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GPLv3 Last Call Draft Released; and RMS on Why Upgrade
Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 05:11 PM EDT

The Free Software Foundation has just announced the release of the Last Call Draft of GPLv3 and a guide to it explaining the changes. The guide lists four changes, but the most important is that "GPLv3 is now compatible with version 2.0 of the Apache License".

Last call draft means exactly that. It's still a draft, so if you see issues, let them know. But this is the last draft, so speak now or forever hold your peace on changes to GPLv3.

Richard Stallman has also released an essay on the draft, providing some reasons he sees to upgrade, but also including this word about compatibility:

First of all, it is important to note that upgrading is a choice. GPL version 2 will remain a valid license, and no disaster will happen if some programs remain under GPLv2 while others advance to GPLv3. These two licenses are incompatible, but that isn't a serious problem.

When we say that GPLv2 and GPLv3 are incompatible, it means there is no legal way to combine code under GPLv2 with code under GPLv3 in a single program....

Fortunately, license incompatibility only matters when you want to link, merge or combine code from two different programs into a single program. There is no problem in having GPLv3-covered and GPLv2-covered programs side by side in an operating system. For instance, the TeX license and the Apache license are incompatible with GPLv2, but that doesn't stop us from running TeX and Apache in the same system with Linux, Bash and GCC. This is because they are all separate programs. Likewise, if Bash and GCC move to GPLv3, while Linux remains under GPLv2, there is no conflict.

So, no disaster if you wish to stick to v2; but there are some legal benefits to upgrading.

*******************************************

Why Upgrade to GPL Version 3

-- Richard Stallman

Version 3 of the GNU General Public License will soon be finished, enabling free software packages to upgrade from GPL version 2. This article explains why upgrading the license is important.

First of all, it is important to note that upgrading is a choice. GPL version 2 will remain a valid license, and no disaster will happen if some programs remain under GPLv2 while others advance to GPLv3. These two licenses are incompatible, but that isn't a serious problem.

When we say that GPLv2 and GPLv3 are incompatible, it means there is no legal way to combine code under GPLv2 with code under GPLv3 in a single program. This is because both GPLv2 and GPLv3 are copyleft licenses: each of them says, "If you include code under this license in a larger program, the larger program must be under this license too." There is no way to make them compatible. We could add a GPLv2-compatibility clause to GPLv3, but it wouldn't do the job, because GPLv2 would need a similar clause.

Fortunately, license incompatibility only matters when you want to link, merge or combine code from two different programs into a single program. There is no problem in having GPLv3-covered and GPLv2-covered programs side by side in an operating system. For instance, the TeX license and the Apache license are incompatible with GPLv2, but that doesn't stop us from running TeX and Apache in the same system with Linux, Bash and GCC. This is because they are all separate programs. Likewise, if Bash and GCC move to GPLv3, while Linux remains under GPLv2, there is no conflict.

Keeping a program under GPLv2 won't create problems. The reason to migrate is because of the existing problems which GPLv3 will address.

One major danger that GPLv3 will block is tivoization. Tivoization means computers (called "appliances") contain GPL-covered software that you can't change, because the appliance shuts down if it detects modified software. The usual motive for tivoization is that the software has features the manufacturer thinks lots of people won't like. The manufacturers of these computers take advantage of the freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do likewise.

Some argue that competition between appliances in a free market should suffice to keep nasty features to a low level. Perhaps competition alone would avoid arbitrary, pointless misfeatures like "Must shut down between 1pm and 5pm every Tuesday", but even so, a choice of masters isn't freedom. Freedom means you control what your software does, not merely that you can beg or threaten someone else who decides for you.

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 http://www.dvdcca.org/, 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 ban on tivoization applies to any product whose use by consumers, even occasionally, is to be expected. GPLv3 tolerates tivoization only for products that are almost exclusively meant for businesses and organizations. (The latest draft of GPLv3 states this criterion explicitly.)

