[IAEP] [Sugar-devel] ANNOUNCE: Moving Sugar to GPLv3+

Bernie Innocenti bernie at sugarlabs.org
Mon Apr 25 00:17:00 EDT 2011

On Sun, 2011-04-24 at 07:53 -0400, Martin Langhoff wrote: 
> > Wait a moment: neither the GPLv2 nor the GPLv3 has ever put any
> > limitation on the way you can *use* the software. One could use GPLv3
> > software to murder people or to implement DRM.
> Except that antitivoization clauses provide for unlocking the DRM so
> you actually can't. That is squarely the intention of v3.
> So then you write
> > It's not happening right now, but one day someone could get the idea to
> > take the wicked business model of ebook readers into the world of
> > education. By going with the GPLv3, we'll prevent this sort of things
> > from ever happening in the future.
> Hey! You can't have it both ways. Either you are dictating how it is
> used, or you are not.

Sorry, I've been ambiguous, but my statements arn't really in conflict.
Here's why:

There's no clause in the GPLv3 that says "you shall not implement DRM"
or "you must let users unlock DRM". Such a clause would make me very
happy, but it would go beyond what is strictly necessary to protect the
rights associated with free software. I guess most people who don't like
the GPLv3 are interpreting it this way.

What the GPLv3 *really* says, is that you must give your users a mean to
replace the GPLv3-covered portion of the software with a modified
version of it. This mean could come in the form of an authorization key.

To make a real-world, if Sugar were the only GPLv3 component in Fedora
11, the distributor would have to give the users a mean to run a
modified version of Sugar. Not X11 or the kernel, just Sugar. If Sugar
implemented some DRM in it, such DRM would be easily defeated. But if
the DRM were in the Read activity or in the kernel, the GPLv3 wouldn't
have anything to say on them.

> Someone could have the wicked idea of using Sugar to teach a whole lot
> of things that could go very much against what OLPC is all about.
> Should we start revising GPLv3 to restrict a whole lot of things that
> are contrary to OLPC and SugarLabs' goals? Racism, sexism, hate,
> xenophobia, partisan rewriting of history... the list is long and
> sadly colourful. Mind if I say that DRM is very *very* far down that
> particular list? :-)

DRM isn't an abstract idea! DRM is a mean for preventing users from
modifying a piece of software running on a computer. This is in conflict
with the very notion of Free Software.

> Or should we stay clear of that mess, and keep the license apolitical
> and focused on sharing the source?
> It is clear that FSF does not like DRM, and I respect that position.
> However, it is a topic of *how* the software is used, and that is an
> essentially political topic.

Indeed, it's a political (or ethical) question: for many of us, Sugar
isn't Free Software just by accident. We wouldn't commit our time to
work on a proprietary educational platform sold by Apple or Microsoft.

If we wanted to see our work exploited for making children's iPads and
Kindles, then we'd better license everything under the BSD; this way
there wouldn't be any inconvenient obligations to fulfill for the
vendor :-)

By updating to the GPLv3, we make a clear political statement that
commercial usage is ok, but our software must always remain free for
users to use, study, share *and* modify.

Bernie Innocenti
Sugar Labs Infrastructure Team

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