iPhone restricts, GPL3 frees – FSF
June 29 – Not not everyone in the continental US will be waiting in line to purchase a $500 iPhone. In fact, hundreds of thousands of digital aficionados around the globe won’t be standing in line at all, for June 29 marks the release of version 3 of the GNU General Public Licence (GPL). Version 2 of the GPL governs the world’s largest body of free software – software that is radically reshaping the industry and threatening the proprietary technology model represented by the iPhone.
The author of the the GPL is Richard M. Stallman, president and founder of the Free Software Foundation, and creator of the GNU Project. With his first revision of the licence in sixteen years, version 3 of the GPL fights the most recent attempts to take the freedom out of free software – most notably, version 3 attacks "Tivoization" – and that could be a problem for Apple and the iPhone.
Now, from China to India, from Venezuela to Brazil, from Tivos to cell phones: Free software is everywhere and it is slowly building a worldwide movement of users demanding that they have control over the computers and electronic devices they own.
<b>Tivoization and the iPhone?</b> "Tivoization" is a term coined by the FSF to describe devices that are built with free software, but that use technical measures to prevent the user from making modifications to the software – a fundamental freedom for free software users – and an attack on free software that the GPLv3 will put a stop to.
The iPhone is leaving people questioning: Does it contain GPLed software? What impact will the GPLv3 have on the long-term prospects for devices like the iPhone that are built to keep their owners frustrated? Peter Brown, executive director of the FSF said, "Today, Steve Jobs and Apple release a product crippled with proprietary software and digital restrictions: crippled, because a device that isn’t under the control of its owner works against the interests of its owner.
We know that Apple has built its operating system, OS X, and its web browser Safari, using GPL-covered work – it will be interesting to see to what extent the iPhone uses GPLed software."
The GNU GPL version 3 will be released at 12:00pm (EDT) – six hours before the release of the iPhone – bringing to a close eighteen months of public outreach and comment, in revision of the world’s most popular free software licence.