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To read comments to this article, go here
Hints About GPL3
Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 11:22 PM EST

There is a nugget of information about the next version of the GPL from Richard Stallman himself in an interview by Open For Business on the state of GNU/Linux:

OFB: There has been lots of talk about the upcoming General Public License (3.0) and how it will differ from the present version. What do you see as the key reasons people should adopt the new version?

RMS: Most programs will adopt it automatically, since they are released under "GPL version 2 or later"; however, the specific advantages that I think will appeal to many developers include: explicit compatibility with certain licenses that are not compatible with GPL v2, better handling of patents, addressing the issue of ASPs, and improving the requirements for credits.

Now that's intriguing to me, particularly the compatibility and the patent parts. Clearly, from all we've heard, there will be an effort to make the GPL work well for business, and that's the obvious path to take:

The license is being modernized to deal with new realities in the computing industry, such as widespread patenting of software, computers that will run only software that has been cryptographically signed and software services available over the Internet.

Scrutiny of the license is increasing as the free and open-source software projects it governs become promoted by mainstream computing companies and more widely used by conventional customers.

Amazon is already a happy GNU/Linux user, having switched in 2001, after which they filed with the SEC the news that doing so had saved them $17 million. Talk about Get the Facts.

Today Amazon announced this:

Amazon.com is deploying Linux-based business-intelligence tools to improve the efficiency of its financial budgeting, forecasting and reporting.

The online retail giant will use a range of analytics software from business-intelligence vendor Cognos as part of a multiyear agreement. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Amazon will use Cognos' Linux-based reporting and analytics software as well as planning tools for its finance and operational organizations. The move reaffirms Amazon's commitment to open source after switching to a Linux-based infrastructure from Windows several years ago.

As for worries about the GPL's new version, not even expected until 2006, at the earliest, Eben Moglen says this:

GPL 3 is likely to include changes that take into account international copyright law and patent threats, according to Moglen.

It is not surprising that the next version of the GPL has attracted a lot of interest as it is the basis for a "multibillion-dollar industry," according to Moglen. "In a market that size, there are a lot of participants and a lot of people with interests," Moglen said. . . .

"When it's all over, people will say about the GPL 3, 'It's better, it's not that different--what's all the fuss about?'" Moglen said. "People have to trust that we know what we're doing."

What I am eagerly waiting to see is how they manage to be business-friendly and retain the freedoms the GPL is renowned for protecting. I do trust that they know what they are doing, and I can't wait to see the draft, when it is ready for the community to tweak. We have some experience at that already here at Groklaw, and how enjoyable it will be to put all our efforts to such an important and historic project.


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