DRM is the open source divide

No issue divides the open source community today like Digital Rights Management (DRM).

No issue divides the open source community today like Digital Rights Management (DRM).

The open source side (let's call them the "wets") believe DRM is a valid choice. Linus Torvalds is a wet. Here's what he told our own Stephen Shankland:

"Say I'm a hardware manufacturer. I decide I love some particular piece of open-source software, but when I sell my hardware, I want to make sure it runs only one particular version of that software, because that's what I've validated. So I make my hardware check the cryptographic signature of the binary before I run it."

TiVo, which runs the Linux kernel but supports DRMs, is what Torvalds has in mind here. Without DRM, content makers won't let their stuff run with open source, so the wets believe, let it go.

Eben Moglen is a dry, and his position is equally clear. DRM removes your right to modify your stuff, so it should not be supported. Here's the quote Shankland used:

"If you're keeping the right to modify and not conveying that right to modify, you're violating the license."

All this is playing out in the GPLv3 debate, which has now reached Version 2. While both sides are talking, the drys seem to have the upper hand.

But that's not where the debate will really play out. It will really play out in the market. Will GPL companies switch to GPL v3, or explicitly demand retention of V2, which is frankly vague on the DRM question.

Wet or dry, which is it to be?

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