08.28.07

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GPLv3 — From Strength to Strength

Posted in DRM, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GPL, Microsoft, Tivoization, Virtualisation at 10:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft and the GPLv3

“Legal action might ensue”

Several months ago, Microsoft disavowed any involvement with the GNU GPL, arguting that it would have no contact with GPLv3. Recently, a suspicion arose that Microsoft used its close partner Citrix as a proxy in a XenSource acquisition in order to:

  1. Avoid direct contact with the GPL.
  2. Escape the wrath of possible antitrust watchdogs.

The Free Software Foundation has been looking at this situation for a while and last night it showed it was willing to strike back. Legal action might ensue, as was anticipated by some.

I’m just a paralegal, but I read that as saying they [FSF] will litigate, if necessary.

Matt Asay’s coverage of this development (a pointer to Groklaw) tells the gist of the story in the title “Free Software Foundation to Microsoft: You are not above the law.”

In the coming months, we are likely to see some interesting developments, some of which litigious.

SugarCRM and the GPLv3

In other news, the GNU GPLv3 appears to be growing up very fast and it might even reach Wall Street thanks to SugarCRM being its ‘carrier’. According to this new report, the company’s CEO is eying an IPO in the long term.

Roberts anticipates that the company, which now has 125 employees, can grow to $100 million in yearly revenue in the next couple of years.

Remember, however, that SugarCRM is a dual-license piece of software with history of abusing the term “open source”. This earned it notoriety in the Free software circles. Here is the company’s latest milestone and marketing pitch:

Another difference is that SCE 5.0 will be licensed under version 3 of the GNU general public license (GPLv3) instead of the vendor’s own Sugar Public License, a derivation of the Mozilla Public License, as had previously been the case.

Not so long ago, SugarCRM summoned the courage to slam the very same body to which it had given a bad name.

Full of free software pride, SugarCRM CEO John Roberts has revitalized his attack against the Open Source Initiative (OSI) characterizing the organization as weak and confused.

After being the open source community’s whipping boy, SugarCRM now enjoys a position of power. Last month, the software maker agreed to place a fresh version of its flagship product under the General Public License v3 (GPLv3) crafted by the Free Software Foundation. This established SugarCRM as the most prominent backer of GPLv3 to date.

Here is their key announcement. It is worth repeating.

SugarCRM is to adopt Version 3 of the GNU general public license (GPLv3) for the next release of its open source CRM software after coming under pressure from its user community to move away from its own Sugar Public License.

Tivoization and the GPLv3

A curious new paper highlights what could indeed be a loophole in the GPLv3. It permits Tivoization through the use of hypervisors (yes, yet another unaccounted-for disruptive technology, just like SaaS).

This guest whitepaper explains how a hypervisor can be used to leverage GPL software while isolating it from proprietary code, in order to ensure compliance with the requirements of the GPL.

Bear in mind that DRM in Tivoized devices is not just loathed, but it is also ineffective. Consider this fairly recent development:

Megazone over at TiVo Lovers is reporting that someone’s cracTiVoked the DRM on TiVoToGo, letting you export recorded programs from a TiVo for viewing on any device.

There remains a great ambition to end such anti-consumer methodologies, so GPLv4, which Richard Stallman has already mentioned, springs to mind (probably prematurely).

In the ongoing battle between Linux kernel developers and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) over the future of the GNU Public License (GPL), somehow DVR-maker Tivo has become either the whipping boy or the poster child, depending on whose side you are on. FSF founder Richard Stallman even coined a term for what he sees as misuse of the GPL: “tivoization”.

GPU, GPL, and the Future

One valued member of the Free software movement seems rather irritated when he describes some notable failures.

Getting people’s attention is even more important than trying to develop a free BIOS or a free flash player. The industry offers technology and people accept/reject it, this is how things work and this is why having people on our side is the way to go (instead of begging the industry for mercy). There would be no need to develop a free alternative to the Google Earth client in a Free Software-aware society, for example.

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