &quot;You can
use this under GNU GPL version 3 or later, and in addition we permit
these things&quot;. So it's making use of section 7 of GPL version 3
which describes how to add additional permissions or, in certain
cases, additional requirements. We can't get rid of it, even if we
wanted to, but we don't want to. There are good reasons why certain
libraries are released in that way.
<p id="q12">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q12</span>: I'm wondering if you can
talk briefly about the changes and what's happening with the GFDL and
the GSFDL?
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: I don't
remember them so well.
<p class="indent">
I'd have to refresh my memory. We decided to make something like the
GNU Free Documentation License which doesn't have invariant sections
or cover texts, and that's the GNU Simpler Free Documentation License.
Anything that's under the GFDL and has no cover texts or invariant
sections, you will be able to relicense under the SFDL.
<p class="indent">
Also, we utilised the concepts of &quot;propagate&quot; and
&quot;convey&quot; to make them more internationalised. I think that
that's basically what the changes are. I think there is also
a provision for distributing small excerpts without having a copy of the
licence accompany them, which is something people have asked for.
<p class="indent">
In general, we do not want to allow distributing a work with just a
link to the licence, and the reason is, we don't know whether such
links to licences are reliable over periods of decades, so our rule
is: you have to provide the licence itself with the work.
<p class="indent">
We're trying to prevent the bad outcome which is that a person has a
copy of the work and doesn't know what licence he can use it under.
If you don't know what your freedoms are, it's almost as if you didn't
have them. That's not a good outcome. However, we're going to permit
this for those small excerpts because it causes too much of a
practical problem otherwise.
<p id="q13">
(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>)<br />
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Q13</span>: When using the GPL for a
font, what happens to documents that use the font?
<p class="indent">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">Richard Stallman</span>: As far as I
know, there is no problem using GPL version 2 or 3 for fonts. Now,
you might want to state explicitly that you don't regard documents
that have text in the font as being linked with the font, and let
those documents be licensed in any way people wish.
<p class="indent">
You could put an exception, an additional permission on the font,
saying that you don't insist on anything about the licensing of
documents which use the font.
[Q&amp;A session ends; applause]
<h2 id="further-information">Further information</h2>
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