Fighting for software freedom means trying to build a world where every user has the unencumbered, inalienable right to copy, share, modify, redistribute, upgrade and improve all the software on which they rely.
IMO, the final goal of the software freedom movement is to change the world so that all software available is Free Software, giving every users those key inalienable rights.
Fundamentally, copyleft is a strategy, not a moral imperative onto itself.
We must never forget: the goal is software freedom.
Copyleft is simply a tool to help us get there.
Copyleft is a strategy of utilizing copyright law to pursue the policy goal of fostering & encouraging the equal & inalienable right to copy, share, modify & improve creative works of authorship. Copyleft … describes any method that utilizes the copyright system to achieve the aforementioned goal. Copyleft as a concept is usually implemented in the details of a specific copyright license … Copyright holders of creative work can unilaterally implement these licenses for their own works to build communities that collaboratively share & improve those copylefted creative works.
— Definition of copyleft from copyleft.org
Copyleft is not magic pixie dust.
Broadly, GPL enforcement is the process of ensuring that redistributors grant the rights that copyleft assures.
The Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement at sfconservancy.org/linux-compliance/principles.html.
OpenWrt may be the most successful historical example of GPL enforcement.
The project began as the outcome of GPL enforcement action.
Spring 2003: dozens of reports on WRT54G.
Discussions begin with Cisco (who’d bought Linksys just weeks before)
Story hits slashdot on 2003-06-08
WRT54G source is released (but wireless driver kept proprietary).
SVN check-in r1 of the OpenWrt project was the actual source code we reviewed in our GPL compliance efforts.
After months of negotiation, Linksys admitted the build came from Broadcom.
Please note: Broadcom was a different company, and led by different people then.
On Monday 13 October 2003, Broadcom brought most of their executive team to meet with us.
Their primary request: don’t push on the wireless driver issue, for fear of an FCC fight, and in return they will comply with GPL.
The coalition of copyright holders enforcing the GPL in this case made that deal.
I’ve often wondered if we made the right deal.
But I doubt I’d go back and change it, because the birth of OpenWrt was too important to mess with.
… & besides, I am convinced time-travel into the past is impossible.
More than any other project, I believe OpenWrt/LEDE culture has GPL enforcement in their DNA more than any other project.
OpenWrt/LEDE developers have a healthy distrust of any proprietary component, particularly proprietary device drivers.
Developers are not afraid to confront companies who make proprietary drivers …
But be clear on this point:
the question is still open with the FCC; it’s not decided yet. We should not treat it as a fait accompli!
There is more hard work ahead of us as we finalize rules, and we welcome continued input from manufacturers, users, technologists, and others.
We had, from 2003-2007, and now may again soon have a potential conflict between copyright requirements under GPL & FCC regulations.
In the USA, we can bring this issue to the forefront: ultimately, two federal laws/regulations (i.e., copyright & spectrum regulation) have a fundamental conflict.
Ultimately, the NPRM dance with the FCC, while necessary, is only one approach to bring forward the issue.
Consider this other simple, parallel approach:
Bring a product before the FCC that needs to be GPL’d due to compliance, and ask for certification.
If/When it is not certified, we can directly ask the federal government to address the question head-on: “Is the USA federal government really telling us to either violate GPL, or never incorporate GPL’d software into FCC-compliant wireless products?”
Conservancy is investigating executing on this approach.
Presentation and slides are: Copyright © 2015, 2016 Bradley M. Kuhn, and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.