Bonum Certa Men Certa

How KDE Defeated DRM (and What Linux Might Do Next)

DRM Apple
Digital Restrictions, Meh



Summary: KDE's lesson in maintaining Freedom and defending data accessibility at the same time

YESTERDAY WE WROTE about Linux pondering DRM, having already let in TPM or something that's akin to Tivoization. Some of us at Boycott Novell hold the belief that this is counter-productive for users who perceive GNU/Linux as a free (libre) operating system that respects its users by putting rights and trust in the hands of these users.



Aaron Seigo from the KDE project has just dispatched this encouraging post which revealed how they handled the growing plague of document DRM. From the opening paragraphs:

Jonathan Corbet wrote a piece on LWN about Okular and it's implementation of user permission restrictions in PDFs (sometimes errantly refered to as "DRM"). This is actually something it has done since it was KPDF back in KDE 3. Obviously, permissions in PDFs are a generally misguided attempt at protecting the agenda of a publisher in a demonstrably ineffective way that comes at a cost to things like the concepts of fair use.

So what's up with Okular having support for permissions? It's quite simple: not only is permissions in the PDF spec, but there are organizations in the world who, for contractual or legal reasons, require permissions in PDFs be respected.

Do we simply not serve those users needs? Do we "know better" for the user who says "I want to accept the terms of the publisher of this document"? Of course not; that's rather user unfriendly in itself.

So the strategy adopted was quite simple: make it an option that the user may choose to abide by the permissions flags in a PDF or not.


If a Linux authority ever insists on support for DRM*, then maybe developers can provide people with a similar option to that which KDE offers. Novell's Go-OO developers take it a step further.

While on this important subject of Linux and Freedom, what is the consequence this new post from Jim Zemlin?

Canola Project’s GPLv3 Permissions are Worth a Look



[...]

The foundation and its members all believe that licensing choice is ultimately up to the developers and owners of a project. We are concerned, however, with whether the language of popular licenses is legally clear, and also with the fact that having too many licenses and license variations can become confusing.

Regardless of where you come down on the debate as to whether these permissions should be granted, it is clear that this language is effective and that its consistent use will be helpful for those projects and developers that DO wish to provide a similar exception to the GPLv3.


IBM is a little scared of Freedom (and by inference the GPLv3). It refuses to talk about elimination of software patents because it favours them and it is also a (or the) major force in the Linux Foundation and OIN, based on the respective portfolio. Under sufficient pressure from users IBM et al will need to readjust (or face negative impact on PR).

The GNU GPLv3 gains acceptance



______ * Linus Torvalds says he likes Tivoization, but he is glad to see music DRM fading at the same time. Some call it a contradiction.

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