Another threat that GPLv3 resists is that of patent deals like the Novell-Microsoft deal. Microsoft wants to use its thousands of patents to make GNU/Linux users pay Microsoft for the privilege, and made this deal to try to get that. The deal offers Novell's customers rather limited protection from Microsoft patents.

Microsoft made a few mistakes in the Novell-Microsoft deal, and GPLv3 is designed to turn them against Microsoft, extending that limited patent protection to the whole community. In order to take advantage of this, programs need to use GPLv3.

Microsoft's lawyers are not stupid, and next time they may manage to avoid those mistakes. GPLv3 therefore says they don't get a "next time". Releasing a program under GPL version 3 protects it from Microsoft's future attempts to make redistributors collect Microsoft royalties from the program's users.

GPLv3 also provides for explicit patent protection of the users from the program's contributors and redistributors. With GPLv2, users rely on an implicit patent license to make sure that the company which provided them a copy won't sue them, or the people they redistribute copies to, for patent infringement.

The explicit patent license in GPLv3 does not go as far as we might have liked. Ideally, we would make everyone who redistributes GPL-covered code surrender all software patents, along with everyone who does not redistribute GPL-covered code. Software patents are a vicious and absurd system that puts all software developers in danger of being sued by companies they have never heard of, as well as by all the megacorporations in the field. Large programs typically combine thousands of ideas, so it is no surprise if they implement ideas covered by hundreds of patents. Megacorporations collect thousands of patents, and use those patents to bully smaller developers. Patents already obstruct free software development.

The only way to make software development safe is to abolish software patents, and we aim to achieve this some day. But we cannot do this through a software license. Any program, free or not, can be killed by a software patent in the hands of an unrelated party, and the program's license cannot prevent that. Only court decisions or changes in patent law can make software development safe from patents. If we tried to do this with GPLv3, it would fail.

Therefore, GPLv3 seeks to limit and channel the danger. In particular, we have tried to save free software from a fate worse than death: to be made effectively proprietary, through patents. The explicit patent license of GPLv3 makes sure companies that use the GPL to give users the four freedoms cannot turn around and use their patents to tell some users "That doesn't include you." It also stops them from colluding with other patent holders to do this.

Further advantages of GPLv3 include better internationalization, gentler termination, support for BitTorrent, and compatibility with the Apache license. (For full information, see gplv3.fsf.org.) All in all, plenty of reason to upgrade.

Change is unlikely to cease once GPLv3 is released. If new threats to users' freedom develop, we will have to develop GPL version 4. It is important to make sure that programs will have no trouble upgrading to GPLv4 when the time comes.

One way to do this is to release a program under "GPL version 3 or any later version". Another way is for all the contributors to a program to state a proxy who can decide on upgrading to future GPL versions. The third way is for all the contributors to assign copyright to one designated copyright holder, who will be in a position to upgrade the license version. One way or another, programs should provide this flexibility for the future.

Copyright 2007 Richard Stallman
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide without royalty in any medium provided this notice is preserved.


GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE

Last Call Draft of Version 3, 31 May 2007

THIS IS A DRAFT, NOT A PUBLISHED VERSION OF THE GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE.

Copyright (C) 2007 Free Software Foundation, Inc. (http://fsf.org) 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

Preamble

The GNU General Public License is a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works.

The licenses for most software and other practical works are designed to take away your freedom to share and change the works. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change all versions of a program--to make sure it remains free software for all its users. We, the Free Software Foundation, use the GNU General Public License for most of our software; it applies also to any other work released this way by its authors. You can apply it to your programs, too.

When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for them if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs, and that you know you can do these things.

To protect your rights, we need to prevent others from denying you these rights or asking you to surrender the rights. Therefore, you have certain responsibilities if you distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it: responsibilities to respect the freedom of others.

For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must pass on to the recipients the same freedoms that you received. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.

Developers that use the GNU GPL protect your rights with two steps: (1) assert copyright on the software, and (2) offer you this License giving you legal permission to copy, distribute and/or modify it.

