Draft 1 of GLP v3 is posted for discussion on the Free Software Foundation's website. If you want to compare, you can find GPLv2 on our permanent GPL page. And here's the page where they explain the draft changes.
But this is an historic moment that I want to capture here as well, so our chronicle is complete. Feel free to discuss, but send anything you wish to have considered to the FSF. Andy Oram is there at the conference, and here's his initial report. Also Simon Phipps of Sun and Intel's Danese Cooper collaborated and took notes during the conference, and they add some Q & A. Their handiwork is here, with a photo of rms speaking for you history buffs.
The rationale document says this, in part, about why there is a need for a revision of the GPL, and particularly addresses patents and DRM:
1.2 Technological Changes and Legal Threats to Freedom
Computer technology has changed since 1991, but these changes are not primarily what has motivated us to revise the GPL. The concern of the GPL is not the particulars of technology but the maintenance of usersí freedoms. To be sure, technological developments of the past fifteen years have enabled new freedoms and have resulted in new threats to freedom. No fundamental change in computer technology has occurred that requires a radical change to our license, however.
It is changes in law, not computer technology, that pose the principal challenges to the free software community. Chief among these changes has been the unwise and ill-considered application of patent law to software. Software patents threaten every free software project, just as they threaten proprietary software and custom software. Any program can be destroyed or crippled by a software patent belonging to someone who has no other connection to the program.
We were among the few to recognize the gravity of the software patent problem in 1991. At that time, however, the problem seemed to be confined to one country, the United States. Today the situation is very different. Most countries have followed the direction of the United States, permitting software to be patented to at least some degree. This worldwide shift in patent law has brought about immense harm and injustice. In 1991 GPLv2 was unique in raising a defense against the problem of software patents, in its section 7. It is indicative of the scale of this problem that, by the end of the decade, commentators were criticizing the GPL for doing too little to combat patents.
A programís own license cannot protect it from the threat of software patents. The only real solution to the problem of software patents is to abolish them. However, we can protect against attempts by some participants in a programís development to use patents against other participants. GPLv3 provides an explicit patent license covering any patents held by the programís developers, replacing the implicit license on which GPLv2 relies. GPLv3 also implements a narrow scheme of patent retaliation against those who undertake this precise form of aggression.
Our draft of GPLv3 makes clear that we do not entirely share the current enthusiasm of others in the free software community for including broad forms of patent retaliation in licenses. Theorists of patent retaliation have, in our view, overestimated the deterrent value of denying access to free software. In this area, we have chosen instead to follow our general guidelines of limiting freedom only where demonstrably necessary to protect freedom, and of doing no more in granting permissions than permissions can be expected to accomplish.
Technology that restricts usersí traditional rights in copyrighted works, often known as Digital Restrictions Management or Digital Rights Management (DRM), is another threat to free software. As a campaign to limit usersí rights, the adoption of DRM is fundamentally at odds with the spirit of the free software movement. Unfree software implementing DRM technology is simply a prison in which users can be put to deprive them of the rights that the law would otherwise allow them. Our aim is, and must be, the abolition of DRM as a social practice. Anything less than complete victory leaves the freedom of software in grave peril.
Free software is software that respects the userís essential freedoms; the adoption of free software is a step forward because it means the spread of freedom. Even as companies imposing DRM prohibit access to digitally restricted data by free users, they often seek to transform free software into tools of user restriction. We must not tolerate this assault on usersí freedom merely because the software used for this assault is a version of our own.
Someday, we hope, copyright lawís traditional respect for individual user rights will be restored, and user-disabling DRM will no longer be permitted. In the meantime, we have designed GPLv3 to forbid such perversion of free software.
Another challenge facing the free software community is the proliferation of incompatible free software licenses. Of course, we cannot make the GPL compatible with all such licenses. GPLv3 contains provisions that are designed to reduce license incompatibility by making it easier for developers to combine code carrying non-GPL terms with GPLíd code.
We hope to encourage more free software developers to use the GPL when licensing their software, and, more generally, we are determined to convince more developers of the merits of copyleft. The proponents of fully permissive, non-copyleft licenses have, in effect, argued in favor of sacrificing the preservation and extension of user freedom in order to facilitate the short-term commercialization of software. Our position has always been that software built in freedom might easily be rendered non-free if governed by such arrangements. Developments in the years since 1991 have only strengthened this view.
Although the concerns of business have never been our main priority, we do make one observation on this subject. For us, there has never been any inconsistency between protecting usersí freedom and enabling the commercial use of software. Whatever doubts may have existed in 1991, we have shown since then that a copyleft license, a license designed for durable protection of user freedom, can form the basis of a larger set of commercially useful software than any non-copyleft free software license has ever produced. Although business concerns are secondary to freedom, it is important that the GNU GPL enable business to succeed while respecting freedom, and we do not intend to interfere with the synergy between them.
I've had conversations with some who were sure the GPL is anti-business. As you can see, that isn't the case.
GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE
Discussion Draft 1 of Version 3, 16 Jan 2006
THIS IS A DRAFT, NOT A PUBLISHED VERSION OF THE GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE.
Copyright (C) 2006 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 licenses for most software are designed to take away your
freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the GNU General Public
License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free
software--to make sure the software is free 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 program whose
authors commit to using it. (Some Free Software Foundation software
is covered by the GNU Lesser General Public License instead.) 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
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To protect your rights, we need to make requirements that forbid
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These restrictions translate to certain responsibilities for you if you
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For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether
gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that
you have. 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
Developers that use the GNU GPL protect your rights with two steps: (1)
assert copyright on the software, and (2) offer you this License which
gives you legal permission to copy, distribute and/or modify the software.
For the developers' and author's protection, the GPL clearly explains
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are told that what they have is not the original, so that any problems
introduced by others will not reflect on the original authors'
Some countries have adopted laws prohibiting software that enables users
to escape from Digital Restrictions Management. DRM is fundamentally
incompatible with the purpose of the GPL, which is to protect users'
freedom; therefore, the GPL ensures that the software it covers will
neither be subject to, nor subject other works to, digital restrictions
from which escape is forbidden.
Finally, every program is threatened constantly by software patents. We
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be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.
The precise terms and conditions for copying, distribution and
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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
convey 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) [year] [name of author]
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, 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.
[signature of Rich R. Thanus], 1 April 1989
Rich R. Thanus, Peripheral Visionary
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.