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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, 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 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.


Last Call Draft of Version 3, 31 May 2007


Copyright (C) 2007 Free Software Foundation, Inc. ( 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.


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.

For the developers' and authors' protection, the GPL clearly explains that there is no warranty for this free software. For both users' and authors' sake, the GPL requires that modified versions be marked as changed, so that their problems will not be attributed erroneously to authors of previous versions.

Some devices are designed to deny users access to install or run modified versions of the software inside them, although the manufacturer can do so. This is fundamentally incompatible with the aim of protecting users' freedom to change the software. The systematic pattern of such abuse occurs in the area of products for individuals to use, which is precisely where it is most unacceptable. Therefore, we have designed this version of the GPL to prohibit the practice for those products. If such problems arise substantially in other domains, we stand ready to extend this provision to those domains in future versions of the GPL, as needed to protect the freedom of users.

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.


0. Definitions.

"This License" refers to version 3 of the GNU General Public License.

"Copyright" also means copyright-like laws that apply to other kinds of works, such as semiconductor masks.

"The Program" refers to any copyrightable work licensed under this License. Each licensee is addressed as "you." "Licensees" and "recipients" may be individuals or organizations.

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1. Source Code.

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The "System Libraries" of an executable work include anything, other than the work as a whole, that (a) is included in the normal form of packaging a Major Component, but which is not part of that Major Component, and (b) serves only to enable use of the work with that Major Component, or to implement a Standard Interface for which an implementation is available to the public in source code form. A "Major Component", in this context, means a major essential component (kernel, window system, and so on) of the specific operating system (if any) on which the executable work runs, or a compiler used to produce the work, or an object code interpreter used to run it.

The "Corresponding Source" for a work in object code form means all the source code needed to generate, install, and (for an executable work) run the object code and to modify the work, including scripts to control those activities. However, it does not include the work's System Libraries, or general-purpose tools or generally available free programs which are used unmodified in performing those activities but which are not part of the work. For example, Corresponding Source includes interface definition files associated with source files for the work, and the source code for shared libraries and dynamically linked subprograms that the work is specifically designed to require, such as by intimate data communication or control flow between those subprograms and other parts of the work.

The Corresponding Source need not include anything that users can regenerate automatically from other parts of the Corresponding Source.

The Corresponding Source for a work in source code form is that same work.

2. Basic Permissions.

All rights granted under this License are granted for the term of copyright on the Program, and are irrevocable provided the stated conditions are met. This License explicitly affirms your unlimited permission to run the unmodified Program. The output from running a covered work is covered by this License only if the output, given its content, constitutes a covered work. This License acknowledges your rights of fair use or other equivalent, as provided by copyright law.

You may make, run and propagate covered works that you do not convey, without conditions so long as your license otherwise remains in force. You may convey covered works to others for the sole purpose of having them make modifications exclusively for you, or provide you with facilities for running those works, provided that you comply with the terms of this License in conveying all material for which you do not hold copyright. Those thus making or running the covered works for you must do so exclusively on your behalf, under your direction and control, on terms that prohibit them from making any copies of your copyrighted material outside their relationship with you.

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No covered work shall be deemed part of an effective technological measure under any applicable law fulfilling obligations under article 11 of the WIPO copyright treaty adopted on 20 December 1996, or similar laws prohibiting or restricting circumvention of such measures.

When you convey a covered work, you waive any legal power to forbid circumvention of technical measures to the extent such circumvention is effected by exercising rights under this License with respect to the covered work, and you disclaim any intention to limit operation or modification of the work as a means of enforcing, against the work's users, your or third parties' legal rights to forbid circumvention of technical measures.

4.[1] Conveying Verbatim Copies.

You may convey verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice; keep intact all notices stating that this License and any non-permissive terms added in accord with section 7 apply to the code; keep intact all notices of the absence of any warranty; and give all recipients a copy of this License along with the Program.

You may charge any price or no price for each copy that you convey, and you may offer support or warranty protection for a fee.

5.[2] Conveying Modified Source Versions.