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Finally, every program is threatened constantly by software patents. States should not allow patents to restrict development and use of software on general-purpose computers, but in those that do, we wish to avoid the special danger that patents applied to a free program could make it effectively proprietary. To prevent this, the GPL assures that patents cannot be used to render the program non-free.

The precise terms and conditions for copying, distribution and modification follow.

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If you convey a covered work, knowingly relying on a patent license, and the Corresponding Source of the work is not available for anyone to copy, free of charge and under the terms of this License, through a publicly available network server or other readily accessible means, then you must either (1) cause the Corresponding Source to be so available, or (2) disclaim the patent license for this particular work, or (3) arrange, in a manner consistent with the requirements of this License, to extend the patent license to downstream recipients. "Knowingly relying" means you have actual knowledge that, but for the patent license, your conveying the covered work in a country, or your recipient's use of the covered work in a country, would infringe one or more identifiable patents in that country that you have reason to believe are valid.

If, pursuant to or in connection with a single transaction or arrangement, you convey, or propagate by procuring conveyance of, a covered work, and grant a patent license to some of the parties receiving the covered work authorizing them to use, propagate, modify or convey a specific copy of the covered work, then the patent license you grant is automatically extended to all recipients of the covered work and works based on it.

A patent license is "discriminatory" if it does not include within the scope of its coverage, prohibits the exercise of, or is conditioned on the non-exercise of one or more of the rights that are specifically granted under this License. You may not convey a covered work if you are a party to an arrangement with a third party that is in the business of distributing software, under which you make payment to the third party based on the extent of your activity of conveying the work, and under which the third party grants, to any of the parties who would receive the covered work from you, a discriminatory patent license (a) in connection with copies of the covered work conveyed by you (or copies made from those copies), or (b) primarily for and in connection with specific products or compilations that contain the covered work, unless you entered into that arrangement, or that patent license was granted, prior to 28 March 2007.

Nothing in this License shall be construed as excluding or limiting any implied license or other defenses to infringement that may otherwise be available to you under applicable patent law.

12.[7] No Surrender of Others' Freedom.

If conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot convey the Program, or other covered work, so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not convey it at all. For example, if you agree to terms that obligate you to collect a royalty for further conveying from those to whom you convey the Program, the only way you could satisfy both those terms and this License would be to refrain entirely from conveying the Program.

13. Use with the GNU Affero General Public License.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, you have permission to link any covered work with a work licensed under version 3 (or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation) of the GNU Affero General Public License, and to convey the resulting combination. The terms of this License will continue to apply to your covered work but will not apply to the work with which it is linked, which will remain governed by the GNU Affero General Public License.

14.[9] Revised Versions of this License.

The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the GNU General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns.

Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies that a certain numbered version of the GNU General Public License "or any later version" applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that numbered version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of the GNU General Public License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.

If the Program specifies that a proxy can decide whether future versions of the GNU General Public License shall apply, that proxy's public statement of acceptance of any version is permanent authorization for you to choose that version for the Program.

Later license versions may grant you additional or different permissions. However, no additional obligations are imposed on any author or copyright holder as a result of your choosing to follow a later version.

15.[11] Disclaimer of Warranty.

THERE IS NO WARRANTY FOR THE PROGRAM, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW. EXCEPT WHEN OTHERWISE STATED IN WRITING THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND/OR OTHER PARTIES PROVIDE THE PROGRAM "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE PROGRAM IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE PROGRAM PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR OR CORRECTION.

16.[12] Limitation of Liability.

