The most popular free software license - the GNU GPL - will combat DRM

Last week the Free Software Foundation announced that version 3 of the GNU GPL (GPLv3), will be released on June 29th.

On this date many thousands of free software projects will start to switch to this license. And GPLv3 is squarely aimed at defeating DRM.

Many corporations use GPL covered works to build their products. The successful adoption of GPLv3 will help limit DRM to those products built with proprietary software. Those products will be less attractive to consumers, more expensive, and less useful.

As Richard Stallman writes in an essay about the GPLv3:

In the crucial area of Digital Restrictions Management—nasty features designed to restrict your use of the data in your computer—competition is no help, because relevant competition is forbidden. Under the Digital Millenuium Copyright Act and similar laws, it is illegal, in the US and many other countries, to distribute DVD players unless they restrict the user according to the official rules of the DVD conspiracy (its web site is, but the rules do not seem to be published there). The public can't reject DRM by buying non-DRM players, because none are available. No matter how many products you can choose from, they all have equivalent digital handcuffs.

GPLv3 ensures you are free to remove the handcuffs. It doesn't forbid DRM, or any kind of feature. It places no limits on the substantive functionality you can add to a program, or remove from it. Rather, it makes sure that you are just as free to remove nasty features as the distributor of your copy was to add them. Tivoization is the way they deny you that freedom; to protect your freedom, GPLv3 forbids tivoization.

The release later this month of the GPLv3 will be big for our campaign to end DRM.