You may convey a work based on the Program, or the modifications to produce it from the Program, in the form of source code under the terms of section 4 above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:

a) The work must carry prominent notices stating that you modified it, and giving a relevant date.

b) The work must carry prominent notices stating that it is released under this License and any conditions added under section 7. This requirement modifies the requirement in section 4 to "keep intact all notices".

c) You must license the entire work, as a whole, under this License to anyone who comes into possession of a copy. This License will therefore apply, along with any applicable section 7 additional terms, to the whole of the work, and all its parts, regardless of how they are packaged. This License gives no permission to license the work in any other way, but it does not invalidate such permission if you have separately received it.

d) If the work has interactive user interfaces, each must display Appropriate Legal Notices; however, if the Program has interactive interfaces that do not display Appropriate Legal Notices, your work need not make them do so.

A compilation of a covered work with other separate and independent works, which are not by their nature extensions of the covered work, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an "aggregate" if the compilation and its resulting copyright are not used to limit the access or legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. Inclusion of a covered work in an aggregate does not cause this License to apply to the other parts of the aggregate.

6.[3] Conveying Non-Source Forms.

You may convey a covered work in object code form under the terms of sections 4 and 5, provided that you also convey the machine-readable Corresponding Source under the terms of this License, in one of these ways:

a) Convey the object code in, or embodied in, a physical product (including a physical distribution medium), accompanied by the Corresponding Source fixed on a durable physical medium customarily used for software interchange.

b) Convey the object code in, or embodied in, a physical product (including a physical distribution medium), accompanied by a written offer, valid for at least three years and valid for as long as you offer spare parts or customer support for that product model, either (1) to give anyone who possesses the object code a copy of the Corresponding Source for all the software in the product that is covered by this License, on a durable physical medium customarily used for software interchange, for a price no more than your reasonable cost of physically performing this conveying of source, or (2) to provide access to copy the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge.

c) Convey individual copies of the object code with a copy of the written offer to provide the Corresponding Source. This alternative is allowed only occasionally and noncommercially, and only if you received the object code with such an offer, in accord with subsection 6b.

d) Convey the object code by offering access from a designated place (gratis or for a charge), and offer equivalent access to the Corresponding Source in the same way through the same place at no further charge. You need not require recipients to copy the Corresponding Source along with the object code. If the place to copy the object code is a network server, the Corresponding Source may be on a different server (operated by you or a third party) that supports equivalent copying facilities, provided you maintain clear directions next to the object code saying where to find the Corresponding Source. Regardless of what server hosts the Corresponding Source, you remain obligated to ensure that it is available for as long as needed to satisfy these requirements.

e) Convey the object code using peer-to-peer transmission, provided you inform other peers where the object code and Corresponding Source of the work are being offered to the general public at no charge under subsection 6d.

A separable portion of the object code, whose source code is excluded from the Corresponding Source as a System Library, need not be included in conveying the object code work.

A "User Product" is either (1) a "consumer product," which means any tangible personal property which is normally used for personal, family, or household purposes, or (2) anything designed or sold for incorporation into a dwelling. In determining whether a product is a consumer product, doubtful cases shall be resolved in favor of coverage. For a particular product received by a particular user, "normally used" refers to a typical or common use of that class of product, regardless of the status of the particular user or of the way in which the particular user actually uses, or expects or is expected to use, the product. A product is a consumer product regardless of whether the product has substantial commercial, industrial or non-consumer uses, unless such uses represent the only significant mode of use of the product.

"Installation Information" for a User Product means any methods, procedures, authorization keys, or other information required to install and execute modified versions of a covered work in that User Product from a modified version of its Corresponding Source. The information must suffice to ensure that the continued functioning of the modified object code is in no case prevented or interfered with solely because modification has been made.

If you convey an object code work under this section in, or with, or specifically for use in, a User Product, and the conveying occurs as part of a transaction in which the right of possession and use of the User Product is transferred to the recipient in perpetuity or for a fixed term (regardless of how the transaction is characterized), the Corresponding Source conveyed under this section must be accompanied by the Installation Information. But this requirement does not apply if neither you nor any third party retains the ability to install modified object code on the User Product (for example, the work has been installed in ROM).

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Corresponding Source conveyed, and Installation Information provided, in accord with this section must be in a format that is publicly documented (and with an implementation available to the public in source code form), and must require no special password or key for unpacking, reading or copying.

7. Additional Terms.

"Additional permissions" are terms that supplement the terms of this License by making exceptions from one or more of its conditions. Additional permissions that are applicable to the entire Program shall be treated as though they were included in this License, to the extent that they are valid under applicable law. If additional permissions apply only to part of the Program, that part may be used separately under those permissions, but the entire Program remains governed by this License without regard to the additional permissions.