IN NO EVENT UNLESS REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAW OR AGREED TO IN WRITING WILL ANY COPYRIGHT HOLDER, OR ANY OTHER PARTY WHO MODIFIES AND/OR CONVEYS THE PROGRAM AS PERMITTED ABOVE, BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR DAMAGES, INCLUDING ANY GENERAL, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE PROGRAM (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO LOSS OF DATA OR DATA BEING RENDERED INACCURATE OR LOSSES SUSTAINED BY YOU OR THIRD PARTIES OR A FAILURE OF THE PROGRAM TO OPERATE WITH ANY OTHER PROGRAMS), EVEN IF SUCH HOLDER OR OTHER PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

17. Interpretation of Sections 15 and 16.

If the disclaimer of warranty and limitation of liability provided above cannot be given local legal effect according to their terms, reviewing courts shall apply local law that most closely approximates an absolute waiver of all civil liability in connection with the Program, unless a warranty or assumption of liability accompanies a copy of the Program in return for a fee.

END OF TERMS AND CONDITIONS

How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs

If you develop a new program, and you want it to be of the greatest possible use to the public, the best way to achieve this is to make it free software which everyone can redistribute and change under these terms.

To do so, attach the following notices to the program. It is safest to attach them to the start of each source file to most effectively state the exclusion of warranty; and each file should have at least the "copyright" line and a pointer to where the full notice is found.

Copyright (C)

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses or write to the Free Software Foundation,Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA

Also add information on how to contact you by electronic and paper mail.

If the program does terminal interaction, make it output a short notice like this when it starts in an interactive mode:

Gnomovision version 69, Copyright (C) year name of author Gnomovision comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details type `show w'. This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions; type `show c' for details.

The hypothetical commands `show w' and `show c' should show the appropriate parts of the General Public License. Of course, the commands you use may be called something other than `show w' and `show c'; for a GUI interface, you would use an "About box" instead.

You should also get your employer (if you work as a programmer) or your school, if any, to sign a "copyright disclaimer" for the program, if necessary. Here is a sample; alter the names:

Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the program `Gnomovision' (which makes passes at compilers) written by James Hacker.

, 1 April 1989
Ty Coon, President of Vice

For more information on how to apply and follow the GNU GPL, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses.

The GNU General Public License does not permit incorporating your program into proprietary programs. If your program is a subroutine library, you may consider it more useful to permit linking proprietary applications with the library. If this is what you want to do, use the GNU Lesser General Public License instead of this License.


  


GPLv3 Last Call Draft Released; and RMS on Why Upgrade | 277 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections
Authored by: bbaston on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 05:25 PM EDT
please.

---
IMBW, IANAL2, IMHO, IAVO
imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: bbaston on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 05:27 PM EDT
Please include links. Thanks.

---
IMBW, IANAL2, IMHO, IAVO
imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold

[ Reply to This | # ]

Horse droppings on lack of a "serious problem"
Authored by: pem on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 05:44 PM EDT
I want to be the first to call horse droppings on this statement:
First of all, it is important to note that upgrading is a choice. GPL version 2 will remain a valid license, and no disaster will happen if some programs remain under GPLv2 while others advance to GPLv3. These two licenses are incompatible, but that isn't a serious problem.

Whether it is a "serious problem" or not depends on whether or not you're the poor slob who's trying to combine code from two best-of-breed programs which have been released under different licenses.

As I pointed out in this article, the GPL is a selfish gene, in that it wants to propagate itself at any expense.

That was OK when all of the other license genes were weak, and just rolled over and acquiesced to the GPL, but now we will have two of these selfish gene licenses in the wild, which cannot interbreed.

As I and others have pointed out, there was no way that GPL 2 and 3 could be made compatible, despite PJ's and others' admonitions to take a "wait and see" attitude.

I certainly hope all the pain proves to be worth it, but to pretend that there is no pain is exactly the sort of spin I have come to expect from Stallman.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent contract exclusion
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 05:52 PM EDT
Looks like they decided to include the Novell/MS contract exclusion language.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"or later": please explain
Authored by: leopardi on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 06:14 PM EDT

Can someone please point me to an explanation of how "or later" works in practice, especially if the later license contains more obligations than the earlier one?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wow! this comes close to complete surrender.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 06:25 PM EDT
No matter how Richard makes it sound.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Kernel License question
Authored by: stomfi on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 06:50 PM EDT
It is my understanding the some of the kernel code is GP2 or later. If the
copyright holder wants or later, what happens to the GPL2 only code when I
compile it all into a usable OS

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is The Problem With Rights, Or Business Models?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 06:55 PM EDT
Hey, everybody!

