Torvalds says GPL should not be anti-DRM

By Derek Sooman on February 8, 2006, 2:47 PM
The father of Linux, Linus Torvalds, is claiming that new provisions against digital rights management in a draft update to the General Public Licence (GPL) could have a detrimental effect on computer security. Torvalds made the point that it is important to remember that not all DRM is bad that the application of the technology can be a positive thing if used correctly.

"I think a lot of people may find that the GPLv3 'anti-DRM' measures aren't all that wonderful after all. Digital signatures and cryptography aren't just 'bad DRM'. They very much are 'good security' too," Torvalds said.
Torvalds gave some examples of good use of DRM technology, such as instances of areas where he believes it's appropriate for secret digital keys to be used to sign software, or cases where a computer can only run software versions that have authorised digital signatures. For example, a company might want to distribute a Linux version that loads only kernel modules that have been signed.

"The current GPLv3 draft pretty clearly says that Red Hat would have to distribute their private keys, so that anybody can sign their own versions of the modules they recompile, in order to re-create their own versions of the signed binaries that Red Hat creates. That's insane."

User Comments: 10

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Masque said:
He's a very smart man with some very valid point. A lot of people are so anti-DRM on the surface but they're actually against the exploiters of it (read RIAA etc.). That's something to take stock in.
phantasm66 said:
Technology is not really good or bad. Its the use to which it is put that is good or bad.
nathanskywalker said:
Did he just say keep DRM alive? Dude, mabye your right, but personally i'd rather take the risk and just have all of them dissappear into a neverending abyss of ancient multimeadia.
DragonMaster said:
But DRM is always used the wrong way...I don't have anything working with DRM right now but people that do find it just a pain in the a** even if it's just for personal use!DragonMaster says everyone should be anti-DRM('cause it's used the wrong way).
MonkeyMan said:
Well, there is a positive side to this, in that DRM is effective if used correctly. So, with that being said, are there people that use DRM the wrong way, making it bad? dunno, but if so, the problem lies with the user of the DRM software.
Race said:
No doubt...DRM implemented thus far has not been ideal, and has taken away some rights users legally have to the content they buy. But that doesn't mean DRM - in and of itself - is something to be trashed. It's just that the particular implementations thus far haven't been very good.Something to consider, if it comes down to it......Linux (the kernel) is licensed under the GPLv2.0. It effectively cannot be licensed under any other version of the GPL since the license, thanks to Linus Torvalds, contains a specific clause that says something along the lines of:'This code is licensed under GPL v2 and may not be licensed under any other version'. (i.e..v3)
Need_a_Dell said:
This makes me think of the problems that Sony had just a few months ago with their cd protection software. After placing the cd into your computer, it would automatically install a program which would regualte the amount of copies you could make of the cd. This program had a massive hole in it that could allow people to take control over your computer across the internet. So, with this in mind, DRM can be used for benefit, or for disaster. People have to think things through before releasing new methods of DRM.
cyrax said:
As long as drm exists, there will always be the desire to exploit it.
phantasm66 said:
[b]Originally posted by cyrax:[/b][quote]As long as drm exists, there will always be the desire to exploit it.[/quote]people used to say the same things about encryption.
Eko said:
Let's not make the mistake of comparing apples and bananas. The DRM as it is used today allows the RIAA and other organisations to push the rights of the consumers away.Just think of the atomic energy and it's use by the Americans at the end of the second World War.I say let's get rid of the DRM.
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