When you convey a copy of a covered work, you may at your option remove any additional permissions from that copy, or from any part of it. (Additional permissions may be written to require their own removal in certain cases when you modify the work.) You may place additional permissions on material, added by you to a covered work, for which you have or can give appropriate copyright permission.

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a. disclaiming warranty or limiting liability differently from the terms of sections 15 and 16 of this License; or

b. requiring preservation of specified reasonable legal notices or author attributions in that material or in the Appropriate Legal Notices displayed by works containing it; or

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All other non-permissive additional terms are considered "further restrictions" within the meaning of section 10. If the Program as you received it, or any part of it, purports to be governed by this License, supplemented by a term that is a further restriction, you may remove that term. If a license document contains a further restriction but permits relicensing or conveying under this License, you may add to a covered work material governed by the terms of that license document, provided that the further restriction does not survive such relicensing or conveying.

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Additional terms, permissive or non-permissive, may be stated in the form of a separately written license, or stated as exceptions; the above requirements apply either way.

8.[4] Termination.

You may not propagate or modify a covered work except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to propagate or modify it is void. If you violate this License, any copyright holder of the work may put you on notice by notifying you of the violation, by any reasonable means, provided 60 days have not elapsed since the most recent violation. Having put you on notice, the copyright holder may, at any time, terminate the rights (including any patent rights) that the copyright holder has granted to you under this License.

However, if this is the first time you have received notice of violation of this License (for any software) with respect to a given copyright holder, and you cure the violation within 30 days following your receipt of the notice, then your license is automatically reinstated.

In the event that your rights are terminated under this section, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as they remain in full compliance. Unless and until your rights are restored by the copyright holders, you do not qualify to receive licenses for the same material under section 10.

9.[5] Acceptance Not Required for Having Copies.

You are not required to accept this License in order to receive or run a copy of the Program. Ancillary propagation of a covered work occurring solely as a consequence of using peer-to-peer transmission to receive a copy likewise does not require acceptance. However, nothing other than this License grants you permission to propagate or modify any covered work. These actions infringe copyright if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or propagating a covered work, you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so.

10.[6] Automatic Licensing of Downstream Recipients.

Each time you convey a covered work, the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensors, to run, modify and propagate that work, subject to this License. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties with this License.

An "entity transaction" is a transaction transferring control of an organization, or substantially all assets of one, or subdividing an organization, or merging organizations. If propagation of a covered work results from an entity transaction, each party to that transaction who receives a copy of the work also receives whatever licenses to the work the party's predecessor in interest had or could give under the previous paragraph, plus a right to possession of the Corresponding Source of the work from the predecessor in interest, if the predecessor has it or can get it with reasonable efforts.

You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights granted or affirmed under this License. For example, you may not impose a license fee, royalty, or other charge for exercise of rights granted under this License, and you may not initiate litigation (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that any patent claim is infringed by making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the Program or any portion of it.

11. Patents.

A "contributor" is a copyright holder who authorizes use under this License of the Program or a work on which the Program is based. The work thus licensed is called the contributor's "contributor version."

A contributor's "essential patent claims" are all patent claims owned or controlled by the contributor, whether already acquired or hereafter acquired, that would be infringed by some manner, permitted by this License, of making, using, or selling its contributor version, but do not include claims that would be infringed only as a consequence of further modification of the contributor version. For purposes of this definition, "control" includes the right to grant patent sublicenses in a manner consistent with the requirements of this License.

Each contributor grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free patent license under the contributor's essential patent claims, to make, use, sell, offer for sale, import and otherwise run, modify and propagate the contents of its contributor version.

For purposes of the following three paragraphs, a "patent license" is any express agreement or commitment, however denominated, not to enforce a patent, and to "grant" a patent license to a party means to make such an agreement or commitment not to enforce a patent against the party.

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.

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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.


16.[12] Limitation of Liability.


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.


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 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

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.
Authored by: bbaston on Thursday, May 31 2007 @ 05:25 PM EDT

imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold

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

imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold

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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.

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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.

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"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?

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.


- 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


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


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.


Modified Berkeley Standard Distribution License, with advertising clause

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.


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

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

- 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:

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

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

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

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

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 have been given permission to distribute the modifications under v2 or v3 or v4 etc at your choice

c) you write your own original 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 !

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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

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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."

Paul Sherman

[ Reply to This | # ]

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