And here we go again....

I'm wondering where the debate really lies here. Is it over concerns of what
can be done with the code, or that the GPLv3 will change how a software business
can work?

The reason I ask is, I don't see people questioning interaction between GPL3
and, say, the LGPL or Sun's shared source license or Samba or anything like
that, only GPL2 and 3.

In theory, if I want the shortcut the established GPL code provides but not the
license requirements, I can study the code and create my own that does the same
thing and I'm free to do with that what I want. The only thing I wouldn't be
able to do is patent (keep in mind, I oppose software patents, I'm just speaking
figuratively) it since prior art exists, so I would only control my particular
end result.

Is there really a problem between GPL2 and 3 that has people yelling, or is it
just looking for something to object to, and this is the best target available?

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent clause issue
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 06:57 PM EDT
Question: Is there any reason why the patent clause only covers agreements made
with "a third party that is in the business of distributing software"?


What if the third party isn't in the business of distributing software? For
example, what if Novell signed a deal with a company that was purely a patent
shop? It doesn't look like the patent clause covers that, and that's a pretty
big loophole.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hearing is over
Authored by: aha on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 07:38 PM EDT
I have just come from the hearing and will provide some notes when I get them
put into the computer.

The brief summary is that the hearings were along the lines of the briefings
that were submitted and at the end there was the normal "I will take this
under advisement and we are in recess, I will see you all Monday."


---
You get what you focus on.

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL Problems
Authored by: TechnoCat on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 08:19 PM EDT
I generally license my non-commercial software under MIT (you can do whatever you'd like with it) for two reasons.
  • It's generally compatible with other licenses
  • Others can use examples without fear
  • ...including in commercial products.
  • It doesn't require that every copy of my code be "free"; in other words, I can release part of it under MIT and yet still have a more fully-featured commercial product.
The last two are pretty important. There are a lot of development projects that could never be open source or GPL, due to the regulatory hurdles and extreme test/liability/clinical costs incurred. And the motivation to polish a large project can be discouraged by the slime who ignore license agreements and simply recompile with their own branding. Yeah, it's illegal, but there's no payoff in suing them either - a several year speculative and expensive gamble.

What this does result in is, in addition to full applications, some fantastic libraries to which a lot of developers add support for. Maybe one enhances it by adding streams, another perhaps by porting to a mobile platform, a third by adding HTTP POST compatibility via encoding... and yet all may have been working on commercial projects at the time - and that is why they had the time to polish it. Those, incidentally, are real life examples, with results that benefitted the entire free (and open source) community, but would not be possible with the GPLv3.

The bottom line is, different licenses for different purposes. But I've written or contributed to many free and open-source projects over the years and quite frankly the current GPL won't get much use from me.

(No offense intended, but if you aren't an active developer in the free software arena, I probably won't respect your opinion that those of us who give to it on our terms rather than the GPLv3 terms are selfish. You have to earn the right to pontificate.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPLv3 Last Call Draft Released; and RMS on Why Upgrade
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 08:20 PM EDT
current linux codebase is gpl v2
suppose all future patches are added with "gpl v2 or later" licence.
when all the gplv2 code is replaced (if it ever happens), further patches can be
v3 or later

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is the GPLv3 bloatware?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 08:53 PM EDT
Putting GPLv2 and v3 side-by-side, it's amazing how much longer and more convoluted GPLv3 is. It's not just the addition of a few extra clauses: everything has been taken from precise but legible English into legalese. Wouldn't it all have been easier if the v2 were just amended instead of rewritten from scratch?

