For Approval: GPLv3

Richard Fontana fontana at
Fri Aug 17 01:10:34 UTC 2007

Donovan Hawkins wrote:
> GPL v3 requires that the manufacturer of the voting machine inform the
> buyer (ie the government who is holding the election) how to unlock the
> voting machine and replace the software. If there is a password needed
> to access it, they have to tell them what the factory default password
> is set to. But there is nothing that prevents the government from
> changing that password and keeping the new password a secret from the
> voters who use the machine. I don't think that allowing you to vote
> using the government's machine qualifies as conveying the software to
> the voter, so the voter has no rights under the GPL.

As to voting machines, one need not even reach this issue under GPLv3.
The anti-lockdown requirements of section 6 apply to "User Products"
only, which are largely limited to "consumer products" (which uses the
Magnuson-Moss Act definition: any tangible personal property normally
used for personal, family or household purposes).  Voting machines, as
they exist today, are certainly not consumer products. Moreover, the
anti-lockdown requirements do not apply to such ephemeral forms of
propagation as granting someone brief access to use a voting machine to
vote (even if this *would* be "conveying"; under U.S. law, at least, we
are confident that it isn't).

Richard E. Fontana
Software Freedom Law Center
tel. 212-461-1909
fax  212-580-0898

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