See also this essay.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I'm amazed
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 01 2007 @ 01:52 PM EDT
.. how many still seem to get the "or later" preamble completely
wrong and still think, code under "gplv2 or later" could be easily
relicensed by someone other than the copyright owner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

LGPL v3?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 01 2007 @ 02:46 PM EDT
Is there going to be a new version of LGPL, too? The latest release was v2.1 in
1999.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Most GPL'ed licenses include the "or later"
Authored by: dwheeler on Friday, June 01 2007 @ 03:15 PM EDT
Most GPL'ed programs include the "or later" clause, as recommended by
the text of the GPL version 2 license. Linux and MySQL are major exceptions
that prove the rule, and even in Linux, much of the individual files include the
"or later" clause. So in a VAST number of circumstances this is not
an issue.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A new license?
Authored by: pem on Friday, June 01 2007 @ 08:25 PM EDT
In the robust discussion on this article (particularly when considering
comments by dwheeler), I came to the realization that what I and at
least a few other people seem to be missing is a license which requires
reciprocity on the part of programmers who receive code covered by the
license (which the original GPL fulfilled), but which can cover code
which can be used in larger works which are covered under other
licenses. Code written under this new theoretical license could be
linked into GPL v2 or v3 (or presumably later versions which maintain
the same vision), but would not have to be marked "or any later
version" and would have a clearly delineated set of terms and conditions.

GPL v 2 itself sufficed as this license until v3 came along. But it
seems it might be useful to craft a license which requires reciprocity
of sharing source code (and the ability to execute without patent
encumbrances) and allows code licensed under this license to be
incorporated into a larger work under a more ambitious (e.g. GPL 2
or 3) license.

Here is an example of a starting point of what such a license might look like.

Disclaimers:

- I am not a lawyer
- I am not a licensing expert
- I don't know if copyright law will allow the GPL to be
reused in this fashion, but I don't know why not
- This was written in a hurry and certainly contains mistakes
and inconsistencies
- The GPL 3 might be a better starting point for this,
but as it is not yet released, it is easier to show
the concepts with v2, which is not a moving target.
- I don't know how big "the market" for such a license is.
Obviously there are a few besides me who are disaffected
by a few clauses of GPL v3, but who would like to release
code under a license with GPL v2 style restrictions, yet
still allow that code to be used in GPL v3 programs. This
is the market for this license.



============================================
Basic Reciprocal License, version 0.5 draft
============================================

Definitions used in this license
================================

FSF
---

The FSF is the Free Sotware Foundation, Inc.
51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA

GPL
---

The GPL is the FSF GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE. If the license version
is required by the context GPL is used in, and is not explicitly given,
the version which is expressly implied is Version 2, dated June 1991.

BSD
---

Modified Berkeley Standard Distribution License, with advertising clause
removed

Compatible Controlling License
-------------------------------

A controlling license is a license which is the overall license applied
to a larger work which incorporates the work protected by this license,
as a whole. Compatible controlling licenses are discussed in clause 13.


Preamble
========

This License is designed for authors who want to insure that the
source code to modifications of their work remains generally
available and usable.

The goal of the basic reciprocal license is to fill the gap between
licenses like the BSD license (which the FSF deems "permissive")
and licenses which mandate they control an entire work, such as
the various versions of the GPL.

The purpose of any software license is to define a bargain between
the author and others. If others fulfill certain of the
author's wishes, then they can do more with the software than they
otherwise could, such as use the software at all or distribute new
copies of the software.

But different authors have different goals for their software. Some
authors even have different goals for different pieces of software
that they write.

One goal that drives many authors who release the source to their
creations, is that if any others release larger works based on the
source, the authors would like for those larger works to become
generally available under the same general conditions as the original
source.

This is the niche this License fills. Other licenses miss filling
this niche for one reason or another:

- The permissive licenses do not require this reciprocity.

- The LGPL requires the reciprocity only for enhancements and
changes to the source itself, not larger works incorporating
it.

- The GPL requires that the larger work also be licensed under
the GPL. That was fine when it was the primary reciprocal
license, but now GPL v3 is also a reciprocal license.

- GPL v3 requires that the larger work also be licensed under
GPL v3. This makes it incompatible with some GPL v2 source.
Although GPL v3 contains stronger patent reciprocity provisions,
GPL v3 also contains additional restrictions beyond reciprocity
that some authors might not want to apply to their code.

Software licensed under this License requires this reciprocity, and may
be linked into a larger work which is released under the GPL 2 or
GPL 3 license, or any other license in the future which guarantees
this same reciprocity.

For more information on why you would want to choose a free software
license, or a particular sort of free software license, please
see the text of the GPL, and the FSF web page containing commentary
on the various free licenses. At the time of publication of this
license, this web page is at:

http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/

Because the GPL (version 2) is an excellent starting point
for this design goal, this license incorporates much of the
GPL by reference.

However, the GPL is a copyrighted document, so although
we can reuse the ideas of that document, we cannot legally
reuse the text verbatim. This is actually a very good thing,
or else there would be many proliferations of the GPL and
it would be hard to distinguish them.

When reusing text of the GPL, the phrase "this License" will
mean this version of the Basic Reciprocal License, not the GPL.


Basic Reciprocal License Terms and Conditions
=============================================

0. This License incorporates the terms of clause 0 of the
GPL verbatim, except that the term "General Public License"
must be replaced with "Basic Reciprocal License."

1. This license incorporates the terms of clause 1 of the GPL
verbatim.

2. This license incorporates the terms of clause 2 of the GPL
verbatim, except that:

i)in section 2b, and in the phrase
"the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of
this License", the term "this License" must be replaced with
"a compatible controlling license".

ii) Section 2d should be added after section 2c, and reads:

d) Although the overall work based on the Program may be licensed
under any compatible controlling license, modifications to individual
source files which are subject to this license must be licensed
under terms at least as favorable to the immediate recipient as the
terms of this license. For example, it is permissible to apply
a patch which has a BSD license attached, but not a patch which has
a GPL license attached (but see section 13a).

3-5. This license incorporates the terms of clauses 3-5 of the GPL
verbatim.

6. This license incorporates the terms of clause 6 of the GPL
verbatim, except that the phrase "these terms and conditions"
must be replaced with "the terms and conditions of the compatible
controlling license".

7. This license incorporates the terms of clause 7 of the GPL
verbatim, except that the following text is added:

The patent obligations imposed on you by this section also
require you to treat parties who received copies which are
functionally similar to ones you distribute as if they had
received those copies from you, solely for the purposes of
determining if your distribution is allowed under this section.

8. This license incorporates the terms of clause 8 of the GPL
verbatim.

9. This license does not incorporate the terms of clause 9 of
the GPL. It is the intent that this license be compatible with
later versions of itself, so no similar clause is needed.

10-12. This license incorporates the terms of clauses 10-12 of the GPL
verbatim.

13. To be compatible with a Program licensed under this License, a controlling
license must:

a) Not conflict with any of the terms and conditions of this license,
except that versions 2 and 3 of the GPL are deemed to be compatible
to the extent they apply to the work as a whole, and any conflicts
will be construed so as to make a work covered by this license
eligible for inclusion in a larger work under a controlling
GPL version 2 or 3 license. Also, to the extent that later versions
of the GPL are at least as favorable to potential recipients as
versions 2 or 3, they are deemed to be compatible with this license.

b) Require the user to distribute full source code to the larger
work under terms at least as favorable to all potential downstream
recipients as the terms in this license.

c) Require the user to grant patent protection on use of the larger
work under terms at least as favorable to all potential downstream
recipients as the terms in this license.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why so much venom against GPL v3
Authored by: tizan on Saturday, June 02 2007 @ 03:00 AM EDT
I am seeing plenty of very "strong" comments against GPL v3 and i don't really understand the "viral" problem or comments.... As i see it...

a) you don't like it ...don't use it and don't use code of people who distributed it under v3

b) if you use/modify/distribute code that is distributed with "v2 or later" in the license ...you have been given permission to distribute the modifications under v2 or v3 or v4 etc at your choice

c) you write your own original code...you are free to distribute it under any license you want ...nobody is forcing you to use GPL at all...but if you used code from other people ...respect the license they gave you to use it/distribute it or you are violating the law (in most countries).

Isn't that simple ? you don't like Stallman or FSF that's a different issue altogether. if you believe they are nut cases...fair enough ...there are others that may think differently and lets go on with the work

Ultimately if GPL v3 is such a bad license then nobody (or near to nobody) will use it ...after all it is "thinking" people that are picking license to release their work.

---
tizan: What's the point of knowledge if you don't pass it on. Its like storing all your data on a 1-bit write only memory !

[ Reply to This | # ]

On Novell distributing GPL3 code
Authored by: stites on Saturday, June 02 2007 @ 01:38 PM EDT

The following quote from Richard Stallman appears in the new picks:

"I decided to include the date cut-off that makes paragraph 7 (of section 11) forbid only deals made after last March - which means it will not forbid Novell from distributing GPLv3-covered software under the effects of its deal with Microsoft," he said."

"When Novell does that, paragraph 6, which has no date cut-off, will apply. We expect this to make the deal backfire against Microsoft, by extending the deal's limited patent protection for Novell customers to the whole user community. That is a better outcome than forbidding Novell from distributing the software, and that is why I made this decision."

Over the last week or two I have followed the discussion where Eben Moglen and others have described the logic whereby if Novell distributes GPL3 code and Microsoft distributes their vouchers then Microsoft's patent protection covenents will apply to all open source users. I think that this logic is pretty shaky but it does no harm to include it as an additional point of attack against the Microsoft-Novell agreement. Also it is the first suggestion that I have seen which attacks the voucher distribution portion of the agreement and we need to attack that as well as the other provisos in the agreement. So I went along with this line of thinking without objection.

Now Richard Stallman is saying that we are going to drop our objection to Novell distributing GPL3 code and place all of our defence in trying to force the Microsoft patent covenent to apply to all open source users. I think that blocking Novell from distributing GPL3 code is a much stronger defence . I strongly object to dropping that defence. Up until I read the news pick I thought that we were using both defences. We would prohibit Novell from distributing GPL3 code under the terms of the Microsoft-Novell agreement. If Novell defied the ban and distributed GPL3 code anyway we would then both take action against Novell and declare that Microsoft's patent protection now applied to all open source users.

I strongly to GPL3 dropping the ban on Novell distributing GPL3 code.

--------------------
Steve Stites

[ Reply to This | # ]

BRAVO
Authored by: psherma1 on Sunday, June 03 2007 @ 01:17 AM EDT
Certainly a more complicated license, but obviously due to the greater
complexity of "IP" shenanigans out and about nowadays.

I believe the final tweaks were to make sure the license was able to protect
authors with as little collateral damage as possible. Let's face it, Linux and
Open Source projects have to remain as business-friendly as possible. Without
friends like IBM, where would Linux and OSS be today?
Not only do businesses have to be confident in the integrity of the included
IP, but the license should not appear to bite the hands that have helped it
along. We should WANT companies to be able to profit from their investments in
Open Source software. Make sure they know the rules and play by them -- but
don't walk them down the plank because they appear to have spit on the deck.
Make them clean it up and move on.

The draft makes good business sense and offers better protection for authors.
And as a bonus seems to hit M$ with a solid right-uppercut for screwing around
with GPL2. With this draft I am finally able to confidently license any of my
updated and future code to GPL3, and that includes all programs and scripts in
Absolute Linux and other applications I have written.

So to the FSF and RMS I say --
"Job well done and thank you."

Sincerely,
Paul Sherman

[ Reply to This | # ]

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